Nightlight opened our international adoption program in Nigeria in 2016 when we began a partnership with Morgan Hill Children Foundation. Morgan Hill is currently the only organization licensed by the Ministry of Youth and Development to provide adoption services in Lagos, Nigeria. They are a non-profit organization that is dedicated to humanitarian and children advocacy work. There are many states in Nigeria and each state has its own adoption laws that must be adhered to. Lagos is the only state that will allow non-Nigerian citizens to adopt.
Nigeria is a very successful adoption program but it can be difficult due to fluctuating timelines, times of civil unrest, and other factors. In 2022, we saw 7 children come home with their forever families in this program. Though it is not an easy program, we still have many dedicated families who persist through the long travel times, wait times, and bring home their children. We currently have matched all waiting families in this program and we would love to have some more families working through the process.
Nigeria is not overly strict with their requirements for adopting parents. Here are some requirements in this program.
- Adoptive parents must be at least 25 years old in a couple adoption. Single women must be at least 35 years old.
- Our partner agency prefers that families follow birth order. There can be exceptions made if it is in the best interest of the child.
- Nigeria can be strict when it comes to mental health issues in the birth family. Please check with the program coordinator to see if you would qualify if you are taking medication or receiving treatment for a mental health condition.
Nigeria has both younger and older children available for adoption. If a family would like to adopt a child under the age of five, they must be open to a child with special needs. Many special needs in Nigeria are minor or manageable. These might include things like HIV, tuberculosis that has been treated, heart conditions, and more. There are also children with more significant needs who need families as well. If you are willing to adopt a child over the age of five, it is possible to adopt a child who does not have any identified special needs. It is important to note that all children adopted internationally would be expected to have some developmental delays from their time in an orphanage. It should also be noted that all children adopted internationally have experienced loss and will have trauma from this.
The process to adopt from Nigeria is expected to take 2 – 3 years from start to finish. This can be shortened if you begin the process with a waiting child or if you are adopting a child with more significant special needs. The first step would be to fill out the application with Nightlight. Once this is approved, you will complete an orientation call with our program coordinator. After the orientation is complete, you will submit your application letter to the Ministry of Youth and Social Development in Nigeria. Families are not able to make their first trip to Nigeria until one year after the ministry has received this letter. You will begin to work on your home study and once that is completed, you will file your I-600A. Then you will wait for a match from Morgan Hill.
Once a child becomes available, we will present this to your family for consideration. If you decide to move forward with this referral, you will write a letter of intent to the ministry to state you would like to adopt that specific child. Once they give you an approval and we have verified all of the referral documents are received, you will complete the referral review with one of our social services managers at Nightlight. Once that is completed, Morgan Hill will work on obtaining a court date for the custody hearing so you can begin to plan your travel. You will also use this time to obtain your Nigerian visas. This will require you to travel to the Nigerian consulate in the US in person.
Once you have your visa and your court date, it will be time to make your first trip to Nigeria. You can expect that your first trip will be about 12 weeks in total. Many unforeseen delays can happen in the process that could delay you in country. While there, you will complete a bonding period, finalize your adoption, obtain necessary legal documents, and apply for your child’s passport. After this is complete, you will make plans to come home and your child will reside at the orphanage while you return to the United States to file your I-600. When you file the I-600, the Nigerian Consulate in Lagos will be responsible for completing the I-604 investigation where they will verify that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan. Once this is approved, USCIS should approve your I-600 application. Once this approval is received, you are able to return to Nigeria to get your child and complete the visa process. This final trip is about 2-3 weeks in length.
IS THIS PROGRAM A GOOD FIT FOR ME?
The greatest hurdle for the Nigeria program is the length of travel time. If you feel like this is something that would be possible, it is likely this program could be a good fit for your family. We do have a few waiting children available in Nigeria that can be viewed on Nightlight’s Adoption Bridge website. If you are interested in learning more about the program and determining if this would be a good fit for your family, please contact Kate Resh by phone at (970)663-6799 or by email at Kate.Resh@nightlight.org.