To many people, child adoption in Kenya is for couples who have confirmed that they can’t have children.There is also a lot of stigma attached to adoption and many people would rather give it a wide berth altogether.
In other quarters, people fear that a child may want to go and live with its biological parents after learning that they were adopted.There are also those that hold that a child may come in with some unfavorable genetic traits and spoil the party for everyone.
Young Grace Waunda, who has never been married, doesn’t have any confirmed infertility problem is changing all these notions and here is her story,
Afromum: Tell us about yourself
Grace: Am the fourth born in a family of 8; 4 brothers (3 are now late) and 4 sisters (2 are late).My family is polygamous, and my mother is the 2nd wife. Both first wife and my dad are late. My mother is alive but old. She is around 71 years old.
My stepbrother, the only son to my stepmother, paid my school fees from form one to form four against his mother’s wish. This has played a great role in shaping my life. I have seen so many orphans and needy children to school considering am a beneficiary of his mercy.
I graduated with a Diploma in Secretarial, Business Administration and Computer Science from Mombasa Polytechnic. Currently, I work in a Tea and Coffee export firm where I am in charge of the Stocks and Computer Dept. My side hustle is in the transport sector where I am involved in car hire/ and tuk-tuks. I am a born-again Christian and worship at the Jesus Celebration Centre – Mombasa under Bishop Wilfred Lai. Am single and happy! I have never been married but I am looking forward to walking down the aisle in God’s time.
- What led to the decision to adopt a baby?
Mine is a divine calling from God. It all started as a dream that I didn’t understand, but after prayers over a period of 5 months, I learnt that God wanted me to adopt a child. I sincerely didn’t like the idea, but went ahead to adopt one out of sheer OBEDIENCE to God! I am single and my strong faith in God doesn’t allow me to have children out of wedlock. I, therefore, didn’t adopt because of infertility as many people who meet me assume.
Adoption is not for barren people only, in fact, the main reason for adoption is the best interest of a child, not the parent. The society looks at adoption with such a fixed mindset that when you adopt, people tend to think you are barren even if you did it to give a child a loving family.
In the beginning, I was very bitter with God because I did not want to take this route as it was not fair. My expectations did not involve an adopted child but a nuclear family that included biological kids.Nevertheless, as a good Christian, I took it to God in prayer and tested God severally.Finally, He confirmed that was His will for me, so I went ahead and adopted one.
3.Take us through that journey
My adoption journey started with proper preparations and anyone seeking to take this route should also be prepared in the following manner,
- Be sure that you want to adopt
- Identify an authorized adoption agency to work with throughout
- Visit the agency for an initial interview where you will be asked why you want to adopt a baby among other questions. Feel free to ask as many questions as you want during the interview such as the cost of adoption, what it entails, procedure, home study, placement, fostering, legal process etc
- Fill forms and attach relevant documents as requested by the agency and return them within the shortest time possible.
Once you are done with the interview, a social worker will come to your home and assess its suitability for raising a child.If it is suitable and you have paid the facilitation fee at the agency, you will be required to attend a counseling session as well. After counseling, your documents will be presented to the Case Committee. In case you are approved or deferred, you will learn of it in writing from your agency. Matching and placement will be done by the agency.
The foster period will follow where you will have the baby for three months and be required to visit the agency two times and give a report on how you are bonding with the baby. Feel free to say anything you would want the social worker to know concerning the baby during the visit. The social worker will visit you again to see how the baby is doing at home and file a report on the same.
You can only start the legal process of adoption once all parties are satisfied that you and the baby have bonded well. You can hire a lawyer or represent yourself and since I am not conversant with legal matters, I hired one for my case.
4.How was the legal process?
There are certain steps you have to follow and they entail,
- First Appearance that involves the appointment of Guardian Ad Litem – This can be your parent, friend, relative or a social worker. Basically, they should be very familiar with your journey because they will be expected to write a report on why they feel you should be allowed to adopt the baby and file it in court.
- The court will ask the Children’s department officer in writing to visit you, see how you have bonded with child and write a report then file it in court within a certain period. You are expected to follow them up and make sure they come home within the expected time.
- Legal Guardian – this is a couple married by law and they are expected to swear before a court that they will stand in for you and take care of the child until the child attains maturity in case you die before the child attains 18 years of age
- The Agency that declared the child free for adoption is expected to appear before a court and explain why they declared the child free for adoption and why they think it is in the best interest of the child for you to adopt her/him.
