America World's Rwanda Program
Rwanda is a verdant and beautiful country, often referred to as “the Land of a Thousand Hills” and the “Switzerland of Africa”. Rwanda is about the size of Vermont, but boasts a population of about ten million; its population density is the highest of any country in Africa and currently has one of the world’s highest birth rates. Unfortunately, UNICEF estimates that there are nearly one million orphans and vulnerable children; children are primarily orphaned due to poverty.
Originally, Rwanda was colonized by Germany in the 1880’s and fell to Belgian rule after World War 1. The primary educational force in the country was the Roman Catholic Church throughout Belgian rule, which came to a peaceful, but rather abrupt end when independence was declared in 1962. Landlocked and bordered by Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the majority of its inhabitants are subsistence farmers.
As with all African nations, Rwanda has diversity in languages and cultures, yet unlike its neighbors it is primarily home to only two ethnic groups (Tutsi and Hutu). The national language of Rwanda is Kinyarwanda.
Rwanda is well known to many Americans because of the tragic events that unfolded there in the spring of 1994. Much has been written about the genocide and resources are widely available on the web and elsewhere for those who wish to be informed about its history, probable causes and about the way forward. Rwandans today struggle to recover not just from that singular event, but from a legacy of 60 years of intermittent war.
Rwanda’s international adoption process is relatively inexpensive and can be completed in a relatively short period of time. International adoption is still fairly uncommon in Rwanda and the government has been re-writing many of the country’s adoption laws to formalize a consistent process. After filling out an application and receiving approval through America World’s intake process, prospective parents sign an Agreement with our agency and begin the “paper-chase”. During this stage of adoption, families assemble all the necessary paperwork for their dossier. America World assigns each family a Family Coordinator to help them compile their dossier, which includes a Home Study and approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Before a dossier is submitted to the Rwandan government’s Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, it is certified and authenticated in order for the documents to be used as a legal framework for adoption. This is a three step process in which a document is certified by a Secretary of State, the US Department of State and the Rwandan Embassy in D.C. Family Coordinators will assist families with this process and America World’s courier service obtains certifications in D.C.
Once the dossier is in Rwanda it is processed and examined by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion. Our staff works with government officials and orphanages to make a match between prospective parents and a child. Prospective parents can wait anywhere from 1 – 6 months before receiving a referral. When parents receive a referral it includes a picture, medical information, and socio-biographical sketch of the child’s life. All children are tested for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and other medical conditions. Prospective parents are given the option to accept or reject a referral.
The in-country portion of the adoption takes place in both Rwanda and in Nairobi, Kenya.