Many people assume the adoption process is expensive, lengthy and cumbersome. That was true in the past, but now things have changed and it is simple, straightforward and affordable, writes NJOKI CHEGE
There are several reasons why people adopt but for whatever reason you choose to do it, it important that you realise adoption must be done the legal way, in order for both the child and parent(s) to enjoy their full rights.
But what exactly is adoption? The laws of Kenya describe adoption as the permanent assumption of the parental rights and responsibilities in a legal manner of a child that is not naturally yours.
Gaciku Kangari, the executive director of the Kenyans to Kenyans Peace Initiative Adoption Society (KKPI) — a registered adoption society, says the process of adoption in not only simple and straightforward, but affordable as well.
“If you want to adopt, the first step is to approach a registered adoption society that will help you through the legal and social process. An adoption society sees your adoption right through to the end,” she notes.
Parents then make an inquiry and are taken through a simple interview. Here, they are introduced to the laws that govern adoption.
Gaciku explains: “A sole applicant or a couple where each is at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child are allowed to adopt. A relative of the child may also adopt. By the way, a single female is only allowed to adopt a girl, unless in special circumstances where the boy is over five years old.”
Like any other legal process, legal documents such as your national identity card, a certificate of good conduct and a reference letter from your religious leader is required.
And what about the cost implications?
It costs about Sh8,000 to Sh12,000 depending on the adoption society you choose.
After a home assessment scheduled with a social worker, your request goes before a case committee that scrutinises your application — most of which go through hassle-free.
The next step requires you to describe the child of your preference, but you have to bear in mind that the adoption agency will place you with a child that resembles you!
Offers Gaciku: “Adopting has been made easy as Kenya subscribes to The Hague Convention on Adoption of Children, an international instrument of the United Nations to regulate and guide child adoptions worldwide.”
Once they identify a child for you, then it’s a smooth ride. The first two weeks are used for bonding, which is followed by a letter of release and placement thereafter.
“After a month or so, you go home with your child, but you will be under a three-month placement period in which we will observe you and the child,” says Gaciku.
Unlike common belief that you require a lawyer before you start the process of adoption, you actually require one as soon as you get your child.
“The lawyer comes in much later to help you file a case in court and get a hearing date on which a judge will either give you an adoption order or rejection. Only a high court judge, not even a magistrate, can issue an adoption order,” says Gaciku.
While you are at it, it is important that you get an adoption lawyer, as there are some lawyers who are not familiar with the Children’s Act.
You don’t have to have a lawyer, as these days courts are friendlier and encourage self-representation.
The whole process, in totality, takes about six months, but it could take longer if you choose to drag the whole process. It is entirely up to you to fast-track the process.
Beside the financial scare that posed a threat to adoption until Eve Woman established otherwise, the biggest challenge to adoption remains the ignorance and lack of understanding surrounding the process.
“Kenyans are yet to warm up to the idea of adopting and accepting adopted children. A lot of awareness creation is needed surrounding the adopted child and their rights,” says Gaciku.
The adoption process is also riddled with cultural taboos that forbid adoption, and surprisingly, in the Kenyan adoption scene, as Gaciku notes, there is a preference for girls as opposed to boys.