Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I have custody, care and control of my 11 year old son. My partner for the past seven years is interested in adopting him. His biological 'father' is not in the picture at all. How do we go about this?
By custody, care and control, I understand you to mean that you have an order of the court which granted you sole custody and care and control of your son.
You have stated that the biological father is not in the picture, but I quite frankly do not know exactly what you mean by this. Is it that he is paying no attention to his son? Is it that he has not been contributing to his son's maintenance? Is it that he has never, from your son's birth, played any part in his son's life, though he is so named in your son's birth records and birth certificate? Or is it that you do not even know where he is?
It is generally required that both parents consent to the adoption of their child and they are interviewed by the designated officer dealing with the particular application and their consent is then requested in person. There are certain circumstances wherein a parent's consent can be dispensed with, for example in the last point which I mention above. If you do not know where to find the biological father, your partner must prove the efforts that he and you have made to find him. I suggest that if this is indeed the case about your son's father, that you both also place advertisements requesting information about the biological father's whereabouts in the newspapers, and you should keep copies and produce them with your partner's application form.
Since you and your partner are not married, I assume that he is single. As a single person he can adopt your son, especially as he is in a relationship with you and you all reside together.
I am sure that you know that the Adoption Board is, in law and in fact, the only institution responsible for all adoption of children in Jamaica. It is assisted with the processes by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), which is the re-named CDA — Child Development Agency. It is at 48 Duke Street, Kingston, but there are offices in every parish in Jamaica and it is better to avoid delays by making applications in the parish where the child resides.
Your partner must obtain and deliver a completed Pre-Adoption Form which will be reviewed by an officer at the CPFSA in the relevant parish office, and if and when your partner is determined to be a suitable applicant, an application and a medical form plus a list of necessary documents will be sent to him. When he completes and submits his application with all the relevant documents, it will be assigned to a specific children's officer to deal with it to the end. The children's officer will supervise your partner and you all for about three to four months and ensure that the requisite visits to your home, all necessary interviews, and counselling sessions considered necessary are done.
When the officer determines that your partner's application is satisfactory, it will be submitted to a committee for review — the Case Committee of the Adoption Board. Once the committee approves him, the assigned officer/case worker will assist him with the application to the Family Court for the grant of the legal adoption order. Your partner and your son must both attend court for the hearing and you ought to attend as well. After the hearing is completed, the judge will grant the adoption order, having been satisfied by the contents of the documents and by his or her assessment of your partner that the making of the order is in the best interests of the child.
Such an order terminates the biological father's parental rights and obligations. Certified copies of the order granted should be obtained from the court's office. Make sure that you or he asks for more than one certified copy and where and from which officer they should be obtained.
Thereafter, generally after about a month, your partner and you can go and apply for certified adoption birth certificates at the Registrar General's Department, taking one of the certified copies of the court order with you, and once you obtain your copies of this birth certificate, that will be it — your partner from the granting of the order would have become your son's father and the birth certificate will prove this fact.
Please go to the website of the CPFSA and click on Adoption and Forms to obtain information directly from the agency and download a copy of the Pre-Adoption Form so that your partner can start the process. You can retain the services of an attorney-at-law (try to get one with experience in child law) to assist your partner to complete this form and the actual adoption application form when that is sent to him.
All the very best for you and your son and your partner and I hope that you all become very soon, a legally secure family unit living together in peace and love.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.