Hanna: CDA, adoption board working to clear application backlog
MINISTER of Youth Lisa Hanna says the Child Adoption Board (CAB) and the Child Development Agency (CDA) are working assiduously to clear a backlog of adoption applications.
"There are 311 cases of adoption that have been approved and have been placed on a waiting list until an available child is matched with them," she said at a press briefing Wednesday at the ministry's Trafalgar Road offices in Kingston.
"In 2012, the CDA gave preference to persons who have been on the list longest. Last year 10 cases we approved and the children were successfully matched with families on the waiting list," Hanna added.
Director of the CDA, Rosalee Gage Grey, said that the process is slowed by the consideration given to the rights of the biological parents of a child is put up for adoption.
"We have to ensure that we take the necessary steps to inform the biological parents of the child of the process as well as provide them with counselling, before they begin the paperwork. We advise parents to do what is best for the child, whether it be adoption or even considering foster care adoption," Grey said.
She added that placing a child in foster care does not mean that the child will be put up for adoption.
"Once a child has been given up for adoption and has been matched, the biological parents have no legal rights to the child. Adoption should never be confused with placing a child in foster care. There are cases where parents have come to us asking for their child to be placed in home or with a family that can take care of the child until they are able to do so themselves," said Grey.
Patricia Richardson Sutherland, member of CAB, said while the intention of adoptive parents are usually good, due diligence has to be carried out to protect the rights of the affected children.
"We have a real good problem in Jamaica, we have families and family members who want to adopt their own relatives. I know of a case where a couple that had children of their own illegally adopted seven children, one a Jamaican boy. They raised their adopted children to work on their farm. They provided the basic needs for the children, and when the Jamaican child graduated from university they handed him a bill for all his expenses he had accumulated," Sutherland said.
— Karim Smith and Kimberley Hibbert