With infertility struggles becoming more and more prevalent in this modern era, adoption is fast becoming a viable option for couples who have always wanted to have children but couldn’t do it the natural way, due to a myriad of different fertility issues. Although the concept of adoption has been around for a quite a while now, it is treated with a lot of shame and disdain, especially in the African context, with the process commonly termed as ‘buying children’ by ignorant and unknowing members of the society. Adoption is also looked at with such shame and hostility because it is commonly interpreted as a stamp of infertility of the adoption couple, with the couple, especially the woman, receiving a lot of stigma and criticism, even though the fault may not be her own but that of the man, for their alleged infertility problems. Fertility, is, perhaps crudely and backwardly, held in regard in the African society, and if a couple cannot get children the natural way, society tends to shun, stigmatize and disapprove of that union, with the woman bearing most of the brunt in the stigmatization. As such, many couples refrain from engaging in the process of adoption due to this societal stigmatization and often opt for expensive fertility treatments just so they can have children the natural way.
Another reason why adoption isn’t quite popular in the African, or more specifically, Kenyan context, is due to its perceived ‘complicatedness’ and the technicality that’s associated with the whole process. Although this is a bit true, the justification behind it is well in. Due to its sensitive nature, with a child’s life and best interests at stake, the laws and policies in place have to be stringent, to curb cases of child trafficking, child abuse and child neglect, that have been reported before as a result of people taking advantage of the adoption process.
Despite all the issues surrounding the concept of adoption and the adoption process, it is still a very sure and reliable way of starting a family. Some of the obvious benefits of adoption include a chance to foster children and start a family for couples that have struggled with infertility issues, a chance at parenthood for single persons and same-sex couples, although homosexuality is illegal in Kenya and same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt children.
It also provides stable, loving homes to children, who would have otherwise not had a chance to such, with their only resort having to live and getting brought up in children’s home and shelters.
Some of the requirements of adoption and important facts you need to know about the adoption process in Kenya
First off, the adoptive parents need not be married, but if they are, their marriage needs to have been longer than three years. For single persons, the adoptive parent must be between the age of 25 and 65 years, and the age gap between the adoptive parent(s) and child must be more than 21 years. It is also worth noting that for single prospective adoptive parents, one can only adopt children of the same sex, that is, single men can only adopt male children, and single women can only adopt girls, although they are exceptions that could allow a woman to adopt a male child. A relative of the child can also adopt the child, if he/she has been taking care of the child or if he/she wants to start giving care to the child. This is called Kinship adoption.
After the prospective adoptive persons or couple have fulfilled all these requirements, they start the adoption process through an accredited adoption agency, where an orientation meeting will be set, where the couple or persons can ask all questions and have the adoption process explained to them, and also, fill all the necessary adoption forms.
Next, comes the home visit, where the society looks into the whereabouts and living situation of the adopter(s) to determine whether the needs of the child will be met. After that comes the matching and placement stage, where the adoptive parent(s) through the social worker, get to meet the child and the bonding process begins. If bonding is deemed successful by the social worker, the child is released to the care of the adopter(s) for a period of three months, called the fostering period. During this period, the social worker is expected to make regular house visits to check up on the child’s well-being, the relationship between the adoptive parent(s) and the child, and how well the child is adjusting to the new environment. After the fostering period next comes the court phase, where the Children’s Court will examine the ability of the adoptive parent(s) to meet the needs of the child, as well as give care and provide a decent home for the child. Upon this determination, if positive, the child will be released to the adoptive parent(s) who will then assume all parental responsibility for the child.
Therefore, owing to the nobility of the cause, more and more awareness should be raised on the concept of adoption, the adoption process, and the benefits that come with it, in order to help more individuals and couples, especially those struggling with fertility issues, have a chance at starting and fostering families.