Adoption, foster care, guardianship in Kenya
Adoption in Kenya: Adoption is the complete severance of the legal relationship between a child and their biological parent and the establishment of a new legal relationship between the child and his adoptive parents.
Under the foster care programme, a child is placed in the temporary care of a family other than its own as a result of challenges that prevent them from living with their family of birth.
Adoption process in Kenya
Before any adoption takes place in Kenya, permission should be sought from parents, guardians or any other person who has parental responsibility over a child. Foreigners need consent of their courts. Even so, consent for parents or guardians can be dispensed in case the child has been abandoned or neglected, the guardians cannot be found or they are unnecessarily with holding consent, or spouses who are divorced and are living apart and such separation is likely to be permanent.
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For a child to be adopted, they have to be at least six weeks old and be declared free for adoption by a registered adoption society in Kenya. Currently, there are five registered societies, namely the Little Angels Network, Kenya Children’s Home, Child Welfare Society of Kenya, Kenya to Kenya Peace Initiative and Little Gems.
The adoption societies assess the prospective parents to establish their fitness to adopt the child. The law allows sole or joint applicants each or one of the spouses is at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child they want to adopt. A relative or stepparent of the child may also adopt. Some people are only allowed to adopt if the court is satisfied that there are special circumstances. These are a sole male applicant in respect of a female child, a sole female applicant in respect to a male child and an application or joint applicants who have both attained 65 years.
A person who is not of sound mind, who has been charged or convicted of a child offence, homosexual, joint applicants not married to each other and a sole foreign female applicant are not allowed to adopt.
If the adoption agency is satisfied after the assessment, the child is placed with the applicants. There is a mandatory three-month bonding period where the applicants stay with the child prior to filling the matter before court. The court, as a final step of the process, gives an adoption order. It transfers all rights, duties and responsibilities over a child to the adopter as if the adopted child was born to that person. It extinguishes rights, duties, responsibilities that a parent, guardian or anyone who had responsibility over that child before the order was made. The registrar general then issues the adopter an adoption certificate and maintains the adopted child’s register.