Fifth Response: Domestic adoption
When all efforts to enable reunification or kinship care have been exhausted, domestic adoption may be considered. Adoption is the process where the legal guardianship of a child is transferred from her or his parents (or from the state) to new parents via a foster care order that can be consolidated into a full adoption order after three years of foster care, as explained in the Children Act.
All efforts should be made to find a suitable family in the child's country of origin so not to dislocate the child from her or his cultural heritage and national identity.
The Ugandan government believes that it is best for all children to grow up in families (as opposed to growing up in orphanages). Assistant Commissioner for Children James Kaboggoza explains why.
"We believe that the best place for a child to grow up is in a family, in a community setting. Too many children are growing up separated from their families or orphaned, living in child care institutions. If children grow up in institutions, they lose the meaning in their life. If they grow up in a family they learn how to love, they learn how to live with one another, they learn their duties and become responsible citizens of tomorrow. They have a sense of belonging."
"We encourage Ugandan citizens to open their hearts and homes to children who have no families of their own and make a place for them within their own family."
Due to the strength and emphasis on the extended family, Uganda has a long tradition of families caring for children of family members; often this is referred to as informal fostering or informal adoption. Legally adopting children who are non-blood relatives is still a fairly new concept in Uganda.
During 2011, MoGLSD partnered with Child's i Foundation to run a campaign called Ugandans Adopt, to promote domestic adoption. This campaign was and is very successful having resulted in more than 30 Ugandan families adopting non-blood relatives. The Adoption Panel is chaired by the Government of Uganda under The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
While many misconceptions and fears still exist about adoption, the campaign has proved that through education and good social work practises there is a demographic of Ugandans who can and will adopt non-blood relatives.
The campaign continues to call on all children's homes to join the Ugandans Adopt process and make their children available for domestic foster care and domestic adoption.
This however needs further support and backing as many child care institutions involved in adoption prefer to make children directly available for international adoption without first pursuing domestic placements, as required by the official Alternative Care Framework.