Making Kenya’s adoption process easier, simpler

By People Daily
Thursday, October 15th, 2020
Constitution of Kenya. Photo/Courtesy
In summary

Jerusha Gichohi   

The basic underlying reason people choose to adopt is the desire to build or expand a family.

This is common among couples medically unable to bear  children. Each adoption process shares same ultimate purpose: to unite children who need supportive families with those that want children.

Yet, despite this , many  such people are encumbered or discouraged by what is often regarded as complexity of adoption.

To address this and other concerns, the Family Division of the High Court has come up with a booklet, Adoption Process Simplified, to provide guidance to prospective foster parents on adoption.

Co-authored by the bar-bench members in the Division, it was published with the support of international Development Law Organisation.

According to the booklet, to adopt one must be aged 25-65 years. However, under special circumstances, the court may allow persons above 65 to adopt.

The applicants must be at least 21 years older than the child. Notably, the Children’s Act prohibits an adoption process before a child has been declared free of adoption by a registered adoption society. 

A relative is eligible to adopt a child if biological parents have passed on or are unable to take care of their needs.

Single people can also adopt on condition the child is of the same sex with the m, unless they are able to convince the court the need to change the rule.

Joint applicants can adopt a child, provided they have been married for at least three years.

Foreigners have been barred from adopting until Ministry of Labour and Social Protection formulates regulations for this.

However, courts  foreign nationals can adopt provided they are married to a Kenyan.

In the booklet, downloadable from the Judiciary website, the process begins when an applicant visits a registered and accredited adoption society for introduction and orientation.

The agency will conduct investigations to ascertain their suitability to adopt.

Applicants must provide identification documents, financial status records, marriage certificate and certificate of good conduct.

The agency also inspects condition of adopters’ home to prepare a social inquiry report on their suitability to adopt.

Once cleared, the agency then matches and places a child with the applicants in a process overseen by a social worker.

Thereafter, a Care Agreement between the applicant and the children’s home is executed and the child is officially released to prospective parents.

The fostering period begins, with the child under the applicant’s care for at least  three months.

During this time, adoptive parents will be evaluated by a children’s officer on financial, emotion, and social capabilities to take care of the child.

After this period, applicants can start the formal adoption process in court.

This process, which takes in place in the Family Division, ensures all adoption applicants are heard in Chambers and identity of both child and applicants is kept confidential.

It begins with originating summons application, which seeks for adoption to be granted.

The applicant gives a sworn statement in support of the application, documents with details of the child and applicant, legal guardian affidavit of consent and a pre-placement report.

Supporting documents vary depending on adoption. For an abandoned baby, they may include a police report confirming the incident was reported to the police; if the child is being adopted by a relative, it will include biological parent’s copy of identification or death certificate. 

The court will appoint a guardian to act as link between the court and the child to  ensures the child’s interests and wellbeing are safeguarded.

Director of Children’s Services is obligated to investigate the applicant and file a report in court before adoption is completed.

After court issues an adoption Order, the parties proceed to apply for an Adoption Certificate from the Office of the Registrar General at Sheria House.

The final stage is acquisition of a Birth Certificate through the Registrar of Births and Deaths.  This formal adoption process ensures  biological parents cannot make claim of the adopted child. — Writer is the Assistant Director, Public Affairs and Communication at the Judiciary