1. Formal application and assessment: The prospective adoptive parent (or parents if it is a couple) makes a formal application by filling requisite forms with an adoption agency. The applicant is expected to divulge as much information about them as possible. The adoption agency will find out if one is financially capable of taking care of a child and if one is living an honest social life. It is also at this stage that one’s qualifications are reviewed.
2. A social worker is assigned: If one meets the minimum requirements to be an adoptive parent a social worker will be assigned to find out more about them. The social worker will be allowed access to the applicant’s home and the right to interview close friends and family. The social worker will also assess the suitability of the applicant’s home to hold a child. Later the social worker will prepare a report on their findings.
3. Counselling: A counsellor will be assigned to the applicant. The counsellor’s job is to expound on what adopting a child really means – for the applicant’s full understanding. The counsellor will also be able to assess the applicant’s state of mind; if they are psychologically prepared to adopt and parent a child. The counsellor will be required to prepare a report on his findings. [Click and drag to move]
4. Case committee: The two reports by the social worker and the counsellor will then be handed over to the case committee – which is appointed by the National Adoption Committee under the Ministry of Labour. The case committee’s job is to look at the two reports, vet the applicant, and arrive at a decision to allow the adoption process to proceed, reject it or defer the case.
5. Placement: If the case committee approves an applicant the adoption agency scouts for a child. The applicant is not allowed to choose the child (unless the child is a blood relative). First, the agency will do marching of the baby to the applicant (or the couple). “We try to march the applicants with a child that resembles them physically,” says Susan Otwoma. “But sometimes you can be paired with a child who does not look like you if that is the description you have given the agency.” Once a march has been established the applicant is allowed 10 days visitation to the child. And if they are pleased with the march they will sign a care agreement then be allowed to take the baby home.
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6. First three months: The applicant will be allowed to care for the child at their home but allow a social worker from the agency to visit as frequently as they would want to in the first three months. The social worker’s visits are meant to establish if the child is indeed in safe hands with their new parents.
7. Legal process starts: After three months the adoptive parent should file an application at the high court seeking to be legally allowed to adopt the child. One can use a lawyer (subject to legal fees) or represent themselves in court.
8. Court order: The court then issues an order to the department of children services to conduct investigations and prepare a report regarding the prospective adoptive parent within 45-60 days. The court also appoints a Guardian-ad-liten (friend of the child) who will be allowed frequent access to the adoptive parents’ home. A guardian-ad-liten can access the child on a daily basis to ascertain their progress. He/she will is required to prepare a report within 45-60 days.
9. Court receives reports: Three reports – by the department of children’s services, by guardian-ad-liten and by the case committee – will be handed to the court. The court’s registry then sets date for the main hearing.
10. Main hearing: The court will interview and examine the adoptive parent and all major parties involved in the process. After hearings, the judge will state the date when he will rule and give judgment.
11. Day of judgment: The judge will allow or reject the adoption. If allowed the court will issue the applicant with an adoption order which they will present at the Registrar’s office to apply for an adoption certificate
12. Birth certificate: The adoptive parent can then use the adoption certificate to get a birth certificate with their names as the child’s parents. The entire process; from application to receiving the birth certificate can last approximately 2.5 years depending on the adoptive parent’s commitment to the process.
Note: An adoption agency is paid Sh. 12,500 by the applicant. Sh. 5,000 goes to the Children’s Home where the baby was under custody and Sh. 7,500 used by social workers to do visitations and conduct investigations.