Child Adoption process in Kenya

Child Adoption process in Kenya

Taking in a new member into your family may sometimes prove to be a hard task. Apart from being overwhelmed with excitement, paperwork can prove to be really tiresome, and some, a long process. Well, for your own legal rights and responsibilities to the child and the interest of the child, the law requires you to meet a few things before you can adopt a child in Kenya. First, you need to figure out how to begin the adoption process, what’s the procedure of adopting a child and find out if you meet the requirements for adopting a child in Kenya, both for citizens and foreigners who wish to adopt a child.  

A child’s best environment to grow up in is his home surrounded by family members.

Every child deserves and has a right to shelter, clothing, food and an education. Provisions that are essential for any child around the world need to enable their development all round to facilitate smooth transition from childhood to adulthood.

But the truth is, we are not equals in terms of where we come from. No one chooses to be born in the family they are in. You did not send in an application to be born in the Mutua’s, Lemaiyan’s, Smith’s, Kardashian’s or any other family out there.

When we talk of child matters there are different principles that guide how to deal with them; best interests of the child, non-discrimination, participation and survival and development.

When a couple or an individual makes up the mind to take in a child from an orphanage they must have done the relevant research and had an in depth conversation to psychologically prepare for the next big steps. There are of course legal procedures to be followed before a court and children officers involved to award guardianship or custody over a minor.

In Kenya, Chapter 141 of the The Children Act addresses provision for parental responsibility, fostering, adoption, custody, maintenance, guardianship, care and protection of children.

Any child below age 18, who is abandoned, an orphan without guardian willing to take care of him/her, whose parents/ family is unknown, is eligible for adoption. This is done through an adoption society for example Little Angels Network, Kenya Children’s Home, Kenyan’s to Kenyan’s Peace Initiative (KKPI) Adoption Society, Change Trust and Child Welfare Society of Kenya.

The Adoption Process

According to the Guidelines for the Alternative Family Care of Children in Kenya, Adoption is the complete severance of the legal relationship between a child and his/her biological parent(s) and birth family, and the establishment of a new legal relationship between the child and his/her adoptive parent(s).

There are different types of adoption as follows;

i. Domestic (national) adoption refers to adoption by adopters who are Kenyan and where the child they are adopting is resident in Kenya. Applications for domestic adoption are initiated through a duly registered local adoption society.

ii. Foreign resident adoption refers to adoption by adopters who are not Kenyan nationals, but have lived in Kenya for over three years and who adopt a child who is Kenyan.

iii. Inter-country (international) adoption refers to adoption of a Kenyan child by adopters who are not Kenyan and live outside Kenya. Inter-country adoptions are processed through an approved foreign adoption agency in conjunction with a Kenyan adoption society registered to make international adoption arrangements. Applications must be approved by the National Adoption Committee before a child is placed with an international applicant.

iv. Kinship or family adoption refers to adoption by adopters who are kin or relatives within the extended family of the child. Applications for kinship adoption are similar to domestic adoption. A bonding period is necessary where the child has not been living with the prospective adopter.

Step 1: The journey begins with an orientation meeting for inquiries and forms are filled at this point.

Step 2: The next step would be social workers visit to the home of the interested parents for purposes of fact-checking including security, reasons to adopt, home environment (is it conducive for a child), the age and sex of the expected child e.t.c.

Step 3: Then follows a meeting session with the adopting parents and a child identified by the social workers for introduction purposes and to create time for a bond. If the bonding is automatic with a flow, the child is fostered in the home for three months, upon which evaluation is done through regular visits to see child’s progress in the new environment as well as the relationship with other family members.

Step 4: If successful, the final step is at the Children’s Court to finalize where the adoption parent(s) ability to support and educate the child are examined by the court and the social worker may give an opinion on the capability of the adoptive parent(s).

Sometimes not all adoptions or fostering goes right and this leads to a children being taken away from the homes probably back to the previous children shelter as investigation goes on. For example, an investigative story done and aired on a local media station, showed officers on video carrying away a child from the house without the knowledge of the adoptive parents and as per what one of the foster parent said that some of the officers had guns in their house.

I strongly condemn such kind of acts portrayed by the officers. Why? Because this is not how you want a child remembering his family especially if it is the only family the child has known his whole years. Such kind of actions have repercussions on the child’s psychology and perception about handling sensitive matters. The best thing they should have done and for future use as well, is to have a conversation with the child and explain the situation as it is, ensuring the child is aware that the events are not by any means his/her fault. By doing this, the innocent child’s interests are said to be considered.

I wrote this article because there are so many children in shelters who are in need of a home and a family that is loving, supportive, caring and means the world to them. I hope that one day in the future I can be able to foster children regardless of how tiresome the system may be.

As you read this, remember that in whatever matter it may be, and a child is involved, take a step back, think about the effects of the next actions are going to have on the minor and have a reasonable conversation with him/her. It will make things better. Trust me.

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