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Criteria for adopting from Ethiopia

Ethiopia is not a Hague Convention country. They have many children, including very young children who need families.

Please note: 26 April 2017

"The UK Department for Education has been notified by the British Embassy in Addis Ababa that a moratorium on intercountry adoption has been put in place by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women and Children (MOWA) with immediate effect. We understand that the moratorium is currently in place for a month whilst MOWA review their intercountry adoption system, but it could be extended and intercountry adoptions will be put on hold until further notice. "


 To adopt a child from Ethiopia, you must be able to fulfil both the laws of the UK and the adoption laws of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is a very popular country to adopt from for UK families.

The eligibility criteria for prospective adoptive parents from Ethiopia are as follows:


Age of Prospective Adoptive Parents

You must be at least 25 years of age, and a maximum age limit of 65. 

In addition to this, sometimes the Ethiopian Government limits the age difference between the prospective adoptive parent and the child to no more then 40 years. This is a guideline.



There is a preference for placing children with married couples who have been married for at least 5 years.

Single applicants may adopt and unmarried men are ineligible unless they are of Ethiopian descent and are adopting a family member.

Same sex couples or gay individuals are not permitted to adopt from Ethiopia



Although there is no set minimum income requirement, adoptive parents must prove financial ability as determined by the Ethiopian courts.


Residency requirements

There are no residency requirements to adopt from Ethiopia. You will be required to travel to Ethiopia prior to finalizing the adoption in the Ethiopian courts, which means that it will be a two trip process.


Single Adoptions

Adoption agencies in Ethiopia have different policies regarding single applicants and it is advisable to contact an agency to ascertain their current policies.



The Children available for adoption

Children from Ethiopia need to meet specific requirements before they come available for international adoption. You cannot adopt a child who does not meet these requirements. 

Orphans identified for inter-country adoption are those who have being abandoned by their birth parents, or whose parents have died, or being lost due to misfortune. The Ethiopian Ministry of Woman;s Affairs (MOWA) is the organisation that is responsible for identifying orphans in need of families through inter-country adoption.


Abandonment Requirements:

If a child is abandoned in Ethiopia, by law he or she comes into the custody of the Government of Ethiopia. 

If a child is found to have two HIV or AIDs infected parents, or one living HIV/AIDS infected parent, the Government will declare that the child is an orphan and will assume legal guardianship. 


Relinquishment Requirements:

When a child has been offered for adoption, the guardian or the orphanage needs to relinquished their legal rights to the adopted child.  A Contract of Adoption is issued and must be signed to prove that the legal rights of the child has been relinquished.


Waiting Period

A child must be resident in an orphanage for a minimum of three months before the being adopted.


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May 2011

Slowdown in Ethiopia

Ethiopia's adoption authority has radically reduced the number of foreign adoptions it is processing because of a concern about unethical behaviour. Cases are being processed in a "more deliberate" fashion and roughly 5 cases will be processed per day.

Expect delays as there are approximately 1,000 applications in-process.

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