The steps to adopt a child in Cameroon are very strict as a result of child trafficking cases in the world. Adoption is the social, emotional and legal process by which a child who will not be raised by his/her birth parents become a full and permanent legal member of another family while maintaining genetic and psychological connections to his/her birth family. The steps to adopt a child in Cameroon must be engaged by a family solicitor and the entire adoption procedure must be done in strict compliance with Section 41 and 42 of the Civil Status Registration Ordinance No. 80-02 of 29th of June 981, section 18(1)(b) of law No 2006/015 of 29th December 2006, Section 10 of the Southern Cameroon High Court Law of 1955 alongside Section 47(2) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. A successful adoption process in Cameroon before any competent High Court will confer certain rights and privileges on both the adopted child and the adoptive parents (Legal parents).
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO ADOPT A CHILD IN CAMEROON?
Persons eligible to adopt a child in Cameroon are to have the following qualities;
- The applicant filing for adoption has to be above 40years of age per section 344 of the Code Civil for individual applications. This position was also upheld by the Supreme Court of Cameroon when quashing the decision of an originating court in the case of Ntamack Therese contre Qui de Droit based on the fact that the applicant was 29 years of age.
- The applicant must be financially capable to ensure the upkeep of the child. Hence must not be bankrupt.
- The applicant must be of good character and moral standing. Hence must not have been convicted of a crime.
- The applicant must show proof that the interest of the child is paramount as the main reason for the adoption process.
- The applicant must show prove that he or she has a suitable place of abode for the development of the child.
- The applicant must show prove that he or she is medically fit to parent the child.
WHAT CATEGORY OF PERSONS CAN ADOPT A CHILD IN CAMEROON?
There are four categories of persons who can adopt a child in Cameroon. They are as follows;
- Single person
- Married couple
- The partner of the child’s parent
However, the consent of the biological parent of the child if still alive, the guardian of the child or an orphanage must be gotten before an adoption procedure can be engaged in Cameroon.
WHAT IS THE POSITION OF THE CHILD’S BIRTH PARENTS IN AN ADOPTION PROCESS IN CAMEROON?
The birth parent(s) of the child are supposed to agree to the adoption and give their consent to the procedure. They are to sign an irrevocable consent document in favour of the adoption procedure. This document must be filed before the competent court in Cameroon.
After the adoption is granted, the birth parents of the child are to be given access to communicate from time to time with the adopted child. This is to keep the child in touch with their origin.
WHAT IS THE REQUIRED AGE OF ADOPTIVE PARENTS IN CAMEROON?
As aforementioned the age for a single parent is 40years and above. For couples married for over ten years, one of the spouses must be older than 35 years. If the condition for the couple is not met, then the couple may submit a medical report from a physician that confirms their infertility to have children. This can waive the age requirement.
The age difference between the adoptive parent and the adoptee has to be 15 years for single parent adoption and 10 years if the adoptee is the child of the prospective adoptive parent’s spouse.
However, the age difference requirement can be reduced by exemption from the President of the Republic of Cameroon.
WHAT IS THE POSITION OF A MARRIED COUPLE IN AN ADOPTION PROCEDURE IN CAMEROON?
Married couples are both to agree to the adoption. This is because one spouse may not adopt without the consent of the other spouse.
CHILD ADOPTION FROM AN ORPHANAGE IN CAMEROON
Child adoption from an orphanage in Cameroon is subject to a special administrative procedure when compared with adoption between two individuals. The following steps will have to be engaged in collaboration with the social welfare services;
- Application made to the orphanage of choice
- Search for the suitable child
- Proof of eligibility to the social service as an adoptive parent
- If eligible, the applicant should obtain custody grant on the child in order to bond with the child.
- The social welfare service will visit the children during the custody period in order to be certain of the positive development of the child under the parentage of the prospective adoptive parent.
- After the custody period, the adoption process can be engaged before the competent court.
WHO CAN BE ADOPTED IN CAMEROON?
- An Orphan
- The child of a sole parent who is not capable of providing the proper care and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
- The child of two parents who both consent to their child being adopted by writing an irrevocable released documents for the child to have a better life under the parentage of the prospective adoptive parent.
CUSTODY AND ADOPTION
Custody of a child in Cameroon is usually recommended by law in order to create a bond between the prospective adoptive parent and the child of interest. This is usually the case when the child is from an orphanage. The custody period will be on observation by the social affairs service. After a successful period of custody, then the adoption process can be engaged.
REQUIREMENTS TO TRANSFER A CHILD FROM THE PLACE OF ADOPTION TO ANOTHER JURISDICTION
If the child in question is supposed to be under the observation of the social affairs service such as the case of a child gotten from an orphanage, the transfer of the child by the adoptive parents from the place of custody or adoption is usually engaged with an official notification procedure of transfer.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ADOPTION FROM AN ORPHANAGE AND AN ADOPTION BETWEEN PERSONS?
An adoption between persons is not as remote in procedure as an adoption from an orphanage.
As regards an adoption between persons who consent to an adoption, the competent court is seized almost immediately after the consent is gotten from the persons involved and all the documentary requirements are met.
As regards an adoption from an orphanage, the social service in the place of the adoption has a great role to play to ascertain the suitability of the prospective adoptive parent vis a vis the targeted child. If the social service is not comfortable with the position of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the adoption process will not be engaged. The adoptive parent(s) have a plethora of conditions to be met before he/she can be considered eligible for the adoption.
