Adoption of Jamaican children being simplified
The Government said it has simplified the adoption process by making it less time-consuming. So far this year, some 160 children being placed with new parents and there are 264 potential parents in waiting.
Though not providing comparative figures, Floyd Green, state minister in the youth ministry, who made the announcement on Wednesday, attributed the improvement to the abolition of a "problematic" two-tiered adoption system.
Ahead of a review in 2013, Child Protection Specialist at the United Nations Children's Fund, Janet Cupidon Quallo, told The Gleaner that the local adoption process was "tedious and off-putting".
Under Jamaican law, any person between the ages of six weeks and 18 years old is eligible for adoption. Any person 25 years and older can adopt a child or children, but first would have to go through a screening process and, if successful, they face another round of assessment, where the application is considered by the Child Development Agency.
FOUND HOME AND HEART
"This (removal of the two-tiered system)," Green told lawmakers in his Sectoral Debate presentation, "has allowed us to shorten the process ... . Up to March this year, we have found a home and heart for 160 of our children. 118 children have been placed in homes in our locale, while 52 children have been placed in loving homes abroad."
He added that the authorities have also "significantly" cut the time in which a child can be adopted by a member of their family, noting that most cases are being resolved within six months.
Regarding the backlog, the state minister said the Government is considering changes to the 1958 Children (Adoption of) Act to allow courts to make a child available for placement if it has been determined that parents "clearly abandoned" their rights.
He did not say when the proposed changes would go before Parliament. Talks of amendment have picked up over the years, with the authorities last giving promises in April 2014.