Adoption and Foster Care Services


The Department under the Adoption Act Cap 54 of the Laws of Zambia is also mandated with the responsibility of facilitating adoption services for children in need of care.

Adoption Services: It is important to note that Government’s policy is to ensure that every child is provided care and protection through a family system, and institutional care should be a measure of last resort. Therefore, the Ministry would like to encourage families who may wish to adopt a child/ren, to seek guidance from the Ministry (MCDSS) through the Department of Social Welfare for assistance.

The Adoption Process

  • The applicants seek- guidance from the Department of Social Welfare at head office or from the District level.
  • The applicant is then required to submit an application to the Commissioner for Juvenile Welfare (Director for Social Welfare Department) directly or through the respective District Social Welfare Office.
  • In situations where an applicant wishes to adopt a child and requests the Department to match them with a child to foster pending adoption, they have to submit their application to the Commissioner for Juvenile Welfare through the District Social Welfare Office indicating the sex and age of the child to be identified.
  • The District Social Welfare Officer together with the Child Care Facility will determine the children who are available for adoption depending on their individual circumstances and consequently forward Adoption application forms, Assessment report and other documentation to the Commissioner for Juvenile Welfare.
  • The Commissioner for Juvenile Welfare’s Office will then review the application and if satisfied that the application meets the requirements, then an Effective Date of Notice is issued signifying that the application to adoption has been approved. (The Effective date of Notice gives an instruction to the District Social Welfare Office to supervise the case until it is disposed off by the Court). An Amendment to the Adoption Act of 1997 provides that that a foreign infant (i.e., aged 18 years and below) be in the care of the Applicant in Zambia for 12 months consecutively before filling in an application for adoption to Court). The District Social Welfare Officer will assign an officer to supervise the case, prepare the Guardian ad litem report and take the matter to court for granting of the Adoption Order.
  • After the supervision period, an application would be made to Court to grant the Adoption Order. The Adoption Order is a legal document that authorises the Applicant to be the legal parent to the child. It is worth noting that the Courts have the final authority mandated to provide an Adoption Order, therefore, the Court may reject or approve an adoption application.
  • Once the Adoption Order has been granted, the Office of the Commissioner for Juvenile Welfare is required to write to the Office of the Registrar General-National Registration for the adoption to be registered.
  • Issuance of the Adoption Certificate by the Registrar General’s Office is the final part of the adoption Process.

Adoption Procedures /Requirements

i)Family Adoption (For Zambians within Zambia)

  1. Fill Application Forms to be accompanied by Assessment Report from DSWO.
  2. Attach copies of NRC or Passport (Certified) of person wishing to adopt.
  3. Photocopy of Child’s Birth Certificate (If any).
  4. Copy of Marriage Certificate (If married).
  5. Copy of Standard Consent Form (obtained from DSWO) signed by Magistrate.

ii)Family Adoption (For Zambians Living Abroad)

  1. a) Fill in application forms
  2. b) Home study report by a Social Worker in the country of residence
  3. c) Police Clearance from country of residence
  4. d) Bank statement to prove that person is not receiving Social
  5. e) Services or support from government in country of residence
  6. f)Copy of Passport (certified)
  7. g)Copy of residence permit
  8. h)Copy of consent form signed by legal guardian of the child

iii) Adoption Procedure for Non-Zambians

  1. a) Fill in application forms (available from Zambian Missions abroad)

or apply to:

The Commissioner for Juvenile Welfare

Department of Social Welfare

Ministry of Community Development and Social Services

P.O Box 31958



  1. b) Attach copies of Home Study Report by Approved Social Worker in country of Residence.
  2. c) Attach Police Clearance from country of residence
  3. d) Attach Bank statements to prove that applicant is not receiving social services or support from government.
  4. f) Include Certified copy of passport
  5. g) Include Medical Report from country of residence
  6. h) Attach Copy of recommendation from employer (if in employment) or from member of the public in good standing (with no criminal record) who has known the applicant for not less than five (5) years.


  • All services are free from the Department Social Welfare.
  • These procedures are in accordance with the Adoption Act CAP 54 of the Laws of Zambia.


You may also wish to know the following with regards to inter country adoptions; 

The Office of the Commissioner for Juvenile Welfare, in the Department of Social Welfare, as the Central Authority for Inter Country Adoptions in Zambia will receive the adoption application.

