Our reporter was with Director of Child Development, Delta State Ministry of Women Affairs, Mr. Fred Ugh­eni, under the permission of the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Kevwe Agas, where he gave step procedure for child adoption in Delta State.

We understand that some orphanages are registered, some are not, why?

They have not come to register. They are illegal. We don’t have anything to do with those ones However, we are working to ensure they are registered. There are some that have applied and we are processing their applications. We are making sure that those people coming in are credible people. People running orphanages are supposed to be people who have something to offer society. They should be people that have the wherewithal to run orphanage Not those who do not have anything but seeking for help from government.

Has your ministry caught any of the homes selling chil­dren?

We are not aware of that. We have no information about that.

Now tell us what are the processes for adopting children?

The prospective adoptee will apply formally to the Ministry of Women Affairs. You go to the court to get authority to adopt. You attach your written application and come to the ministry of women affairs. Then, the ministry gives you a form to fill. You attach your birth certificate, marriage certificate, age declaration, evidence of income and consent from relation of both parties. You must get a family member who will stand and say yes this issue is known to us. The husband and wife cannot just come and say they need children. They will swear affidavit to that effect and add their passports.

Having received the applications, the adoptee parents are invited to the Ministry Of Women Affairs. We interview them; what they are doing, to test whether they are capable of taking care of the children. We want to know the reason why they want to adopt the child. We also make them to realize that adopting these children is not question of taking them to your house to become your houseboys or girls. We want to know the plans they have for them. We want security for the child that will be given to them that is why we bring in consenters. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow.

You know our people; they may come up later in life and say as far as we are concerned our brother had no child before he died. So, for that we don’t know this child. We want to make sure there is somebody who will say yes this is my brother’s son. When we are satisfied that from information given to us and from the inquiries we made, we can now say they are fit to adopt a child.

How long does this process take?

It doesn’t take a long time. It depends on the applicants them­selves. It depends on the level of their seriousness. Once we finish processing the files, we invite them. Before now, what we normally do is that after we have finished with the interview, we ask them to go and scout for a baby of their choice from any of the homes. But from what we are hearing, this commis­sioner and her team said no, the issue of scouting for a child should be done in the headquarters. Now, the plan is that once you have undergone the process and we find you fit, a child will be assigned to you from the ministry headquarters. The commissioner has put all the registered orphanages together, the statistics of children they have in each of the homes; their age and sex such that we know the one that is adoptable and not adoptable. Not all the children in the home are adoptable.

The orphanage is a transit home. It’s not a permanent home for any child. Maybe, due to some circumstances, children are taken to the place for care and protection, they are not all or­phans. For instance, the mother may die and the father cannot take care of the child. This type is taken there for a period of time. After a while, the father goes and takes his child back to his home. You can’t give such child out on adoption. There are also some cases that involve the police, until their cases are treated and the police tell you they have concluded reports, you cannot do anything with those children. They will remain there until the matter is treated and settled.

Once you’ve gotten a baby, we also do a kind of social inquiry into how that baby got to the home and for how long has he been there. The efforts so far made whether that child has any trace. When we are convinced that there is no trace, for instance, a child that is abandoned, we give sometimes whether there will be announcement on a missing child. There are so many people who need children but do not have.

Before releasing a child from the home, the ministry must send a letter to the home, directing them to release such a child to such and such a people. They are the people we have interviewed and found fit to take care of that child. Then, that child has to stay with the couple for at least three months for bonding to ascertain whether there will be any problem. If any issue is observed, you can return the child and complain of incompatibility. We return the child and look for another one. Once they are compatible after the three months, they now go to court for the enrollment of order. Once the enrollment of order is given, the child becomes your own legally.

A copy of the enrollment of order is put in the file. We now write a letter of confirmation that the whole process of adop­tion was done here and we give them that letter. What next is that we try as much as possible to visit and monitor the child.

It must, however, be noted that single parents can also adopt children. There are some women that will say they don’t want to marry. They don’t have husbands. Some have lost their hus­bands. In that case, somebody from the husband’s side must come and say yes, she was marrying my brother, but they had no children. I give the go ahead to adopt. Single parents who do not want husbands could also adopt but their reason must be genuine. What we do in that case is if it’s a lady we will not give her a boy, it must be a girl. If it’s a man you must get a boy.

Any child said to be adopted and the ministry does not have the file it means that child was adopted illegally. All the adop­tions we do here, they all have files.

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