An application for survivor's benefits has been filed on behalf of Akonefa O~ as the
adopted child of the deceased wage earner, Grace N~. Akonefa was born in Ghana on
December 4, 1974. Her mother died in childbirth. During a family meeting held in Ghana
on December 28, 1974, Ms. N~ allegedly adopted Akonefa in accordance with tribal custom.
Ms. N~ subsequently emigrated to California, where she died on May 28, 1984. Akonefa
has always resided in Ghana in the custody of her natural father, Mike O~.
The claims file contains two affidavits, both dated July 17, 1984 attesting to the
purported adoption. In his statement, Mr. O~ avers that the December 28, 1974 meeting
was called by the head of his family. Those in attendance agreed that Akonefa should
be adopted by her great aunt, Ms. ~. According to Mr. ~, Ms. N~ concurred with this
decision and immediately consented to the adoption. The second affidavit is signed
by Theodore A~~, the self-styled head of the family. Mr. ~ states that he convened
and presided over the December 28, 1974 meeting and that during the meeting Akonefa
was given in adoption to Ms. N~. Evidently, there is no written record, official or
unofficial, documenting the adoption. Based on the foregoing, you have asked whether
Akonefa was validly adopted under the laws of Ghana and, if so, whether such an adoption
would be recognized in California. .. .. Customary adoption is recognized in Ghana.
 The adoption must be conducted in public. The adoptive parent and child have to belong
to the same tribe. It is necessary for the adoptive parent to declare his/her intention
to adopt in the presence of witnesses and to obtain the consent of the family unit.
as well as the parents of the adoptee. Since a customary adoption need not be documented
or registered, the adoption may be established by the testimony of credible witnesses.
Although Ghanaian courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate the validity of a customary
adoption, a court decree is not essential to validate such an adoption. 
The adoption alleged in this case is attested to by two witnesses, including Akonefa's
only living natural parent, Mr. 0~, and the family leader who presided over the transaction,
Mr. A~ . The affidavits submitted by these wit- nesses indicate that all the requirements
for a customary adoption were met on December 28, 1974. Akonefa and Ms. N~ were members
of the same extended family and so, presumably, belonged to the same tribe. The adoption
was conducted openly with the apparent consent of the natural and adoptive parents
and the concurrence of the "family" as a whole. Thus, in our opinion, if you find
these affidavits to be trustworthy, you must also find that Akonefa was adopted by
Ms. N~ in accordance with Ghanaian law.
Your second question, regarding the recognition California would give to a Ghanaian
customary adoption, is not pertinent to the adjudication of this case. A claimant
is a "legally adopted child" under section 216(e) of the Act if the adoption is valid
under the law of the place where the adoption occurred and either the adoptive parent
or child was then a domiciliary of that place. GC opinions re Niko D~, September 13,
1961; Nick A~ D-10973, June 9, 1965. Since in this case all parties were domiciled
in Ghana at the time of the alleged adoption, Ghanian law is dispositive.