NEWS

Adoptive Parents Do Not Need To Live In Fiji, Committee Hears

UNICEF’s recommendation was that if the child needs to be adopted, the matching of the child with the most suitable parents should be done by an independent body or agency such as the social welfare department or an adoption panel.
05 Mar 2019 09:11
Adoptive Parents Do Not Need To Live In Fiji, Committee Hears
Shelley Casey (third from left) with the Standing Committee on Justice, Law. and Human Rights. Photo: DEPTFO News

Adoptive parents from overseas do not need to live in Fiji for a period of six months for the adoption process because they will be pre-screened in their home country.

This was highlighted by the United Nations International Children’s Emergencies Fund (UNICEF) child protection legislation expert Shelley Casey during UNICEF’s submission on the Adoption Bill, Bill No 32 of 2018, to the Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights yesterday.

Ms Casey informed the committee that the head process involved the adoptive parents to be fully pre-screened in their home country and they will come to Fiji to receive the child and the court will then give an interim or final adoption order.

“In the inter-country adoption process, a foreign couple would not be permitted to enter Fiji and select a child to adopt.

“The adoptive parents will have to apply officially and then be matched by the social welfare department and the adoption panel with a child who is already identified as available for inter-country adoption in Fiji,” Ms Casey said.

She also highlighted that the records of the child is fully sealed until the child turns 18 years of age.

“No one is allowed to access those records until the child turns 18. At 18, then both the child and the birth parents will have the option; if they want the information released or not.

“The bill also does not prohibit the birth mothers in selecting the adoptive parents or someone known to them. In the private adoption, the birth mother would know who are the adoptive parents adopting their child.

“In the event where the social welfare is the independent body matching the adoptive parents with the child, the two parties will commonly share the information, the birth mother gets to see the back- ground and the information about the couple, except for the names,” Ms Casey said.

She said the UNICEF’s recommendation was that if the child needs to be adopted, the matching of the child with the most suitable parents should be done by an in- dependent body or agency such as the social welfare department or an adoption panel.

“The international body strongly recommends having clear restrictions on the law providing direct payments to parents or caregivers in exchange for adoption and to set fixed and reasonable fees for everybody involved in the adoption process to avoid sale of children or improper financial gain from adoption.

“The bill also provides for a trial period for the child being in the care of the adoptive parents before the court orders are finalised which is currently set at six months which is roughly in line with the practice in other jurisdictions.

“The purpose of that is so that the court and the social welfare department can have a good under- standing of the adoptive parent’s abilities and how well the child is adapting to the new family environment before the adoption order is made.

“On the impact of adoption to children’s heritage and other rights, most adoption laws do make some provisions to outline the impact of adoption on the child’s relationship with the birth parents and their adoptive parents,” Ms Casey said.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

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