In 2016, Uganda passed the Children (Amendment) Act, to enhance the protection of children, to strengthen the provision for guardianship of children, strengthen conditions for inter-country adoption and to prohibit corporal punishment.
Inter-country adoption is now considered as the last option available to orphaned, abandoned, and legally relinquished children. The period for fostering the child has also been reduced from 36 months to 12 months, which has its complications in cases where the potential adoptive parent is a non-resident in Uganda. We have found that conducting enhanced due diligence beyond what is provided for in the law is important before one embarks on adoption of a child in Uganda, and below are some of the additional checks.
A. The Foster Home
i. You should find out more information in respect to the legal status of the foster home. Is it actually a registered legal entity? Where is it domiciled? Does it have an actual address? Do you know who the members are? Do you know where these members are? For how long they have been in the market and are they filing Annual Reports with the Authorities.
ii. Do you know who the Directors are? Do you have all their contacts? For how long have they been with this institution? Have you read their Annual Reports? What sort of programs do they run? How are they performing financially? Have they been filing Reports with the Ministry of Labour Gender and Social Development? Have they received any Inspections done?
It is absolutely necessary to obtain an LC Letter as proof of residence in Uganda. They should engage in routine activities and obtain pictorial evidence to that effect.
Having this knowledge would help to understand whether the Organization that you are dealing with is solid and reputable.
Secondly, this would be helpful in the event that you need to further proceed against this entity for failure to follow procedure or in the case any misrepresentations were made without your knowledge.
B. The Family of the Orphaned Child
Given that we have extended families in Africa, it is important to conduct a thorough due diligence to understand the family of the child placed in the foster home.
Beyond the report that one is given at the foster home, it is important to track the family of the child. If there is a biological parent, this should be confirmed.
A visit to the place of birth and an engagement with the local authorities may be necessary to understand any family dynamics that may later on become a risk on the adoption.
It may be necessary to confirm deaths as may have been alleged by viewing the original death certificates of one or all the parents. A visit to the National Information and Registration Authority may be necessary in this case.
C. Consent of the Biological Parents
In cases where there is a surviving parent, it is necessary to confirm the consent being issued and whether it has not been obtained through coercion, or in cases where the parent is illiterate, it should meet the requirements of the law.
An independent visit is necessary with this parent in the presence of an independent translator to communicate and ensure that the parent understands the implications of the adoption of their child. Taking of pictures as evidential proof is also necessary, although this must also be done with the consent of all the parties.
D. Abandoned Children
A visit of the Police station and review of the Police file prior to engaging on the adoption process of an abandoned child may be necessary to understand the facts. The facts on the file may also have to be further verified independently by personally engaging any individuals that may have been referred to in the file.
They should ensure that an advertisement of the child is placed in a newspaper of wide circulation to confirm that additional effort was made to look for the family of the child as the law provides that adoption of abandoned children is a last resort.
An independent visit to the place where the child was left abandoned, would be necessary. It is necessary to engage with the local officials and random villagers on this matter as this could reveal further necessary information that may inform the due diligence process.
Due diligence protects not only you but also the little life looking to be placed with a loving and caring family. It can save you both a world of hurt.
E. The Probation and Social Welfare Officer
It is important to understand whether the person presented as the Probation and Social welfare Officer holds a letter of employment from the respective authorized entity to engage on this matter.
It may be necessary for one to ensure that they sign a Disclosure of Conflict-of-Interest form to ensure that you are guaranteed that there are no self-vested interests at play, but also in the unlikely event that this matter is taken to court later by the family, you are able to confirm that you undertook the necessary confirmations.
It may be necessary for the intending adoptive parent to independently conduct a visit to the home of the potential adopted child as opposed to placing reliance on the Report issued by the Probation and Social Welfare Officer.
BNM Advocates provides legal representation and advisory services to corporate and individual clients in Uganda and beyond.
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