Note that Zambia is a signatory to the Hague Convention and as such applicants are required to contact the Adoption Central Authority or approved Adoption Agency in their jurisdiction to facilitate for Article 5 which states that;

An adoption within the scope of the Convention shall take place only if the competent authorities of the receiving State –

  1. a) have determined that the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suited to adopt;
  2. b) have ensured that the prospective adoptive parents have been counselled as may be necessary; and
  3. c) have determined that the child is or will be authorized to enter and reside permanently in that State.

The above information and processes help to establish safeguards to ensure that both domestic and Intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child and with respect for children’s fundamental rights as recognised by national and international law.

Details on Accreditation and Authorisation of Adoption Agencies click here.  

Foster Care Services

The Department also has the responsibility of facilitating foster care services by securing the Committal Orders for the children as mandated under the Juvenile Act, Cap 53 of the Laws of Zambia.

  • Foster Care is the temporal care provided to a child who has been legally placed in the care of a fit person who is either a relative or a non relative for a specified period upon recommendation to the Court by a Social Welfare Officer.
  • Foster care is one of the alternative Care options that can be used to provide children in need of care with an opportunity to grow and develop in a suitable family environment.


  • >>Emergency foster care: applies when a child is found abandoned or is harmed and an urgent placement is required while District Social Welfare Officers or social workers in a child care facility investigate and assess the home circumstances and prepare the child for reintegration where possible
  • >>Short-term foster care: where the child requires short-term planned care, while District Social Welfare Officers in collaboration with other professionals investigate, assess and prepares the child for reintegration where possible.
  • >>Long-term foster care: where the child requires long-term planned care, often until he or she reaches the age of 18 years, but is not suitable for adoption due to contact with the family, or is within a sibling group, or is older and would not wish to be adopted.


The following is the criteria for one to be eligible to foster a child in need of care:

  • They should be a married couple or single woman in a stable family;

Note *– No single male shall foster a child except where the District Social Welfare Office is of the view that it is in the child’s best interest;

  • >>The applicant should be willing to make temporary space in their life and home for a child
  • >>The applicants should be 25 years old or above except where the District Social Welfare Office is of the view that it is in the child’s best interest
  • >>The applicants should provide evidence that he or she can provide good quality child care – proof of income, medical statement among other things
  • >>The applicant should be able to provide the basic needs of the child – shelter, food, clothing, education, access to medical service and that the child may need to develop
  • >>The applicant should be willing to help the child have contact with his or her parents and relatives as decided by the District Social Welfare Office.


Application to foster

  • A prospective foster parent will submit a formal application to foster to the Director of Social Welfare through the District Social Welfare Office.
  • Prospective foster parents, can state their preference for a particular age, sex and number of children they wish to foster.
  • However, prospective foster parents are not allowed to identify a child in advance unless they are relatives of the child.
  • The District Social Welfare Officer should ensure that the following documents are attached to the application:

    • >> Proof of nationality/residence
    • >> Proof of income/assets
    • >> If married, a certified copy of marriage certificate/certificate of Marriage
    • >> Health statement for the applicant from a government medical institution
    • >> Reference letter from two persons of good standing in the community
    • >>Police Clearance Certificate.


  • Assessment of the Prospective Foster Parents
    • District Social Welfare Officer will conduct the Home Assessment (home visits) that will involve intensive interviews and observations to determine the suitability of the prospective foster parents/family
    • The District Social Welfare Officer will also assess health matters of the prospective foster parents and other members of the foster family.


Training and Approval of Foster Parents

  • Once the Prospective foster parents have been fully assessed, the District Social Welfare Officer will prepare a Home Assessment Report and invite prospective foster parents who are deemed eligible to attend the Foster Care Training programme.
  • The foster care training programme aims at preparing the prospective foster parents to be adequately prepared to foster a child in need of care
  • The training also helps prospective foster parents to further evaluate their ability to foster.


Which children can be fostered

    • Any child who cannot live with or be reintegrated with his or her birth parents or extended family can be place in a foster family.

    The following are the types of children that can be fostered:

    • >> A child who has no parent or guardian,
    • >> A child whose parent or guardian is not exercising proper care and guardianship
    • >>A child who is an unaccompanied child who has been separated from his or her parents or family
    • >>A child who is a member of the same household as a person who has been convicted of an offence against a child
    • >>A child who is an unaccompanied minor of foreign origin with or without the necessary documentation