Every child deserves a home and love. Period.
Adoption is simply the act of taking in a child and taking up the responsibility to parent that child and assuming all duties and responsibilities that come with parenting.
In Kenya the process of adoption is governed by the Children’s Act of 2001. As an individual who is interested in adopting a child you begin your journey by visiting a licensed adoption agency. There are several such agencies. These are: –
- Little Angels
- Change Trust
- Kenya Christian Homes (KCH)
The law provides that an adoption order may be made upon the application of a sole applicant or jointly by two spouses where the applicant or at least one of the joint applicants—
- has attained the age of twenty-five years and is at least twenty-one years older than the child but has not attained the age of sixty-five years;
- or (b) is a relative of the child; or
- (c) is the mother or father of the child.
- The spouses have to have been married for a minimum of 3 years.
Previously, international adoptions i.e. adoptions by foreigners were allowed. However, a moratorium was placed on international adoptions and as such effectively stopping international adoptions.
If you meet all the requirements as an applicant, then the Adoption Agency will have you fill out an application and undergo medical tests. Once you have completed the application, it will be placed before the National Adoption Committee for consideration. Once approved, then the matching process begins.
Many people often wonder if they have a hand in selecting their baby? Well, applicants are encouraged to consider adoption like giving birth as opposed to shopping for the baby. However, applicants can give their preference to the age of the baby and gender. Further, at the application stage, applicants normally furnish the agency with full length pictures. These are used to match the applicants with children who have the greatest physical resemblance to them.
As adoption law practitioners, one of our clients’ greatest fears is whether people claiming to be biological parents to your new baby will suddenly appear from the woodworks. So the question that arises is where do babies who are put up for adoption come from?
The Process of adoption in Kenya for a child begins when a child in need of care and protection is committed to a home till they turn 18 years. A child in need of care and protection is a child whose family is unknown and cannot be traced and they have to stay at a children’s home. The Children’s home is then free to declare the child free for adoption. There are also mothers who give up their children for adoption for a myriad of reasons.
It is rare that biological parents will come and claim a baby during adoption as their own. However, there is one reported case where biological parents came to claim a child being adopted as their own and the Court agreed with them. We once again stress that this is a very rare occurrence.
When you are matched with your baby, there is a bonding period that is allowed before taking your baby home. This allows for both the parents and the baby to get used to each other in a familiar environment for the baby. When it is finally time for the baby to go home, you, the new parent and the Children’s home sign a foster agreement. This foster agreement provides for a foster period. The foster period is to last for 3 months (90 days). During this period the home as well as the adoption agency can visit to see how the baby is fairing on and settling in to their new environment.
After the foster period is over, the parents can now move to court and file their application ay the Family Division High Court. At the first hearing a guardian ad litem is appointed by the Court. The purpose of a guardian ad litem as provided by the law is to be they eyes of the Court during the process and at the tail end of the process they are meant to file a report that will guide the Court in making its final determination. Further, the government’s children’s office will be ordered to do a home visit and file a report in Court as well that the Court will rely on as well while making its judgement.
The 2nd and final hearing is triggered once the Children’s office files their report. At the 2nd hearing, the guardian ad litem as well as the Children’s Office will be present in Court to present their reports. Once this happens, the Court then gives a judgement date.
It is important to mention family adoptions. These are children that are either orphaned and are to be adopted by family members or adoptions of a child by a spouse to the biological parent of the child. The process still starts at the adoption agency. The only thing that would differ is the foster period as it may not be necessary where the child is already in the same home as the applicant.
Once judgement is given and the adoption approved a child is issued with both and adoption certificate as well as a birth certificate in the new names of the parents choosing.
Our advice to applicants is to give the Court process at least a year. This is to allow for Court vacations, the Children’s Department scheduling of a home visit as well as the preparation of the judgement.