4 June 2012
Ghana is to reform its adoption system with the establishment of a Central Authority (CA)at the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) to receive a list of all adoptable children to be entered into a national database.
The CA as part of its mandate would receive all applications for inter-country adoption, enter all eligible applicants for adoption into a register as well as other functions necessary to ensure that the adoption process is carried out in a truthful and transparent manner.
To give impetus to the reforms the DSW has submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare for onward submission to the Cabinet for approval of the creation of the CA, which would serve as a launch pad for Ghana to sign on to the Hague Convention of Inter-Country Adoption.
Ghana, together with Nigeria, DR Congo, South Africa, Mali, Cote d’ Ivoire, Morocco, Uganda and Burkina Faso are countries in Africa that have high international adoption rates.
Reforming the adoption procedures in the country would ensure a tight up of the eligibility rules to minimise over-seas adoption as pertains in China, South Korea, Russia, Ukraine and Guatemala.
The Director of the DSW, Mr Stephen Adongo, told graphic.com.gh that only 13 African countries had so far ratified the Hague Convention which ratification he explained, provided a safeguard to put an end to the illegal adoption of children.
“In the mean tim,e efforts have been made to clean up the system and maintain standards that would create trust and transparency in the adoption process in Ghana,” he said.
He indicated that the DSW has so far approved the licenses of only three international adoption agencies which he named as Adoption Centrum of Sweden, Bethany Christian Services of the USA and Amici Bambini from Italy.
Those agencies, Mr Adongo said, were successfully selected because they had gone through the required procedure including having a track record in foster care and family re-unification.
He acknowledged with concern the springing up of many illegal adoption agencies in the country since they do not go through any form of licensing, a development which he stressed, would be halted when the new reforms came into effect.
“Some of these illegal agencies do not even have NGO certificates. It has also come to our attention that some of these agencies have been banned from other countries,” Mr Adongo added.
The director cautioned all directors of the DSW nationwide to be cautious with any agency that approached them about issues of adoption, cautioning further that any official of the department who failed to do due diligence on such agencies would be held responsible for any lapse.
A guideline for DSW directors on rules of adoption, according Mr Adongo, were being developed to serve as a guide in the discharge of their duties.
But the Director of Child Rights International, a child-centred organisation based in Ghana, Mr Bright Appiah, in a separate interview expressed his opposition to the idea of Ghana ratifying the Hague Convention of Inter-Country Adoption.
For him, ratifying the convention would be in violation of the Children’s Act of Ghana which clearly provides for the welfare and protection of children.
In his view, there were no mechanisms to monitor the welfare of adopted children locally let alone adopting them internationally which was a more difficult task.
Mr Appiah advised that rather than signing on to the Convention, the government should consider whether or not such a policy was in the interest of Ghana and its children for that matter.
For him developing a local support system to improve the welfare of children was the best way forward “and not joining the league of countries that have ratified the Hague Convention which is not in our children’s interest.”
Reports indicate that international adoptions rose by 400 per cent with Africa being the new frontier for international country adoption.
More than 41,000 African children since 2004 were said to be adopted and taken out of their home countries. More than two-thirds of the number in 2009 and 2010 were adopted from Ethiopia which now sends more children abroad for adoption than any other country.