Many children throughout the world and even in The Bahamas are raised by their adoptive parent or parents. Some are adopted from birth while others are adopted at other ages. However, it becomes more difficult for children to be adopted as they get older as prospective adoptive parent or parents prefer newborn babies or toddlers.
There are boys and girls that are waiting to be adopted in The Bahamas, and if they are never adopted, they remain in the children's homes until the age of 18. Presently there are 8 residential care facilities, 6 in New Providence and 3 throughout the other Islands.
The homes in New Providence include:
1. The Bahamas Children's Emergency Hostel - houses children from birth to 11 years.
2. The Nazareth Center - houses children from birth to 11 years
3. Bilney Lane Children Home - houses children from 2 to 12 Years
4. The Elizabeth Estates Children's Home - houses children from 11 to 18 years
5. The Ranfurly Homes for Children - houses children from 11 to 18 years
Colby House for Boys (Transitional home)
The homes on the other islands are:
1. Grand Bahama Children Home - houses children from birth to 12
2. Zion Children's Home in Eleuthera - houses children from 2 to 12 years (As at the 4th October, 2013 this home did not have any children residing there as the home recently opened this year).
3. Old Blight Mission Home in Cat Island - houses children from 6 to 11 years
Boys and girls are placed in these children's homes as a result of being abandoned, neglected or abused. These children are normally adopted through the Department of Social Services.
A study was conducted at the Department of Social Services, which revealed that they currently have a list of about 18 approved applicants that are waiting for the adoption process to be completed. The majority of these applicants have requested newborns or toddlers between the ages of 2 to 3, three requested children between the ages of 6 to 10, and one applicant requested a child 10 years and older. Majority of the applicants on the waiting list are married couples and the others are single females mostly between the ages of 40 and 50, who were never married and never gave birth.
In 2012, 6 males and 4 females were placed in pre adoptive homes. Seven of the applicants were married couples and the others were single females. So far for this year 1 male and 2 females were placed in the pre adoptive homes. The applicants in this case included 1 married couple and 2 single females.
The Department of Social Services performs two different types of adoptions, closed adoptions and private adoptions. A closed adoption refers to an adoption wherein no identifying information about the birth family or the adoptive family is shared between each other. There is no contact between birthparents and adoptive parents. Whereas a private adoption is an adoption wherein the adoptive parents adopt a child they already know or adopt through an individual birth mother.
Applicants wishing to adopt a child through the Department of Social Services must complete an application form and provide their financial record(s), medical report(s), clean police record (s), passport(s), living accommodations, marriage certificate if applicable, divorce decree if applicable, two reference letters and a motivation letter explaining why they wish to adopt. Applicants can either be married or single. According to section 6 (1) of the Adoption of Children Act, Chapter 131, the applicant or one of the applicants must be at least 25 years old and is at least 21 years older than the infant; or has attained 18 years of age and is a relative to the infant; or is the mother or father of the child.
Once all of the required documents are submitted, interviews and home visits are completed, and a Home Study Report is prepared, the Adoption Committee determines whether the applicant is suitable to adopt. If the applicant is approved then they will be placed in the adoptive home.
Upon approval, the applicant will be required to retain an attorney to complete the process, which procedure will be discussed further in my next article, "Adoption in The Bahamas, Part II." The information stated above is not intended to be construed as legal advice in anyway.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.