Frequently Asked Questions

Generally, it is the legal process of taking up the parental responsibility over a child of another person. The process is initiated by the proposed adoptive parents. The proposed adoptive parents must have identified a child who is available for adoption/free for adoption. Once an adoption order is made, it creates a permanent relationship between the adoptive parents and the minor. This is the main differentiating factor between adoption and guardianship which is a legal relationship conferred by a Court in which the Guardian exercises parental responsibilities over the minor until the minor attains the age of majority.

Kenya applies both International, regional and national laws in adoption processes. Key International and Regional adoption legal regimes include:The Convention on the Rights of the Child, The HagueConvention relating to Intercountry adoption, The 1986 United Nations Declaration on Social and Legal Principles Relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1990. At the National Level, we have the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the Children Act No. 8 of 2001.

Any child above the age of six months who has been declared as free for adoption by a registered adoption Society is eligible for adoption. The subject child must have been a resident of Kenya as at the time of initiating the adoption process whether or not the child is a Kenyan Citizen.

An application for adoption can be made by a single person or by a couple. The Applicant or at least one of the parties must either be;

  • Aged between twenty five and sixty five years
  • Twenty one years older than the child
  • A relative of the child
  • Father or mother of the child

The following persons are not eligible to adopt a child in Kenya unless the Court considers that there are peculiar circumstances in the instant case;

  • a sole male applicant in respect of a female child
  • a sole female applicant in respect of a male child
  • an applicant or joint applicants who has or both have attained the age of sixty five years
  • a sole foreign female applicant

Before making an application for adoption, the Applicant(s) must have had continuous care and control of the child for at least three consecutive months. The Applicants(s) must submit themselves through the assessment processes of the Society which placed the child with the Applicants. When filing the Application, the Applicants must have two guardians: the Guardian ad litem and the Legal Guardian. The guardians must be people who are well known to the applicants and the subject t minor. The Guardian ad litemis appointed by the Court to oversee how the child is brought up by the proposed adoptive parents and is required to file a written report on the suitability of the Applicants after a given period. The duty of this guardian lapses upon the issuance of the final orders. The Legal Guardian is someone whoaccepts to act as the parent to the subject minor in case the applicants are incapacitated not to be able to discharge their parental duties over the minor or are dead. It is a lifetime commitment. During the process, the Adoption Society which freed the minor for adoption is required through its representatives to prepare a report on the suitability of the Applicants. The Children Officer from the usual place of residence is also required to make a home inquiry and file her report before the final orders are issued.

An adopted child is entitled to enjoy all the rights derivable from biological parents. The Adoptive parents have a duty to ensure that the adopted child enjoys all rights a child is entitled to. Adoption process is permanent, hence the adopted child have a permanent status in the new home. Such a child will be entitled to a share of the adoptive parents’ estate upon their demise like any other biological child in the family.

The Children Act clothes the High Court with exclusive original jurisdiction over adoption matters. The Court has a duty to hold the proceedings in camera and keep the names of the parties involved in confidence.

The fact that the Applicant meets the above criteria does not guarantee that an adoption order will be issued in his/her favour. In any matter relating to children, the best interests of a child are paramount. The Court must be satisfied that an adoption order will advance the best interests of the child.