Adoption is a service which provides parents for children who cannot be brought up by their own families. It is about providing a child with a permanent, loving and legally secure home with parents who are committed to the child’s welfare. The Adoption of Children law (2003 Revision) sets out the procedures for adoption of children. Once an Adoption Order is granted, the adoptive parents become the legal parents of the child and assume all parental rights and responsibilities. Adopting a child can be a most rewarding experience.
Adoptive parents may be married or single, childless or already parenting other children. The requirements outlined in the Adoption Law state a person must be 25 years of age but not over 65. If married, they must have been married and living together for no less than three years. If a person is married but separated, he or she will need the written consent of his or her spouse in order to make an application. The Cayman Islands Adoption law allows non-Caymanians who are domiciled in the Cayman Islands, to make application to adopt.
Contact the Adoption Co-coordinator, Department of Children and Family Services to arrange for an initial interview. This will give you an opportunity to ask questions and provide information about yourself and your reasons for wanting to adopt. The adoption process will be explained and if everything is in order, you will be given the application packet to take away and complete.
When all of the required documents are completed, you should contact the adoption co-coordinator and arrange for a second interview. If everything is in place, the co-coordinator files your application with the Adoption Board. There is a fee of CI$75.00 for processing an application for adoption within the Cayman Islands.
The board will arrange for a home study (assessment) to be carried out by a qualified social worker. The home study consists of several interviews with the adoptive applicants and all members of their household. It is an evaluation of the prospective adoptive family and of the physical and emotional environment into which the child would be placed. During the process, you will, with the social worker’s assistance, consider all aspects of adoptive parenthood and identify the type of child you wish to adopt. When the assessment is completed, the social worker will produce a report for the Board. This report enables the Board to determine whether or not a person should be approved as a prospective adopter.
Be prepared to wait. Adopting a child always requires a waiting period. The Home Study is carried out over a three-month period. It should take approximately five months from the time you make your application until your case is presented to the Board. The second half of the process will take another six to seven months. If however, you are adopting a child from overseas, the complete process could take approximately two years.
If your application is denied, you will be informed of the Board’s reason for their decision. You have the right to appeal against the decision. However, few applications are turned down; the majority receives the Board’s approval. As soon as the Board gives its approval, the focus is then placed on identifying a child who best fits the profile for placement with your family.
After the child is placed with your family, there is a statutory period of three months during which time the family will be visited by a social worker. This is called the supervision period. The social worker will visit several times to ensure that the child is well cared for and that bonding is taking place. At the end of the supervision period, the social worker will write a report for the Court to support your application for the Adoption Order.
When the court supervision report is completed, your application for an Adoption Order will be prepared and your case filed with the Grand Court. A date will be issued for the hearing and summonses will be served on you and all other interested parties to attend court on that date. Apart from the prospective adopters and the child to be adopted, the child’s birth parents (if known) or previous guardian, are required to attend.
When the adoption Order is granted, the adoption is compete. The birth parents no longer have any legal rights to the child and cannot claim the child back. By granting the Order the Court has vested all legal rights and responsibilities for the child to you. You now become the parent of the child.