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Review of Adoption Act long overdue - children's advocate

Published:Friday | April 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Diahann Gordon-Harrison

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

DIAHANN GORDON-HARRISON, the children's advocate, has agreed that a review of the Adoption Act is long overdue, noting that no change has been made since its implementation in 1958.

Gordon-Harrison was speaking at the first two of the Child Development Agency and the Technical Advisory Committee's national consultations on the proposed amendments to the Adoption (Children Of) Act, 1958. The event was held on Wednesday at the New Kingston Business Centre.

"The act has been around for a very long time, a lot has happened globally since then. The review should enhance predictability and the consistency of outcome, which is always a good thing," she said.

Gordon Harrison highlighted two areas that were of key interest to her in the review.

"First is the structured right of a child who is of the particular age and maturity to be consulted in the adoption process. I think that this practice has in fact been adhered to for the most part, but the time has come for legislation to address it in a certain manner," Gordon-Harrison said.

"Second is the right of particular types of information to be provided to a child who is adopted upon attaining the age of 18 years, if that is in fact the child's desire," she continued.

Gordon Harrison listed genetic diseases as an example of information to which the child is entitled.

"You need to be in a position to make an informed decision that could affect the child's health and advances in life. For example, something very simple as the sickle cell trait, if two persons have it and decide to marry or have children, then it could cause a very serious issue in the product of that union," Gordon-Harrison stated.

"The right to information in a structured way as the review proposes to do is in fact a very critical factor and is reflective of how this review seeks to keep up pace with developments in time locally and internationally," she continued.

The children's advocate said if the targets of this review are achieved, then it would lead to transparency and an adoption process which would be reflective of less confusion and greater understanding among all.