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How to Adopt a Child in Kenya

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Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting of another, usually a child, from that person’s biological or legal parent or parents. How to Adopt a Child in Kenya. Legal adoptions permanently transfer all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parents to the adoptive parents.

Unlike guardianship or other systems designed for the care of the young, adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status and as such requires societal recognition, either through legal or religious sanction. Historically, some societies have enacted specific laws governing adoption, while others used less formal means (notably contracts that specified inheritance rights and parental responsibilities without an accompanying transfer of filiation). Modern systems of adoption, arising in the 20th century, tend to be governed by comprehensive statutes and regulations.

For a Kenyan/s to be are allowed to adopt their first child, one has to meet the following prerequisites conditions.

  1. Must be aged between 25 and 65,
  2. Must be 21 years older than the child they wish to adopt,
  3. Is a mother or father of child,
  4. In case of a joint application the couple must have been married to one another for at least three years,
  5. Single applicants (male or female) cannot adopt children of the opposite sex unless under special circumstances,
  6. A sole foreign female applicant can only adopt under special circumstances.
  7. A relative to the child if the relative has been taking care of the child. This is known as kinship adoption.
  8. The adoptive parent and the child must be resident in Kenya for six months at the time of the proposed adoption

For a child to be adopted in Kenya, the child has to meet the following eligibility criteria.

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  1. In Kenya, a child cannot be adopted unless the child is at least six (6) weeks old and has been declared free for adoption by a registered adoption society.
  2. The child must be below the age of 18 years and residing in Kenya
  3. Any child who is resident within Kenya may be adopted whether or not the child is a Kenyan citizen, or was or was not born in Kenya.
  4. The child is abandoned and the whereabouts of the parents/guardians are unknown.
  5. The child is an orphan and there is no guardian/caregiver who is willing to take care of the child.
  6. The parents/guardians of the child have given consent for the child to be adopted (parent offer adoptions).
  • The procedures for child adoption in Kenya are conducted by the adoption society.

Main Steps in Adoption

  1. Assessment of prospective adoptive parents by an adoption society.
  2. Declaration of a child proposed as free for adoption by an adoption society
  3. Placement of child with applicants
  4. Three months mandatory bonding filing period within the Republic of Kenya prior to matter before court.
  • The law prohibits the advertisement of a child for adoption.

The following persons are not allowed to adopt in Kenya

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  1. Is not of sound mind within the meaning of the Mental Health Act (Cap. 248).
  2. Has been charged and convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for any of the offences set out in the Third Schedule to the Act or similar offences. The prescribed offences generally include defilement, sexual offences, immoral behavior, and attempt to procure abortion, unnatural offences; and assault.
  3. Is a homosexual; accordingly, homosexuality is illegal in Kenya hence the prohibition of gay persons from adopting children.
  4. In the case of joint applicants, if they are not married to each other.
  5. Is a sole foreign male applicant.

Guardian Ad Litem

  • These are guardians appointed by the court for the child pending the hearing and determination of the adoption application. Some of the duties of guardian include:
  1. Safeguard the interests of the child pending the determination of the adoption proceedings.
  2. Investigate and appraise the court as to the circumstances pertinent to the adoption of the child in the prescribed manner.
  3. Make recommendations as to the priority of making any interim orders or an adoption order in respect of the child.
  4. Intervene on behalf of the child and arrange for the care of the child in the event of the withdrawal of any consent.
  5. Undertake such duties as the court may direct.

Consents needed for adoption in Kenya to be finalized include

  1. From the existing parents, guardians or anyone else contributing to the maintenance of the child under any agreement or order.
  2. Parents or guardian(s) of the mother of the child in case she (mother) is a minor.
  3. Step-father who has acquired parental responsibility.
  4. On the application of one of the spouses with the consent of the other spouse.
  5. In case of foreigners not residing in Kenya, the consent of a competent jurisdiction or a government authority situated in the country where both or one of the spouses ordinarily resides, permitting the spouses to adopt a foreign child.
  6. In case of a child who has attained the age of 14 years with the consent of the child.

Instances where consent for adoption can be withheld include

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  1. First is when the parents or guardians are untraceable because the child was abandoned.
  2. It is also possible to withhold consent if spouses are permanently separated.

Required Documents

  1. 2 full sized recent photos of the applicant(s)
  2. Copy of ID (Kenyan citizens)
  3. Marriage certificate (where necessary)
  4. Medical Report of the adoptive parent
  5. Proof of financial status-Pay slip, Bank Statement etc.
  6. The child’s birth certificate
  7. If the child is a school going child, a copy of the school progress report
  8. A children officers report
  9. Death certificate if the child’s parents are deceased
  10. Chief’s letter
  11. Proof of home ownership
  12. Birth certificates of any children the adoptive parent may have
  13. Certificates of good conduct.

Here is How to Adopt a Child in Kenya

  • One can only adopt through a registered and accredited adoption society. The stages of adoption are:

Stage 1: Orientation meeting

  • One visits the adoption society and makes enquiries. On this initial visit the following will be discussed:
  1. Pre-requisites for adoption
  2. Procedures
  3. Recommended advocates
  4. Home visits/ social worker’s visits
  5. Guardian to be appointed
  6. References required
  7. Application forms
  8. Costs involved
  • The adopting parent(s) will then be given the application forms to fill and submit together with the required documents if they meet the requirements given by the law, e.g. age limit, The following should be attached:-
  1. 2 full sized recent photos of the applicant(s)
  2. Copy of ID (Kenyan citizens)
  3. Marriage certificate (where necessary)
  4. Medical Report
  5. Proof of financial status-Pay slip, Bank Statement etc.
  • Your application is only considered formal when you hand in your duly completed application forms

Stage 2: Home visit to determine eligibility

  • The adoption society will then look into the whereabouts/ eligibility of the adopter(s) to determine whether the needs of the child will be met.
  • The main aim of the visit is to:
  1. Know the applicants physical location ( where the child will be living)
  2. To assess the suitability of the applicant(s) to adopt/ foster a child – living conditions are also assessed.
  3. To have an in depth interview with the applicant(s) in the privacy of their home

NOTE: In case of a joint application, both applicants MUST be present during the home visit.

Stage 3: Medical Check-up

  • This MUST be done by a doctor recommended by the Society
  • Note that the adoption regulations require that a HIV test is carried out as part of the medical examination.

Stage 4: Matching and placement

  • A social worker consults with the adopting parent(s) and arrangement to meet the child is made (Introduction and bonding period).
  • If bonding is deemed successful, the child is released to the care of the adopter(s).

Stage 5: Fostering period

  • The adopting parent(s) stay with the child for a period of three months.
  • The social worker will regularly drop by to check on the relationship between the parent(s) and the child.
  • The social worker also will also look at how well the child is adjusting to the new environment.

Stage6: Court phase

  • The Children’s Court will then finalize on all the adoption matters.
  • The ability to support and educate the child are examined by the court which may or may not allow the adoption.
  • The social worker may give an opinion on the capability of the adoptive parent(s).

Office Locations & Contacts

Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health Services (DOSHS) – Head Office,
Safety House
Commercial street, Industrial area
P.O Box 34120 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: 020 266 772 2, 0775 833 675, 0775 833 676
Email: doshdept@labour.go.ke
Website: Directorate of Occupational Safety & Health Services (DOSHS) Website

Ministry of Labour – Head Office,
Bishops Road, Social Security House
P.O. Box 40326 – 00100, Nairobi
Telephone: +254 (0) 2729800
Fax: +254 020 2726497
Email: ps@socialprotection.go.ke / info@socialprotection.go.ke
Website: Ministry of Labour and Social Protection Website

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