Burundi Adoption

Buchanan15-17-XL - CopyWe’ve placed 10 children from Burundi! Contact us about the Burundi Adoption program.  520 531-9931 info@childfound.org

Burundi is a Hague Convention country and adoption is conducted through the Central Authority, in compliance with regulations on international adoption.  We will gladly provide information on all ICF adoption program outcomes, waiting families and children.

Our Burundi adoption program is informative, supportive and personal. ICF offers in-depth perspectives on international adoption and our staff has experience as adoptive parents, as well!  Contact us for up-to-date information.

Burundi Adoption Story!

When we took our first Burundi trip with International Child Foundation, we were really impressed with the ‘big picture’ aspect of the agency. This was more than helping families with adoption.  It was building a long-term relationship with Burundi and its officials, so the adoption process would be more smooth—more trustworthy—on both sides for years to come. ICF met with government officials, gave training for caretakers on the adoption process, and had an exceptional lawyer, Pierre, on the ground full-time. All these things gave us peace of mind, knowing we were aligned with an agency that really cared about Burundi and that ICF would go above and beyond to do this right.

There are always bumps in the road when it comes to adoption and ours was no exception. The delays were frustrating, but we knew our agency—including Pierre in Burundi—was continually making efforts to move things forward.  We received a match of two biological brothers a few months after our initial trip. 

B15-56-XL - We’re grateful to have experienced the culture of Burundi to share with our boys. Their room has pictures of hippos we’d seen, the landscape and famed Burundi drummers. The boys love these photos. We want them to stay connected with their culture—and we hope to share that with them.

The adoption journey is not for the faint-hearted. It is  emotional and the transition to becoming a family is full of challenges. But the paperwork and every discouraging moment was worth it. The boys are our sons—our family wouldn’t be our family without them. Our three-year-old snuggles into my lap and says, “Mama, I so happy.”  We’re so grateful these little guys are our sons.                

Sean and Kathy

 Children Referred for Adoption from Burundi

Families can be matched with children age 2 or older.  Children age 5 and older are in the greatest need, as they have often been in a shelter for several years.  Infant adoption is not possible, as Burundi requires a child be under shelter care for at least one year before the child can be referred for adoption.  Older adoptable children may be part of a sibling group, but most are single children. The age range for sibling groups may include children as young as 1 year and up to age 15.  Burundi also needs families for special needs children.

Family Eligibility to Adopt

An adopting parent should be at least thirty years of age.  A waiver of this requirement can be requested from the County Court. (There is no age requirement if adopting the child of a spouse). An adopting parent must be a minimum of fifteen years older than the child to be adopted although waivers may be granted.  If married, adopting parents must have been married five years.

Adopting parents must provide psychological and medical reports and a home study and have approval from USCIS to adopt from Burundi, as well as other documents required for their dossier, to prove they have the capacity to become parents.  Married couples or single women may adopt; unmarried couples may not adopt.

Adoptive families must complete at least ten hours of pre-adoption education in accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry adoption. This is typically completed while the home study is in progress.  We encourage families to read many books on adoptive parenting throughout the process.

Timeframe and Steps in the Process

Adopting from Burundi will generally take a minimum of one year.  The first step is the preparation of the dossier documents. This includes the home study and USCIS I-800A application and approval.

The dossier travels first to Bujumbura, where it is reviewed by our attorney, translated and then submitted to the Ministry of Solidarity for registration and review and then it is transferred to the Central Authority, for additional review. 

After the Central Authority approves the family’s dossier, the family is considered eligible for a proposed match.  The time it takes to offer a proposed match varies, depending upon the request of the adoptive family, the circumstances and history of the children who have resided in shelters for a minimum of one year, and their potential for being granted an abandonment decree, relinquishment or termination of parental rights.  Just as in the US, each case is different.  Children may be without any known relatives, or their parents may be known but deceased or unable to care for them.  Burundi takes particular care to ensure that preservation of the biological family is honored, both in the due diligence they do during the referral process and,  in that there is a thirty day waiting period after the adoption decree is issued.  This provides a final opportunity for a relative or Burundian to legally adopt the child.

