Guest Author - Karen Ledbetter
These particular letters are almost certainly scams. Is international adoption from Cameroon even remotely possible? Is it even legal?
Cameroon is located on Africa’s west coast, bordering Nigeria, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and the Bight of Biafra. The Cameroonian people speak English and French.
According to the U.S. Department of State web site, as of August 2006, Americans could adopt from Cameroon through the Ministry of Social Affairs and the High Court, as long as the age, marriage, financial, and medical requirements were met.
At least one of a couple must be over age 40. However, if a couple has been married for 10 years, then the age requirement lowers to 35. Hopeful adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the child they wish to adopt.
Since Cameroon does not have adoption agencies, orphanages are free to release children for adoption. While all orphanages are apparently free to release children for adoption, not all orphanages are accredited by Cameroon’s Ministry of Social Affairs.
Apparently there are legitimate attorneys and social workers who provide adoption services to Americans wishing to adopt from Cameroon. The U. S. Embassy in Cameroon can provide this information to families interested in adopting from Cameroon. Each family is assigned a social worker to help the family locate a Cameroonian child to adopt and to provide the post-placement followup. The social worker determines whether the adoption can proceed and files a report with the Cameroonian High Court. Once certain criteria have been met, the High Court determines whether or not to issue an adoption decree.
Required documents include application to the President of the High Court; a certified copy of the child’s Cameroonian birth certificate; biographic information on the biological, as well as the adoptive, parents; a home study report, financial documents, and medical certification of the adoptive parents. Of course, various unsundry fees go along with the documents.
So, it appears that it is possible to adopt from Cameroon. However, to avoid getting scammed, ignore those enticing e-mails and follow the proper procedures through Cameroon’s Ministry of Social Affairs and High Court, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon. And it wouldn’t hurt to hire an attorney on the U.S. Embassy’s list.