Who may Adopt?
To adopt a child is to create a parent- child relationship with a child has no parent, to provide security, permanency and love for that child. When an individual legally adopts a child, such individual acquires full parental responsibility for that child as though they are the biological parent of that child.
Prior to 1965, there was no statutory provision for adoption in any part of Nigeria, however this lacuna has been corrected. Thus, the Child's Rights Act 2003 makes provision for adoption and this is reflected in the laws of states which have passed similar legislation. In section 128 of the Child's Rights Act, two types of persons may be adopted. The first is a person who is under the age of eighteen years whose parents or where there is no surviving parent, the guardian gas consented to the adoption. The other is a child under eighteen years who is abandoned, neglected or persistently abused or ill-treated, and there are compelling reasons in the interest of the child why he should be adopted.
There are a number of reasons why people resort to adoption, but the most common reason for resorting to adoption is childlessness. other reasons include a desire to acquire a companion for an only child, to replace a dead child, to stabilize a marriage, or to sustain a particular line of descent or to legitimize the status of a child born out of wedlock/ by teenage pregnancy, to rescue a child who is in an irreversible situation of abandonment, or to relieve parents who are unable to take care of their child. Many people adopt simply to give a home and family to children who might not otherwise have them.
In answering the question of "Who may adopt?", there are three categories of persons who may adopt a child. A married couple may jointly adopt with the authorisation of a court if one of them has attained the age of twenty-five years. Further, a married person may also adopt if he had attained the age of thirty- five years, provided that the child to be adopted is of the same sex as the adopter.
The provisions of the Child Rights Act 2003 which is the principal legislation regulating adoption in Nigeria, sets out the required qualifications a person must fulfil to be eligible to adopt a child. Order 26(1)(h) states that the applicant must not be less than 25 years of age and is at least 21 years older than the child. Where the applicant is unmarried, evidence must be shown that he or she has attained the age of 35 years and the child to be adopted is the same sex with him or her (see Order 26(1)(j) of the Act). The Act went further to provide that the applicant should be a person of unquestionable integrity(see Order 26 (1) (g)). In addition to these and most importantly, the applicant must have the necessary financial clout and means to take adequate care of the child.
What this simply means is that any person who is an adult can bring an application for adoption, provided he satisfies the above mentioned criteria. However, in practice the court will hardly grant an application for adoption made by a single person.
There are also several requirements that ought to be met before a child can be adopted. The Residence of the individual is an important factor in the adoption of a child. There is no specific minimum residence requirement to be eligible to adopt in Nigeria, however, prospective adoptive parents may be required to stay in Nigeria for a minimum of a few months to two years to bond with the child before petitioning a court to adopt. Each state determines the length of time for the required bonding period.
The Age also plays an essential factor in the adoption of a child. In Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age and 21 years older than the child. For married couples, at least one parent must meet the age requirements.
The joy of having children is equivalent to the joy of living itself however where individuals are unable to produce children, there is the option of adoption. However in order to legally adopt a child, the above requirements must be met.
WRITTEN BY: CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM
TEL: 08065553671, 08024230080