This week my beloved blog ‘Wacha niKwambie’ focused on a topic dubbed Baby!Baby!Baby! – Focus on adoption, guardianship and foster care laws in Kenya facilitated by advocate Leah Kiguatha Muteru. In her own words:
“Adoption is the complete transfer of parental rights from the child’s biological parents to you as the adopter. It is irrevocable and neither you nor the child can legal disengage after the adoption. The child gets the full rights of your biological child including the right to inherit from you. I don’t know about other cultures but as Kenyans, we are discouraged by the formalities of adoption and we bring in our nieces and nephews and take care of them without a formal adoption. Then when you get your posh New York job, you leave the poor child behind because they can’t get a visa since they are not adopted. Also,when you pass on without a will, the child does not have equal rights with your biological child, they rank 4th in line and must prove they were dependent on you. I have both heartwarming and heartbreaking stories on this account but my clients may be people you know so I wont go into details. But I have seen vast estates saved from greedy relatives by that formal adoption certificate and I have also encountered heartbreaking stories of kids being disowned, who only realize that they were not biological kids of a family after the mum or dad dies and they are unceremoniously left out of the inheritance.
To adopt, you must be aged 25-65 years and be at least twenty one years older than the child. A single woman can adopt a girl and a single man can adopt a boy. In my entire career, I have only done two single dad adoptions. On the other hand it is raining single mum adopters and about 70% of my clients have been single mums. Upon proof of special circumstances, it is possible for a single mum to adopt a boy and for a single dad to adopt a girl. Some special circumstances include the fact that you are successfully parenting another child either biological or successfully adopted. There are other special circumstances as well.
The child to be adopted must be a child that has been declared free for adoption by a registered adoption society and the proposed adopter must also have been assessed and approved as fit to adopt by a registered adoption society. Therefore, if you want to adopt, the first step is not to visit a children’s home where you may fall in love with a child who may not be free for adoption. The first step is to visit an adoption society so that you can get assessed for fitness to adopt after which you will be matched with a child who is free for adoption. Many feel that this is the adoption society playing God but it is the international standard not to choose a child but to be matched although some agencies are more flexible than others in terms of the degree of choice involved.”