TOP
  • Home
  • Features
  • New law introduces tougher rules for child adoption

New law introduces tougher rules for child adoption

By Gloria Nakajubi

Added 3rd June 2016 08:59 PM

According to a 2014 study on legal guardianship and adoption practices in Uganda by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, Uganda was among the top 20 countries of origin for inter-country adoptions to the USA.

Nvpc 703x422

According to a 2014 study on legal guardianship and adoption practices in Uganda by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, Uganda was among the top 20 countries of origin for inter-country adoptions to the USA.

The recently passed Children Act will among other stringent measures restrict inter-country adoptions that have since seen Uganda as one of the major sources for countries such as the USA.

According to a 2014 study on legal guardianship and adoption practices in Uganda by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, Uganda was among the top 20 countries of origin for inter-country adoptions to the USA.

“A report by the USA Department of State indicates that between April 1, 2008 and September 30, 2008, 30 children from Uganda received immigrant visas to the USA. This figure skyrocketed in 2012 when 238 Ugandan children received immigrant visas,” reads the report.

Clause 11 of the Act that was assented to by the President on the 20th of May, introduces ‘legal Customary Guardianship’ where by under the new law, guardianship is only possible if there are no relatives willing to look after the child or if alternative care options have been exhausted. But most importantly, this is restricted to only Ugandans.

Non Ugandans according to the law can only adopt and this requires the child to be in foster care for atleast 12 months. And the adoptive parents must provide monthly reports for the period of fostering.

Under the previous Act, according to Martin Kiiza, the Secretary General of the National Council for Children, most foreigners were taking advantage of the loopholes in the law and applying for legal guardianship. This was usually a much faster process.

Legal Guardianship Order transfers parental rights of a child from one adult to another. This was designed to cater for circumstances such as if a child's parents can no longer provide for the child or if the child is at risk of abuse. It is an instrument of law to protect a child at risk but not designed to facilitate international adoption.

One of the common justifications as revealed in the study, for the resort to legal guardianship for purposes of inter-country adoption is the fact that this process is expeditious.

Clearly according to Kiiza, there hasn’t been clear policies restricting adoption and with just a court order secured in a few hours, one would be able to take a Ugandan child out of the country never to be traced.

According to the study, whereas the law on adoption is clear, the Children Act in its previous form did not provide any legal regime or rules of procedure for legal guardianship, in particular legal guardianship for purposes of inter-country adoption.

The courts as stated in the study therefore rely on Article 139 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda which confers to the High Court unlimited original jurisdiction in all matters including in adoption and legal guardianship.

“We need to emphasise family care for children and especially blood relations but in cases where this is impossible, the local community should be able to take up these children. Institutions such as orphans should be temporal areas of surveillance,” sad Kiiza.

As stressed in the Law, inter-country adoption will be a matter of last resort after other alternative care options have been exhausted.

In a press statement released by UNICEF yesterday, the country representative, Aida Girma referred to the legislation as a major milestone for the children of Uganda as it comes to safeguard their fundamental rights. 

"We now look forward to supporting the implementation of the Act across different sectors; popularising the new Act through the production and dissemination of child friendly materials in both English and local languages; and advocating for the scale-up of national programmes related to the Act at both national and sub-national levels," said Girma. 

The new law stipulates the creation of an Adoption agency that will be charged with handling all adoption cases.

 

 

Related Articles

More From The Author

Related articles