Over the past weeks, I have dialogued with a few professionals who have expressed their desire to adopt a child. Adoption is a very personal decision for prospective parents to make. It’s impossible to say there is one reason why people adopt — because, in actuality, every family chooses adoption for different reasons. Adoption is the process by which a child’s biological parental rights are transferred to another adult or a couple who will assume all the responsibilities of raising the child. In Jamaica, there are two types of adoption procedures:
- Application for an Adoption Order – this is required to complete an adoption locally
- Application for a Licence – this is required when seeking approval for the child to be released to citizens of scheduled countries to be adopted abroad.
In order for an application for an adoption to be considered, a person seeking to adopt should be 25 years and upwards – exception is made for persons who are related to the child (18years & over). It should also be noted that the child should be older than six weeks but should be younger than eighteen years old. According to section 10 of The Children (Adoption of) Act, the rights of the original biological parents needs to be relinquished, which means that they must give consent for the adoption of the child or children. Consent is not required if the child is a ward of the state, or if it can be proven that the parents are dead, or that neither parents can be found when every attempt possible has been made to locate them (for example, by placing an advertisement in the newspaper).
To start the adoption process, one can visit the Child Development Agency (CDA) to complete the Application form – there is an office in each parish. The one in Manchester is located at Caledonia Mall Plaza in Mandeville. The adoption process is rigorous and is believed to take an excessively long time to complete. The Honourable Floyd Green, state minister in the youth ministry disclosed in Parliament in 2017, that the process is being made simpler to ease the backlog of cases. The current adoption process as outlined by the CDA, is as follows:
- Arrangements will be made for an officer to visit your home to check to determine its suitability.
- After all documentation required is obtained, all consents and interviews gathered, the Case Committee report is prepared.
- After a case is submitted to the Case Committee of the Adoption Board and a decision is made, the outcome of the decision would be relayed to the applicant.
- Approved cases are then prepared for court. Applicants have to attend an interview and have dialogue with their case worker to make the necessary arrangements for Court.
- After the order is issued by the Court, the Adopter will take this order to the Registrar General Department (RGD) where they will apply for the child’s adopted birth certificate. It should be noted that once a child has been adopted, their former identity is no longer admissible and their former birth record is sealed.
Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)