Families may travel to Burundi only once or more often.  While one trip is a requirement, we recommend that families (one or both spouses) consider traveling to Burundi after their child referral is approved by the US Embassy and notification is received in Burundi.  This creates an opportunity for the child or children to get to know the family and thus reduce the stress of leaving their orphanage home and community.  While not required, the trip is also a way to convey to the Central Authority that US families have a genuine interest in the country and culture. To date, Burundi has been doing the majority of their intercountry adoptions with Spain and France. 

An additional benefit to a first trip is that… we know from experience than when families only travel to pick up their child, they have little time to actually get to know the culture or learn about their child’s country of origin.  They are focused on their new child and dealing with the details of the end stage of the adoption process.  It is emotionally exhausting.  Every adoptive family is an ambassador for all international families.  If you have time to make a trip, you will benefit yourself, your child, and the US-Burundi adoption community.

Burundi has strict regulations in place that protect the interests of children and conform to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.  We believe that their commitment to the principles of the Convention protects against corruption and child trafficking. 

The final decision about the referral of a child to a family rests with the Adoption Committee, which is composed of representatives of several government offices. After the Adoption Committee makes a referral of a child to a family, the Central Authority issues the formal referral, the “Article 16” report, with the child’s legal, social and medical history. The Adoption Committee has sole authority over these decisions.

Preparing the history of a child can take several weeks. Please keep in mind that resources are limited in developing countries and this can lead to delays in the collection of information.  When the referral documents are completed and translated, they can be submitted to USCIS with the family’s I-800 form and other required documents. Preparation and translations of the child’s documents may take several weeks.  Upon receipt of the I-800 form and accompanying documents, USCIS responds within two weeks.

After the I-800 is provisionally approved by USCIS, the file is transferred to the US Embassy.  The US Embassy initiates the visa application process with a Consular Officer, which requires additional documents from the family, including the DS 260.  If the Consular Officer determines the child appears eligible to immigrate to the US, the Ministries will be notified, and this notification is called the “Article 5” letter. Prospective adoptive parents cannot move forward in the adoption process until the Article 5 letter is issued.

The final steps include… court/ministerial approvals, the thirty day wait, a new birth certificate and passport for the child and other documents as may be requested by the US Embassy.  The US Consular Officer reviews the file and the Burundi Central Authority issues the “Article 23” certificate of Hague adoption. The family and child are then able to enter the final stage of the adoption. This will require at least one week in Burundi and involves a medical exam for the child or children by an Embassy approved doctor, an initial meeting at the US Embassy in Bujumbura and a final meeting at the US Embassy in Kenya, where the child’s visa is issued.  The family may then travel home with their child. 

General time frame projected; time must be allowed for governmental, political and staff changes, which can delay adoption processing…

5 months — time to get home study and USCIS approval and prepare dossier

1 month — shipping dossier and translation and registration at Central Authority

18+ months — referral wait unless older child, special needs or sibling group

6 months — from referral acceptance to get through court and bring child home

About 2 1/2 years.  This is not unusual these days for an international adoption.

Note: 1) Documents in English for presentation in Burundi must be translated to French and all documents in French re the child and adoption must be translated to English. This adds expense and time to the adoption process. 2) Families are obligated to provide post adoption reports per the requirements of the child’s country of origin and/or their state or agency.  A minimum of three reports is required by ICF. These are legal obligations and a pre-payment or deposit may be required.

Families planning their travel will find these Burundi language resources useful…

Kirundi Language
Kirundi Grammar
Here is a book by another author that comes with audio files as well:
Kirundi Audio Files
This is a link to a Bible in Kirundi with audio recordings to go along with the text; very helpful for learning rhythms of speak and tone:
Kirundi Bible with Audio
Kirundi Bible