Adopting a child – Understand the gestation period…

Though you may long for the experience of birthing a child, the real experience of fulfillment lies in pouring yourself into their little lives and seeing what your care produces. Michelle Mckinney Hammond – Foster Mother of Nicole and Elsie.

You may be in the category that finds adoption as good as fiction. Locally, we are grappling with scarce resources: time, money and knowledge to go about far flung subjects like adoption. But adoption is real, it is happening and tomorrow you might just feel the need to make a lonely baby yours.

What is adoption? In my language, adoption is a growing relationship. You are first attracted to the desire of making the best out of an individual, you identify your capacity to do this, you begin making room for the beloved individual emotionally, socially, economically, spiritually and then you start working on the modalities that will take you to the dock: where you will  say. I hereby take you Gaby as my lawful child. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.’

Your new baby could have been a product of deceased parents, an unwanted pregnancy, could be having a special need- that may have overwhelmed the parents, he could be a victim of abuse, or something else. As a result he is taken to the Children’s Home with the available information about him by a person whom the law refers to as Guardian.

According to Phyllis Namachanja, our legal advisor this month, there are a number of requirements to meet to make you legible to adopt. You need to be married couples of at least three years. The other prerequisite is that at least you or your spouse must be between 25 and 65 years old. and more than 21 years older than the child you would like to adopt. You must have all the necessary resources to bring up the baby in the best way possible. This includes financial stability. The law allows you to adopt a relative.

The lawyer informs us that adoption will not be given to: a person who is not of sound mind, a person who has been charged or previously convicted of child abuse. It will not be given to a homosexual, an applicant or joint applicants who are not married to each other, a sole foreign male applicant intending to adopt a female child, a sole female applicant intending to adopt a male child, or to an applicant above age 65.

So if you don’t fall in the above category, you can begin working the process of bringing your baby to ‘term’. First, a consent (written agreement that is presented in court) from the parents, guardians or any person having parental responsibility over a child to be adopted before any adoption, is required. You need to make sure that this document is available. However, if the parents or guardians abandoned or neglected their baby: if they cannot be found; if they are unnecessarily withholding the consent: or if the spouses separated permanently, the tedious consenting process (that results from the mentioned circumstances) can be done away with.

Adoption orders are issued by the High Court of Kenya only, and not any lower court. Once issued, the order is served at the Marriages and Adoptions Office for entry into the Adopted Children’s Register and Issuance of the Adoption Certificate.

The adoption order must be accompanied by the original birth certificate of the child. In the case of abandoned babies, for whom no birth certificate is issued, documents from relevant authorities proving that the child was abandoned must accompany the adoption order. These may include a police report, Children’s Department report and a letter from the children’s home or hospital that held the forsaken baby. The fee payable for the certificate is Ksh. 100.

The Registrar’s office then confirms the authenticity of the documents from court and liaises with the Registrar of Births and Deaths to have that birth entry marked ’ADOPTED.’

The adoption is then entered into the Children’s Register and an Adoption certificate issued.
An adoption order has the effect of transferring all rights, duties and responsibilities over a child to the adopting parent as if the child was born to the adopting parent within a lawful marriage. It snuffs out the rights, duties that a parent, guardian or anyone having parental responsibility before the order was made—bringing you to where you tell the court. ’I do.’

The Adoption Secretariat, which meets monthly, manages and regulates matters of adoption in Kenya for both local and international adoption. It is approved adoption societies that make an application on behalf of applicants wishing to adopt a Kenyan child. These are: Little Angels Network. Kenya Christian Homes. Child Welfare Society of Kenya (Head Office) among others.

Structures involved in the adoption process are the Judiciary, the Adoption Committee. Children’s Department, Adoption Societies, and the Law Society of Kenya. Other important players are: the Department of Immigration, the Registrar General, Missions of Foreign Countries and Charitable Children Institutions.

Adoption is both a legal and social process. All the players have their role to play in a properly conducted adoption process.

Note: It is prohibited by law to advertise a child for adoption or a person desiring to adopt. The procedure should remain confidential.

Main Steps
1. Assessment of the prospective

adoptive parents by an adoption society.

2. Declaration of a child proposed as ‘free for adoption’ by an adoption society.

3. Placement of child with applicants.

4. Three months of mandatory

bonding period within the Republic of Kenya prior to filing matter before court.

5. Legal appointment of a Guardian.

6. Hearing.

7. Assessment of reports.

8. Final adoption orders.

9. Issuance of Adoption Certificate by Registrar General.

Phyllis Namachanja is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

END: BL17/70-71

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