News

Use proper channels: Ministry

Caly did not approach any agencies accredited with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)to put her daughter up for adoption.

She also asked for and accepted money without making any application to the Family Court during the process.

The New Paper understands that what she did may not have been legal.

A spokesman for MSF said: "Adoption is governed under the Adoption of Children Act (ACA). The Family Court is the authority that decides on adoption applications, and prospective adopters must initiate and complete the legal process in adopting a child."

Without the legal process, any voluntary placement of a child with another family would be considered an informal care arrangement, rather than an "illegal" adoption.

It is against the law to pay the adopted child's biological parents. Under the Children and Young Persons Act, offenders can be jailed up to five years, or fined up to $10,000, or both.

PROHIBITED

The MSF spokesman said: "The ACA prohibits any payment or reward to the biological or adoptive parents for the adoption of the child, except with the sanction of the Court. The Court requires the prospective adopters to provide details if there are financial transactions in obtaining the child."

MSF-accredited agencies, such as Touch Family Services and Apkim Centre for Social Services, "offer counselling for the birth parents, as well as facilitate the adoption process and match the child to suitable adopters".

Ms Gloria James, a lawyer with Gloria James-Civetta & Co, said: "Asking for monies would make the adoption 'transaction' illegal, as parties are not supposed to exchange payment.

"Even if no monies have been exchanged, the paperwork must be filed in court. Without a formal adoption, the status of the child (who the child belongs to) would become an issue."

In Caly's case, Ms James said: "The child could be ordered to be returned to the natural parents. If they are not capable of taking care of the child, MSF can put the child under foster care."