Here’s a true life story of an American couple who went through an agency to adopt a five year old girl. The Davis family with four children, have lots of more love to give and thought it best to care for an orphaned girl. Namata officially became part of their family and undertook English lessons. In course of bonding, she related how her mother back in Uganda walked her to school each day. Her mother was very well alive. In the course of investigations Namata’s mother revealed that she never intended for Namata to permanently become part of another family but to travel abroad to stay with a family who could give her better education for a few years. With deep shock and faced with a horrific truth; though having official legal adoption papers, the Davis couple returned her back to Uganda to reunite with her family. There is only one person to be blamed in all this. The unscrupulous adoption agency.
I have continuously seen topics surrounding adoption pop up here and there, from celebrities thinking of adopting, to the raving movie Bird box and soap operas. Either stemming from their desire to nurture a child, to giving up their baby out for adoption to get better care or being childfree. And I thought why not write about it? Especially for those who have no idea on where to start from, to prevent a similar experience of the Davis family from happening and to encourage others who are interested in adopting.
While others may put more emphasis on assisting families rather than adopting. Whichever way, adopting is a commitment that comes with a lot of advantages for everyone involved.
The first thing to note is that the only recognised way to adopting is going through the court system.
The adoption procedures in Nigeria differs from state to state. I’ll do a quick recap.
1. First thing is to get a form from the court, fill it and submit to the Registrars of the court. You’ll attach the following to your form;
a. Your marriage certificate or sworn declaration of marriage
b. Your birth certificate or a sworn declaration of age
c. Two passport photograph
d. Medical certificate of fitness from a government hospital
e. Any other documents, requirements and information as the court may require from you for the purpose of adopting.
2. The court will then appoint a social welfare officer to investigate on whether you are suitable to adopt a child or not.
To make things speedy, it is important that you inform the Chief welfare officer of your intention to adopt at least three months before you approach the court. This will enable the welfare officer get the report on time on how you cared for the child while he/she was in your temporary custody.
3. A guardian will always be there to represent the child throughout the process.
4. Where there is a positive recommendation from the welfare officer that you cared for or treated the child under your temporary foster care, a report will be forwarded to the court.
5. The court may grant your order and you’ll be given a proof of adoption.
Easy as it looks, right? Meeting all the minimum requirements is however not a guarantee for an adoption order because you’ll be facing complex Nigerian adoption laws.
Though this shouldn’t discourage you, as having all your facts together and a good amount of luck on your side, you stand a strong chance.
Here are other things you should note;
• The court can revoke an adoption order and can cancel the adoption process entirely.
• There are lots of agencies out there claiming that they can help with your adoption process. The only recognised body in Nigeria that can deal in adoption is the recognised State Welfare Officer (the state ministry of women’s or family affairs).
• As a prospective adoptive parents you should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children in homes are eligible for adoption. If a biological relative, makes a decision that they no longer wish to continue an adoption plan for their child, this will take precedence over the adoption process.
• You must be resident in Nigeria for a certain period or seek legal representation if you intend to apply for adoption. A married and Single adult can adopt a child.
• Individuals who are not Nigerian citizens, until recently are now legally allowed to adopt in Nigeria.