Not only Bahamians are allowed to adopt Bahamian children or children from abroad. Non Bahamians are also allowed to adopt children from The Bahamas; however all applicants must firstly be approved by the Department of Social Services. Before non Bahamian applicants are approved they must be deemed eligible to adopt under the laws of their country. For instance, American applicants must apply to the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Further, the applicants must meet additional requirements in order to adopt and to bring that child to the United States, which are as follows:
- The applicants must be a U. S. Citizen
- If they are not married, he/she must be at least 25 years old
- If they are married, the applicants must jointly adopt the child and your spouse must also be a U. S. Citizen or have legal status in the United States
- Other requirements will also determine the applicants' eligibility such as home visits, financial background, fingerprinting and criminal background checks
In addition to the above requirements, the applicants must meet their home state's requirements in order to adopt.
Once the application for the adoption has been approved by the Department of Social Services, the next stage is for the applicants to retain an attorney to complete this process.
In the case of private adoptions, the applicants find the child themselves and proceed with the adoption. The parents of the child, usually the mother, executes a consent agreeing to the adoption, which consent will not be considered valid until the child is at least six (6) weeks old.
An adoption is begun in the Supreme Court by filing the Originating Summons that requests that a certain person be appointed as the Guardian ad litem, to protect the interest of the child and the applicants request to adopt the child. The applicants are also required to file a Statement outlining their date of birth, nationality, marital status, salary and type of housing. A marriage certificate of the applicants, birth certificate and health certificate of the child are attached to this Statement. The applicants are also required to swear or affirm an Affidavit confirming the contents of the Statement. Also filed at this time are the Consent of the parent or parents of the child and the Consent from the proposed Guardian asserting that he/she is prepared to act as such Guardian. Additionally, a Summons seeking the appointment for the Guardian ad litem and an Undertaking by the applicants that they would be responsible for the costs of the Guardian are also filed.
Once the above documents are filed and served on the proposed Guardian ad litem, they would enter an Appearance and the attorney or attorneys for the applicants would apply for a date for the hearing to appoint the Guardian. On the hearing date, the attorney would appear and an Order for the appointment of the Guardian would be made.
It is important to note that, although not set out in the Adoption Act or the Rules, practice requires that if the proposed adoption involves a foreign child, the documents must be served on the Attorney General's office. The reason for this is that an adoption of a non Bahamian child by Bahamian parents automatically grants Bahamian citizenship to the child. Therefore, the Attorney General is usually very anxious to confirm that the adoption is not a fraud.
In most cases where children are being adopted from one of the hostels (listed in Adoption in The Bahamas Part I) or if Social Services are involved then the Director of Social Services is appointed as the Guardian ad litem. In private adoptions, normally attorneys or other professionals are appointed.
Once the Guardian ad litem is appointed by the Court, home visits are made and the Guardian is required to make a report indicating whether or not the application is supported and ought to be granted by the Court as it is in the best interest of the child. After the Guardian's report is completed, it is filed and a second application is made to the Court for the hearing of the actual adoption. The Judge reviews the report, addressing any concerns or questions he/she may have. Further, if the child is foreign, the Attorney General's office addresses the Court as to whether the adoption should be granted or not.
Lastly, if the Judge is satisfied that the correct procedure has been followed and that the adoption is in fact in the best interest of the child, the adoption order is made. This final order is sent to the Register of Records so that the entry can be made in the Adoption Children Registrar at the Registry.
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.