Child adoption is legal in Nigeria. However, Nigerian adoption laws are complex and vary from state to state making the adoption process a little difficult.  In general, prospective adoptive parents who intend to adopt a specific child must first obtain temporary custody of the child.  The law requires that a parent-child relationship be established before the court decision to allow adoption can be considered final. Each state determines the length of time it takes to establish the parent-child relationship.

In states like Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age and at least 21 years older than the child. For a married couple, at least one parent must meet the age requirements and must adopt jointly. Single individuals may also adopt but a single person will not be allowed (except in extraordinary circumstances) to adopt a child of the opposite sex. There are also employment/income requirements for legal child adoption and these varies from state to state.

The social welfare office of the state (mostly a department within the ministry of women affairs) where the child is located is considered the adoption authority. The application for adoption originates from the social welfare office of the state where the child is located. The Government office responsible for adoptions in Nigeria is the magistrate court of the state where the child is located. Prospective adoptive couples and/or individuals are advised to obtain information on adopting in individual states through the state social welfare office where the adoption will take place.

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