Suzy Adam (not real name) sadly got a divorce in her mid-thirties. This life-changing experience altered the course of her life.
It felt like the family she always wanted no longer seemed possible. Suzy yearned for a new life, she changed jobs and moved to a new location, unaware that that was the beginning of a new stage of her life.
At her new workplace she formed a close friendship with a colleague, who suggested adoption when she heard Suzy’s story and her strong desire for a family of her own.
Seeing Suzy hesitate, her friend quickly said: “ I was adopted. I don’t know my real parents. A couple, whom I now call mum and dad gave me a home and amazing love. I’ve always wondered what would have become of me if I had remained in the orphanage.
Suzy, you have the means, bless somebody’s life.”
Convinced that adoption was the solution for her, Suzy started the process to adopt a child.
In this country, the Central Adoption Authority at the Department of Social Welfare is mandated to provide for the conduct of all adoptions in the country.
The Authority, set up under the Children’s (Amendment) Act, 2016, (Act 937) has three major structures, which are the Adoption Board, Technical Committee and the Adoption Secretariat.
The Board recommends policies and programmes and the technical committee, made up of professionals, reviews and decides on adoption applications from home and abroad.
If approved, a clearance letter is issued to the applicant to proceed to court for a legal adoption order to process the adoption.
According to the Director of the Central Adoption Authority, Mr Stephen Tikai Dombo, adoption processes in Ghana follow international standards.
He said, “initially, adoptions were done at the regional level, but now it is only done at the high court.”
Applicants can obtain in-country and inter-country adoption forms from the Social Welfare offices in all the regions at a cost of GH¢7,000.
There are two types of adoption; relative adoption, where the applicant and child have filiation through blood, adoption or marriage, and non-relative adoption, where the applicant and child have no filiation.
Adoptions can also be done in-country or inter-country.
Mr Dombo stated that any Ghanaian can adopt, however, single males cannot adopt, except their own sons, as they may take advantage of the child.
For in-country adoption, the applicant must show evidence of marriage (certificate) and a birth certificate to determine the age.
Age of the applicant should be between 25 and 55 for non-relative and the applicant should be 21 years older than the adopted child.
For relative adoption, the age limit is 65 years.
Applicant should also submit a medical report to prove he is medically fit, a police clearance form to prove he has no criminal record and evidence of income, in the form of a bank statement or payslip to show he is capable of taking care of a child.
In addition, an applicant must provide two reference letters from anybody who knows her well, proof of nationality, two guardian ad-liten, showing relations and the family tree indicating where the applicant relates to.
Another requirement is photographs of applicant’s house and rooms, and a single applicant would also have to show spousal consent.
After submitting the filled application form with all the required documents, the regional Social Welfare officers will visit applicant’s house and prepare a report, which together with a report of the child desired, stating the age and sex, will be submitted to the Central Adoption Authority.
Mr Dombo said foreigners were allowed to adopt in Ghana.
“The process is quite the same, but the foreigners start the process from their country of residence,” he stated.
Age limit for inter-country adoption is 25 to 55 years for non-relative and 25 to 65 years for a relative.
The prospective adoption parent will first apply to any of the Hague accredited adoption agencies in their countries.
The agency will then request all the required documents and forward them to the Central Adoption Authority. The Agency will also conduct the home study of the applicant.
If the application is approved, the applicant would have to come to Ghana and bond with the child for a month, or where this is not possible, have a power of attorney to act on her behalf.
To ensure that any child adopted is being taken care of and not being used for other purposes than the reasons stated for the adoption, systems have been put in place to track the child, Mr Dombo explained.
He said: “Now any child that leaves Ghana is tracked to know where they are and how they are faring and the home agency is also required to monitor the child and send a report every three months.”
The Director of the Central Adoption Authority indicated that adoption is easier now than before, when the applicant has all the required information.
“What causes a delay is the child preference of the applicant. Sometimes their preferred choice is not readily available, so they wait. Many applicants prefer female to males and almost all applicants do not want children with disabilities.”
He said about 50 children are adopted a year (both inter-country and intra-country) and urged the public to patronise the service because “the orphanages are not the best place to raise children. Children are better raised in families.”
Source: Daily Graphic
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