How To Adopt a Child In Kenya: Adopting a child in Kenya appears to be complex for many but is a fairly straight forward process. The constitution and the Children’s Act govern the process of adoption in Kenya. Here is an overview of the adoption process and the parties involved.
The Law on Child Adoption
According to the constitution, Article 53(2), in any case of adoption, the best interests of the child are a primary consideration. The Children’s Act, Section 4, also states that in any action regarding children, the child’s best interests shall be of paramount importance. Although the law on adoption values the child’s best interests highly, there seems to be no provision in the wording that allows the child’s interest to be measured against other issues that may be raised in court. Nevertheless, the court is required to apply its best judgment to determine the best interests of a child before issuing adoption orders. The High court has the jurisdiction to grant an adoption as per the Children’s Act, Section 154.
Requirements for Child Adoption in Kenya
The basic requirements for adopting a child include:
- Certificates of good conduct
- Chief’s letter
- The child’s birth certificate
- A report by the children officers
- Death certificate if the child is an orphan
- A school progress report for a child who is attending school
- Identification documents f the adoptive parents
- Proof of the adoptive parent’s financial status (pay slips and bank statements)
- Adoptive parent’s medical report
- Marriage certificate in cases involving couples
- Proof of the adoptive parent’s residence
- Birth certificates of the adoptive parent’s children
The consent of the child’s parents should be sought as well as the consent of a sibling who is above 18 years old. However, if the child’s parent has neglected, abandoned, or is found to be mistreating the child, their consent may be disregarded. If a child is in a children’s home or institution and their biological parents or guardian has not visited them for 6 months, the law considers this as abandonment.
Who Can or Can’t Adopt a Child
The person willing to adopt a child should be between 25-65 years. The applicant must be older than the child by at least 21 years. The child’s relative is also allowed to adopt a child including the father or mother of the child. According to the Children’s Act, Section 158(2), the following persons are not allowed to adopt a child unless under special circumstances:
- A sole male applicant in cases of a female child adoption or a sole female applicant in cases of a male child adoption
- Applicants who have attained 65 years
- A sole foreign male or female applicant
Additionally, the Children’s Act, Section 158(3) holds that a joint applicant or an applicant may lose the right to adopt a child if:
- They do not have sound mind
- Have a conviction of an offence against morality such as offences related to bodily injury
- If the joint applicants are not married
- If the applicant is gay
The first step in adopting a child, considering an applicant is eligible to adopt, is visiting an adoption agency. The agency will determine whether the child is free for adoption and whether the conditions of the child’s best interest are met. The agency will issue the applicant with a certificate and surrender the child to them for mandatory foster care. The placement lasts for three months during which the child officer will make a home evaluation to determine whether the applicant is financially and emotionally fit to raise the child. The report will be presented in court and will determine whether the applicant gets an adoption order or not.