ADOPTION BY FAMILY RELATIONS IN CAMEROON
Adoption by family relations in Cameroon is very common before the courts in Cameroon. These adoptions are usually engaged by family relatives based abroad desirous of helping a child born of another relative who cannot afford to provide for the child. The relative who is the prospective adoptive parent and the biological parent to the child of interest have to furnish the following documents;
- A copy of birth certificate of applicant and child of interest
- A copy of marriage certificate if the applicant is married.
- A copy of proof of residence of applicant.
- A copy of irrevocable consent to the adoption signed by the biological parent(s) to the child.
- A copy of medical certificate of fitness of the applicant.
- A copy of morality report of the applicant.
- A copy of bank statement of the applicant.
- A copy of non-conviction of the applicant etc.
ADOPTION BY FOREIGNERS IN CAMEROON
Most of such adoptions are engaged with orphanages in Cameroon. The interested foreigner must ensure that he/she applies for a custody grant first from the competent court. After the custody has been granted and the period has elapsed, then an adoption can be engaged before the competent court. It’s important to note that the bond between the adoptive parent and the child during the period of custody is pivotal for the adoption process to be successful.
REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILD ADOPTION BY FOREIGNERS IN CAMEROON
- A copy of marriage certificate of applicant
- A copy of proof of residence of applicants
- A copy of identification documents of applicants
- A copy of the birth certificate of applicant and child
- A copy of medical report of fitness of applicant
- A copy of non-conviction/non crime certificate of applicant
- Full and passport size photographs of applicant
- A copy of bank statement and proof of income of applicant
- A copy of employment letter of company documents of applicant
- A copy of consent document from the biological parent of the child or the orphanage from which the child was gotten.
- A social inquiry report of the child from the ministry of social affairs.
N/B The foreign applicant must have a guarantor who is supposed to be a Cameroonian. The guarantor is to submit the same documents as the foreign applicant at the social affairs bureau.
WHAT IS THE BEST PRACTICE FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION IN CAMEROON?
The best practice for intercountry adoption in Cameroon with an existing orphanage is to seek custody before engaging the adoption process before the competent court.
REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS TO HAVE A LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE TO ACT ON THEIR BEHALF IF NOT PHYSICALLY PRESENT IN CAMEROON.
For adoption between consenting persons, the adoptive parent can execute a power of attorney in favour of a third party to act as his/her representative and caretaker of the child in their absence.
For adoption concerning a child gotten from an orphanage, the adoptive parent who is physically absent is to ensure that the social service of the place of abode of the adopted child engages the procedure of obtaining a morality report on the caretaker in order to ascertain the fact that the person been given the duty through a power of attorney is indeed of unquestionable moral behavior.
Generally, adoptive parents who are not physically present in Cameroon usually keep their adopted children with their family and in their family houses pending their arrival to Cameroon.
Also, as regards adoption by foreigners in Cameroon, the guarantor shall be the representative of the adoptive parents.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF A SOCIAL INQUIRY REPORT IN AN ADOPTION PROCESS IN CAMEROON?
A social inquiry report is aimed at ensuring that the welfare of the child is guaranteed. So the report seeks to know the social status of the prospective adoptive parents before the adoption is engaged and to know the social status of the adopted child during the post adoption period.
THE ADOPTION PROCESS PROPER IN CAMEROON
Upon the compilation of all the documents required from the adoptive parents, the biological parents and the child to be adopted, the family solicitor has to engage in the following;
- For Adoption between persons,
- File an originating application
- File support statements
- File social welfare report
- Notify the state prosecutor for submission
- Move the court on the originating motion
- Obtain the adoption decision.
- For Orphanage Adoption
- Select the orphanage
- Apply to the founders of the orphanage
- Inform the social affairs bureau of the place of the orphanage
- Choose the child(ren) according to the specification of the applicant
- Search for a guarantor
- Provide an accommodation for the child to the satisfaction of the social welfare service
- Submit all required documents of the applicant, child and guarantor.
- Apply for custody of the child
- If custody provides a bond between the applicant and the child, then file an originating application for the adoption before the competent court.
- File support statement
- File welfare report
- Notify state prosecutor
- Move the court on the originating application
- Obtain an adoption decision
PROOF THAT THE ADOPTION IS SUCCESSFUL
- A court ruling in favour of the adoption
- An adoption certificate is issued
- The adoption ruling is inscribed at the back of the birth certificate of the child.
WHAT ARE THE POST ADOPTION REQUIREMENTS?
It is a best practice procedure for the adoptive parents to report on the welfare of the adopted children for the first three years after adoption.
UNDER WHAT GROUNDS CAN AN ADOPTION BE REVOKED?
Yes, an adoption can be revoked on the following grounds;
- If it was granted based on misleading information.
- If the adoptive parents becomes incapable to parent the child.
- If the adoptive parent becomes a criminal or someone with questionable moral behavior after the grant of the adoption.
- If the birth parents prove that they were fraudulently coerced into signing an irrevocable consent in favor of the adoption process.
- If it is later discovered that it was a child trafficking adoption.
N/B: Generally, the main ground for the adoption of a child in Cameroon is that the welfare of the child will be guaranteed. Any standard short of that to guarantee the welfare of the child will be sufficient for a granted adoption to be rescinded.