Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I live in the USA and a struggling young woman living in Jamaica wants to give me her child at birth for adoption. I have no knowledge of how to go about this process. Some guidance would be greatly appreciated.
This situation is very fortuitous for you, as you would in effect have two things in your favour before commencing the process of adoption. They are, first, that you have already identified the child you would be applying to adopt, and second, that you already have the consent of the biological mother and I suppose that the biological father is also either agreeable or has made off to parts unknown and left the young woman in the lurch.
You are resident in the USA, which I assume is your permanent home. You have not stated whether you have any relationship to Jamaica. This would have been helpful, because if you were born here and visit often, it could be said that you are domiciled here, for legal purposes.
The USA is one of the scheduled countries under the Children (Adoption of) Act. This would enable you to make your application, but only after six months have expired from the time the child is delivered to you. People who ordinarily reside in Jamaica and are domiciled here can make their application three months after getting the child. This issue of being domiciled plainly means the country you consider to be your permanent home.
You need not fret about this, though, as when you contact the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) for the Adoption Board at 48 Duke Street, Kingston, and you clearly state your circumstance and that you wish to make your application at the appropriate time to adopt the child, you will be given all the information you will need to make the application. This and the necessary forms and documents will be provided to you at no cost. You, however, must meet the costs of, where needed, certifying Jamaican documents, notarising US documents, obtaining your police report, doing your home studies and all necessary medical reports for you and the baby.
I cannot tell you all that you need to know about doing your application in this answer, first, because it would be boringly technical and go on too long. As I said, you will receive assistance from the officers of the CPFSA and a case worker will be assigned to your application during the process towards the grant of an adoption order or a licence since you reside abroad, which would allow you to take the baby with you to your home in the USA.
One thing is a certainty — you can contact them while you await the birth, start your pre-adoption process after the birth, and apply for your adoption order six months after of the baby has been in your custody and care.
You can, of course, retain the services of a lawyer to assist you with the process, but you can also go it alone. You should have attained your 25th birthday though to be eligible to apply.
By the way, you should go to the CPFSA website (http://childprotection.gov.jm/) and inform yourself. You can get your application form and medical forms for download there. And after you have completed them and have all the documents that you should have, you can send them to their offices.
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.