Adoption is the process by which a child’s biological parental rights are transferred to another adult or a couple who will assume all the responsibilities of raising the child. These persons may be family member or strangers, and in some situations, they may even reside outside of the child’s birth country. There are many cases of ‘unofficial adoptions’ in Jamaica, where parents leave their children with family or friends while they head to the cities or overseas to seek opportunity. However, here are some of the rules you need to know if you want to legally adopt a child:
- The Adoption Board is the only body that has responsibility for adoption of children in Jamaica. This service is undertaken for the Board by the CDA, which processes all applications.
- There are two types of adoption procedures allowed in Jamaica:
- Application for an Adoption Order – that is the completion of an adoption in Jamaica.
- Application for a Licence – approval is given for the child to be released to citizens of overseas countries to be adopted. Eligible countries are the Commonwealth states, the United States of America, Sweden and Denmark.
- In order to adopt, you must be at least 25 years old, unless you are related to the child being adopted, in which case you can be under 25 but must be over 18. Applicants are approved based on the age of the child being adopted, medical conditions of applicant(s) and family support available for the child. You can be single or married.
- To be adopted, a child must be over six weeks and under 18 years old. Applications must be received at least six months before a child attains their 18th birthday.
- Birth parents must agree to relinquishing their rights, unless:
- they are dead (evidence of their death must be provided)
- they cannot be found (evidence of attempts made to locate them must be provided)
- they are incapable of giving consent, eg. due to mental disability (evidence of such disability must be provided)
- they are withholding consent unreasonably
- the child is a ward of the State
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