Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I am residing in the United States (USA) and have been taking care of my three grand-nephews. Both parents have agreed to give up their parental rights and I wanted to know what is the best way to go about adopting these children.
You did not say how long you have been taking care of the children, but it is clear that you have also been providing for them in every way. It is generally required that they should have been in your care for at least two years and have been in your lawful custody for the said two years before you make your applications. They should generally be under the age of 16 years at the making of the applications.
You have gone a very good way to commence the process for you to apply for adoption, as when the parents are contacted by an officer of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), they would readily state their consent to your adoption of their respective children.
What should you then do? You should contact the agency and obtain a pre-adoption form for each of your grand-nephews, which you should complete and return to the agency. These would be reviewed by an officer on behalf of the Adoption Board, which is the agency under the Children (Adoption of) Act with the responsibility for adoptions in Jamaica. Once the officer in the initial reviews decides that you are a suitable person to adopt your grand-nephews, you would be provided with an application for adoption form for each child, with medical forms and a list of the documents which you must submit with your applications. The packages provided to you, generally, would include the children's medical forms, the adult applicant adpoter's medical form for each application, and the list of documentation which the Adoption Board requires for the processes and they may also possibly request some other information which would be relevant to each of your particular applications.
You should make sure that you have ready all the necessary documents, that all certificates are original certified or notarised copies; for example, birth certificates (of the children and including yours, as you reside in the USA, you must prove that you are were born and are domiciled in Jamaica). Also, marriage certificates which show your family relationship with the children. You would also need to have prepared and to submit as well at the end of the process, a home study or assessment written report (your children's officer will inform and give you advice about this. When you complete your actual applications to adopt after you have been approved by the initial reviewing officer, you must send every document required together at that stage upon your submission of your application to the agency. After receipt of it, you would be assigned to a children's officer who would be in charge of all further processing of your applications. This officer would also be the one you would contact with any enquiries and who would advise and/or direct you whether you need a licence or you can proceed as a Jamaican who resides abroad, or during the processing of your applications you can check the progress of your applications with this officer.
The children's officer, after concluding that your applications are satisfactory, would submit them to a review committee of the Adoption Board, the case committee. Once this committee approves you to adopt your grand-nephews, you would have to make formal applications to the court (you would be guided/directed whether this should be done here or in the USA by your case worker) and the applications would be heard in the appropriate court and you and the children must attend the court hearing. After the court makes an adoption order for each of your grand-nephews, you can, a month or so after the date of the orders, apply for adoption birth certificates, to be issued by the Registrar General's Department, and the children can have your surname as theirs.
I hope that I have simplified the process for you. You can start the process online. Remember that the process of your applications to the agency is free of charge and that you only have to pay for obtaining the copies of the documents you require.
Websites for the CPFSA:-
1. https://adopt.com/jamaica — for use by persons in the USA.
5. www.childprotection.gov.jm — click on Adoption Forms.
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.