Alternative Care
for Children in Uganda
A government and civil society partnership
to support the Alternative Care Framework

Sixth Response: Intercountry adoption

The Alternative Care Framework and the SAFe campaign partners only support Intercountry adoption when undertaken according to the rules stipulated in the Children's Act of Uganda, which requires residency in Uganda for three years.

The Children's Act of Uganda is clear on the process and governance of International Adoption.

46. Intercountry adoption.

A person who is not a citizen of Uganda may in exceptional circumstances adopt a Ugandan child, if he or she

  • has stayed in Uganda for at least three years;
  • has fostered the child for at least thirty-six months under the supervision of a probation and social welfare officer;

In Section 48 the law says of the functions of the court.

The court shall, before making an adoption order, be satisfied that ...

  • the applicant or any person on behalf of the applicant has not paid or agreed to pay money or anything in place of money to the parent, guardian or any person in charge of the child in consideration of the adoption of the child.

If all the preferred responses in the continuum of care have been tried and a solution has not been found, as a last resort, the Alternative Care Framework allows for intercountry (international) adoption to be considered. However, use of this last resort should be considered a call to action to invest more in the earlier, preferred responses.

Concerns

The rapid increase in international adoptions from Uganda to the USA shows a growing demand for Ugandan children.

Adoption from Uganda

Adopters in America pay about US$40,000 to adopt a child from Uganda, which is a powerful incentive for those down the chain of supply to cut corners. It is a market force that usually uses the 'Legal Guardianship Order' loophole that was not designed for adoptions.

In 2013, 97% of adoptions from Uganda to the USA used this Loophole, ignoring the Ugandan Adoption Law.

During the baseline study a number of child care institutions were identified which exist solely for the purposes of making children available for international adoption. In many cases these child care institutions were funded solely by international adoption agencies and evidence was found that children in those institutions had been procured from communities in order to be matched to the demographics demanded by foreign families.

Finally

The most recent report from Uganda about the adoption system was published in March 2015. It was commissioned by the Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. Questions have been raised on this subject in parliament and reforms have been proposed.

Here is the last paragraph from the executive summary of the recent report.

Based on the study findings, it is recommended that Uganda takes quick steps to ratify the Hague Convention and put in place the necessary institutional mechanisms to regulate and oversee intercountry adoptions, put a temporary suspension on the use of legal guardianship for purposes of adoption, address existing gaps within the Children’s Act to make provisions that are not currently explicit more explicit, more vigilance by the Courts while processing applications including for domestic adoptions, better supervision and operational support to PSWOs, and continuous public education of the community on adoption and legal guardianship processes among others.

Here is the full report Legal Guardianship and Adoption Practices in Uganda.

Note on the Hague Convention

Adopting the Hague Convention on Protecting Children in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is generally regarded as a step in the right direction to help reduce child trafficking and to remove some of the worst features of unregulated international adoption.

About 90 countries have adopted this Convention, however, much depends on the proper implementation of the processes. Adopting the Hague Convention is meaningless if corruption undermines the integrity of the process.

Here is an interesting analysis of the issues faced by a country implementing the Hague Convention.

Signing Hague Convention: implication and challenges for Korea