When you decide to adopt internationally, the first thing you need to do is research which countries are open to adoption. Some countries, such as China and South Korea, have fairly predictable systems of adoption, but others, like Uganda, can fluctuate greatly.

It’s important to note that Uganda is not a Hague Convention country. This is a significant distinction, as it means there are no overall guidelines for intercountry adoption. In 2016, there were 187 adoptions from Uganda, but owing to a recent amendment to Uganda’s Children Act, adoption from this beautiful, landlocked East African country has become more difficult.

New Requirements

In May 2016, the Ugandan president signed into law an amendment that changed the requirements for intercountry adoption. Like many countries, Uganda has reprioritized domestic adoption, calling intercountry adoption “a last option” for waiting children. Per the new amendment, available children may only be assigned guardianship to individuals who have resided in Uganda for at least three continuous months. This means that if you are interested in adopting a child, you must live in the country of Uganda for 90 days prior to assuming guardianship.

But once you assume guardianship, you will still need to remain in the country. The good news is the amendment changed the pre-adoption residency requirement from three years to one year, so once you assume guardianship, you may begin fostering your child in-country. These requirements may be waived in “exceptional circumstances,” but there is no reference for what these exceptional circumstances might be. Without a waiver, you can expect to spend roughly 15 months in Uganda.

The U.S. State Department advises that the May 2016 changes to intercountry adoption laws may be the first of other changes yet to come. One of the difficulties has been that the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development—Uganda’s central adoption authority—and Uganda’s High Court often have differing interpretations of Ugandan law and regulations. This has led to confusion for prospective adoptive parents, as well as misinformation for those parents already engaging in in-country fostering.

Adopting from Uganda

The children available for adoption from Uganda are between the ages of 2 and 8 years old. Prospective adoptive parents must be open to a child at least 3 years of age. Like most international adoption, children with special needs are common, including children affected by malaria or who are HIV positive.

If you are interested in adopting from Uganda, you should know there are some additional requirements. Prospective parents must be at least 25 years of age and must be at least 21 years older than the adoptive child. For married couples, there is no minimum duration of marriage to qualify for adoption. Singles are welcome to apply, though single applicants may only adopt a child of the same sex. There are no minimum financial requirements to apply, though families with five children or more are not permitted to adopt. The average timeline for adoption is 18 to 36 months, and the cost falls between $30,000 and $40,000, including agency, program, government, and travel fees.

To learn about a real family who adopted from Uganda, click here.

For international adoption photolisting, visit adoption.com/photolisting.

Jennifer S. Jones is a writer, performer, storyteller, and arts educator. In a small government office in China, Jennifer became an adoptive mother. She is passionate about the adoption community and talks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, joys and “Is this really us?!?” whenever she can. She writes about her experiences at www.letterstojack.com.