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How do I adopt a little girl?

BY: Mirror Lawyer

Dear Mirror Lawyer, Last Christmas, I visited the Good Shepherd Orphanage in Nungua. I immediately took to liking an assertive eight-year-old girl, who spoke to me about going home with me to live with me and one day becoming a doctor. Before I left, we embraced tearfully as she insisted I visit her more often.

 I would like to know the laws relating to adoption in Ghana to enable me adopt this little angel.

Naa Akushika, Jamestown, Accra.

 

Dear Naa, The laws regulating the adoption of children in Ghana is the Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560) as amended by the Children’s (Amendment) Act, 2016 Act 937, the Adoption Rules, 2003 (CI 42) and the Adoption Regulations, 2018 (L.I. 2360).

The law provides for who can make an adoption in Ghana.

An application to adopt a child may be made through in-country or inter-country processes and may be made jointly by a husband and wife; by a mother or father of the child to be adopted either singularly or jointly with their spouses (new).

A single person may only make an application where that single person is a Ghanaian and it is in the best interest of the child that the single person makes the adoption. A foreigner, who is single, or in a same sex marriage or relationship is prohibited from adopting a child.

The process of adoption is preceded by several pre-adoption processes such as child study report, home study report, support services, matching and pre-adoption placement and technical committee report among others.

An application is made to the High Court, Circuit Court or the Family Tribunal within the place where the applicant resides or the place the child to be adopted resides at the time the application is made.

The person making the application, or where the application is made jointly between a married couple (then at least one of the couple), must be no less than 25 years of age and be 21 years or older than the child being adopted.

That means that, even if the person making the adoption is 25 years old, but is less than 21 years older than the child, the application may be refused. The only exception to the requirement of the set age of 25 years in making an application for adoption is where the applicant is a relative of the child and is 21 years or older.

The applicant should not be more than 55 years old at the time of the placement and if a relation of the child not more than 65 years. A man can only adopt in Ghana if the child to be adopted is his son, or the court is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist to warrant the grant of an adoption application.

An adoption order is usually made for resident citizens or a Ghanaian who resides abroad.

An adoption order may not be made if the applicant has not informed the Department of Social Welfare in the District of his intention to adopt the child at least three months before the date of the adoption order.

The child to be adopted may also be allowed to stay with the applicant for a continuous period of three months before the adoption is made while under the supervision of the court or/and a Social Welfare Officer to monitor the well-being of the child and also assess whether the subsequent adoption of the child will be in the best interest of the child involved.

The court may make an adoption order subject to the consent of the parent or guardians of the child in so far as that can be obtained.

 However, where the child has been neglected and consistently ill-treated by their parents, the requirement of consent may be discarded. The consent of the child to be adopted shall also be required if the child is 14 years or more, and can reasonably express an opinion.

A court may attach such conditions as it thinks fit to the adoption order and may require the applicant to enter into a bond to make certain that the provision is made for the child.

In conclusion, Naa, to easily adopt a child in Ghana, you have to be related to the child and where you are not related, the court may determine whether it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by a single person, in addition to the citizenship and age requirement set out in the above paragraphs.

Further, you will have to inform the Department of Social Welfare of your intention to adopt a child at least three months before the adoption order is made to allow the Social Welfare monitor the process and advise on whether the adoption should be granted or refused.

Note further that the Children’s Act seeks to protect the welfare of children and to prevent scrupulous persons from adopting children and harming rather than protecting and providing for their welfare, hence the numerous requirements.

The procedure in the application for adoption is provided in the Adoption Rules, 2003 (CI 42) which will guide your application after you meet the general provisions as enumerated above. I hope this answers your question and provides you the information you require to assess your eligibility to adopt a child in Ghana.