Government to make adoption easier
The Government is taking steps to amend the Children (Adoption of) Act with a view to making the adoption process in Jamaica less tedious and more aligned to international standards.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green said the legislation, which was passed in 1958, is outdated.
"A number of things have changed in relation to the rights of the child ... and as such, one of the things we had to look at is to ensure that the adoption accords with the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Child Care and Protection Act," Green said.
"So the technical team has done that and has suggested some changes. We also have to look at ... how we can ensure that our adoption process is facilitatory while still protecting our children," he added.
The legislation is currently before the Attorney General's Department.
Among the issues being looked at are the right of a parent to place a child up for adoption and the circumstances that would be considered; what constitutes relinquishing the right to parent; and what qualifies a country to be on the schedule of nations whose citizens are allowed to adopt Jamaican children.
"So a lot of what we had to look at is behind-the-scenes technical work in terms of our bureaucratic processes, was also looked at the legislation to help fast-track matters in relation to things like parental rights and what happens when a child is left at the hospital - things of that nature," Green noted.
"[We also] need to look at having sufficient protection in terms of checks for persons who are [interested in adopting]. So it has been a more holistic look at adoption in the first instance and making sure it accords with our initiatives and the Child Care and Protection Act while ensuring that we place children into families that are fit and proper," he added.
The state minister said that the Government was committed to making the adoption process easier and more efficient in order to permanently place children with families.
Studies all across the globe show that children perform better in a family setting as a nurturing environment is provided for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional growth and development.
Up to March of this year, a 217 children were permanently placed with families - 171 locally and 46 overseas. This is a 26 per cent increase over the previous period.
Meanwhile, the Government has already put measures in place to shorten the adoption process by eliminating the two-tiered application system.
Previously, interested parties had to complete a pre-adoption form, which would see applicants being screened before the actual application process could begin.
"This two-tiered system was problematic and time-consuming and has been abolished. This has allowed us to shorten the process," Green pointed out.