How to Adopt a Child in Nigeria
How to Adopt a Child in Nigeria

Adopting a child in Nigeria can be a tedious but rewarding process. With the right guidance and preparation, your dream of welcoming a child into your family can become a reality. This comprehensive guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to legally adopt a child in Nigeria from start to finish.

How to Adopt a Child in Nigeria: A Step-by-Step Guide to Legally Adopting Process

What is Adoption?

Adoption is a legal process where the parental rights and responsibilities of a child are transferred from the biological parents to the adoptive parents. It establishes a permanent legal parent-child relationship between the adoptive parents and the adopted child.

Once the adoption order is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, the child becomes a legitimate child of the adoptive parents. The adopted child will also take on the surname of the adoptive parents.

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Types of Adoption in Nigeria

There are two main types of adoption in Nigeria:

Statutory Adoption

This is adoption done according to the provisions of the law. The process is governed by the Child’s Rights Act 2003 and the Adoption Laws of each State in Nigeria. It establishes a permanent legal parent-child relationship.

Customary Adoption

This is an informal adoption rooted in the culture and traditions of local communities. It does not sever the legal ties between the child and the biological parents. The child may still inherit from the biological parents.

Statutory adoption is more secure and confers more rights to the child. It is recommended for a more thorough adoption process.


Who Can Adopt a Child in Nigeria?

According to the Child’s Rights Act 2003, the following persons are eligible to adopt a child in Nigeria:

  • A married couple provided that they are at least 25 years old.
  • A married person who has the consent of their spouse.
  • A single female, provided she is at least 35 years old and adopting a female child.
  • A single male, provided he is at least 35 years old and adopting a male child.

The law prohibits same-sex couples from adopting children in Nigeria.

The intending parents must be financially and emotionally capable of raising the child. They must be of good character and found suitable by the investigating social welfare officers.


Who Can Be Adopted in Nigeria?

Only a child under the age of 18 can be adopted in Nigeria. The upper age limit varies between 16 and 18 years depending on the State.

The child must be an orphan, abandoned, or given up for adoption voluntarily by the biological parent(s). The parent(s) or legal guardian must provide consent, except in special circumstances.


Adoption Process in Nigeria

The steps involved in adopting a child in Nigeria are outlined below:

1. Choose an Adoption Agency

Contact a government-approved adoption agency to express your interest in adopting a child. They will guide you through the adoption process.

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Some reputable agencies include:

  • The Child Protection Network, Lagos
  • Pacelli School for the Blind and Partially Sighted Children, Lagos
  • The Leprosy Mission Nigeria
  • Motherless Babies Home, Ibadan
  • The Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Centre, Abuja

2. Submit Adoption Application

Obtain and complete the adoption application forms from the agency. Attach the required documents including medical certificates, marriage certificates, photographs, proof of residence, income statements, and referees.

3. Home Study

A social welfare officer will visit your home to assess if it is suitable for raising a child. They will examine factors like living conditions, space, finances, values, and your motivation to adopt.

4. Interview

You and your spouse will be interviewed separately by the adoption agency to determine your suitability as prospective adoptive parents.

5. Select the Child

Once approved, you will be shown profiles of adoptable children. Select a child that you wish to adopt. The child will also need to approve you.

6. Apply to the Court

The agency will apply to the High Court on your behalf for an adoption order. A lawyer is usually hired by the agency for this.

7. Foster the Child

You will need to foster the child for at least 3 months before adopting. This allows you to bond and assess your compatibility.

8. Attend Court Hearing

A court hearing will be conducted where you, your spouse, and the child will be examined to ensure adoption is in the best interest of the child.

9. Adoption Order

If approved by the court, an adoption order will be issued. The child then becomes your legal child.

10. Obtain New Documents

Apply for a new birth certificate, passport, etc. listing you as the child’s legal parent. Inform relevant agencies like immigration, banks, schools, etc.

The entire process may take about 1-2 years from start to completion. Engage an experienced family lawyer to guide the process.


Cost of Adopting a Child in Nigeria

The cost of adopting a child in Nigeria can range from ₦200,000 to ₦4,000,000 depending on various factors like:

  • Age of the child
  • Agency charges
  • Medical expenses
  • Legal fees
  • Court fees
  • Bribes (unofficial but common)
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Be prepared for the significant costs involved in adopting a child in Nigeria.


Rights of an Adopted Child

By law, adopted children have equal rights, privileges, and responsibilities as biological children of the adoptive parents. Some key rights include:

  • Right to inheritance from adoptive parents
  • Right to use the surname of adoptive parents
  • Right to maintenance and education
  • Right to be sole beneficiary in adoptive parent’s will
  • Right to remain permanently with adoptive family


Challenges of Adopting in Nigeria

  • Lengthy bureaucratic process
  • High cost
  • Possibility of bribery and corruption
  • Lack of robust adoption infrastructure
  • The stigma associated with adoption
  • Fear of scams and illegal practices

However, the rewards of providing a home to a child in need far outweigh the challenges. Seek professional support to navigate the process smoothly.


Frequently Asked Questions on Child Adoption in Nigeria

Here are some common questions about adopting a child in Nigeria:

1. Can a single man or woman adopt a child in Nigeria?

Yes, single persons above 35 years can adopt in Nigeria. However, a single male can only adopt a male child and a single female can only adopt a female child.

2. Can couples who are cohabiting adopt children?

No. Under Nigerian law, only legally married couples are eligible to jointly adopt children.

3. Can foreigners adopt children from Nigeria?

Foreigners can adopt a Nigerian child but the process is quite tedious. They are required to naturalize the child in their home country after adopting in Nigeria.

4. How much does it cost to adopt a child in Nigeria?

The cost of adoption ranges from ₦200,000 to ₦4,000,000 depending on the child’s age, legal expenses, agency fees, and other unofficial payments.

5. Is it possible to foster a child before adopting in Nigeria?

Yes, most adoption agencies require prospective parents to foster the child for at least 3 months before adopting. This allows bonding and evaluating compatibility.

6. Can adopted children inherit properties in Nigeria?

Yes, legally adopted children have equal inheritance rights as biological children and can inherit from adoptive parents.

7. Does an adopted child retain the surname of biological parents?

No, once adopted the child assumes the surname of the adoptive parents for all legal purposes.

8. How long does it take to complete the adoption process in Nigeria?

On average, it takes between 1-2 years from the initial application to the final adoption order by the court.

9. What documents do I need for adopting a child in Nigeria?

Documents like marriage certificates, medical reports, income proof, photos, birth certificates, home study reports, and consent letters from biological parents are required.

10. Can same-sex couples adopt children in Nigeria?

No. Nigerian law explicitly prohibits adoption by same-sex couples. Only heterosexual couples can adopt.



Adopting a child in Nigeria is a long yet fulfilling process aimed at providing a loving family to children in need. Make sure to comply with all legal requirements and work with accredited agencies to avoid complications. Seek legal guidance throughout the process.

With proper preparation, patience, and perseverance, your dream of welcoming a child into your life can become a reality through adoption even in Nigeria!


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