- The judge will study all the documents presented and give consent to your prayer to be the legal parent of the child. At that point, all the parental rights of the biological parents will be terminated.
- The judge will then issue you with a court order and copy of the judgment.
- The next step will be for your lawyer to apply for an adoption order, where the child is entered into adopted persons register.
- It is only at this point that you can apply for the birth certificate in your name.
To adopt a Kenyan baby you should be a Kenyan citizen and be 25 years and above or 21 years than the child you want to adopt. An unmarried female applicant can only adopt a child under special circumstances. Married couples, on the other hand, must be married for three years and above and can adopt any sex.
You should also not have any criminal records and be ready to show a medical report with HIV and Urine tests. HIV+ people can adopt children as well. Anyone seeking to adopt a child should also show financial proof that they can take care of their child and this can be in form of a salary slip, bank statements, business ownership and so on. You must also have a home whether rented or owner occupied and be of sound mind.
5.What are some of the pitfalls to avoid when you want to adopt a baby?
- Uncertainty – Be sure you really want to adopt as it is not revocable, but permanent
- Formality – Don’t solicit for a child from anyone (biological mother included) other than legal adoption agencies
- Don’t offer money to buy a child
- Formal Declaration – Not all children in a home are free for adoption; don’t take any child from a home or anywhere else before they are declared free for adoption by a legal/authorized adoption Agency
- Parental consent – a written consent from a parent or a relative giving out the child for adoption is a mandatory requirement
- Medical test – you are free to have medical tests done on the child you are adopting before you commit to taking the child
- Bonding – If you feel you have not bonded well for any reason, you are free to talk to your agency/social worker about your concerns
- Legal Guardians – only choose someone you can trust well to be your child’s 2ndparents
- Inheritance – Be careful, not everyone who supports you now is for your child and this means that you should write a will and include your child prior to your demise. Adoptees suffer in the hands of relatives in the absence of a will.
- Right to know – Every adoptee has a right to know who they were before adoption so feel free to walk them through the journey. If you don’t tell them, someone else will do so and they might not tell them in the right way which might lead to rebellion!
- Support from spouse – married couples must work as a team
- Experienced lawyer – work with a lawyer that has done adoption before to avoid unnecessary delays.
- Once the baby has been given to you, what are some of the things to do to foster a healthy relationship?
Spend quality time with your child, ensure that you are the one who does their bathing and feeding. Allow the child to sleep with you until they are old enough to be transferred to their room.
- Tell us about your little child (name, how old,)
My daughter’s name is Angel Debrah Faraja and she is three years old.
- How is the relationship between the two of you?
The relationship between the two of us is awesome, my daughter is the best thing that happened to me, she is such a beautiful loving soul. She calls me mammy, mammy yangu (my mammy)
- Are you planning to adopt more children?
Yes, Iam starting the process of adopting a son in January next year. I am currently talking to my agency about it.
- Have you told her she is adopted?
No! She is still too young to understand, I intend to start around 5 years when she can understand where babies come from or what makes up a family.
- How has he coped with the extended family?
My family loves Angel, she is cherished and highly placed.
- How should one cope with the stigma associated with adoption?
- Live your life, you owe no one any explanations. Don’t seek approval from people, they will always have something to say. Some say out of jealousy just because you have done what they can’t do.
- Take good care of your child; let your love and support for your child do the talking for you. Everybody loves to be associated with successful people. Let your success do the talking.
- Are you a member of the Adoption Society of Kenya? If so how has it benefitted you?
No, The Adoptive Parents Association of Kenya is dormant, therefore, am not a member. We, however, have an Adoptive Parents Network group that we formed to encourage, advise and support one another when we meet once in a while to talk about Adoption related issues.
- What advice do you have for other women or men who may want to adopt a child?
Adoption is Godly, its divine, we were adopted into the family of God, I challenge every family to adopt a Kenyan child, our own. It is not expensive, it’s not for the rich, anyone can adopt, it’s doable, it is affordable. Every child deserves a loving family, not to be in a children’s home. If there is anybody willing to adopt, go ahead, it is fulfilling, it’s a blessing to walk with a child to her/his destiny.