Bill tabled to protect adopted children from exploitation, abuse

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Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud on Wednesday, presented the Adoption of Children (Amendment) Bill to the National Assembly of the Twelfth Parliament.

The amendment of the Act will provide for the insertion of the new Second Schedule of the Principal Act – Hague Convention of May 19, 1993, on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. It will allow for more scrutiny regarding international adoption to protect the nation’s children from exploitation, trafficking and abuse.

Among other things, the Act will provide for a home study report on prospective adoptive parents to be conducted by the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security. These include criminal checks and a full, complete statement of all facts relevant to the eligibility of the prospective parents under the Hague Convention.

In October, Minister Persaud installed the Adoption Board which immediately began working to clear the backlog of adoption cases.

Dr. Persaud, in a recent interview with DPI, said the Government halted international adoption because Guyana was not complying with its obligations as a signatory to the Hague Convention.

She said once the legislation is amended, international adoption will resume and all international guidelines will be followed to ensure adopted children are placed in a safe and comfortable environment.

The Childcare and Protection Agency in its annual review on adoption, stated that 40 adoption cases were processed this year. Twenty-three of these cases were approved by the current, and past, Adoption Board, which comprises 19 local and four overseas-based Guyanese. Two cases were deferred and 15 awaiting legal documents.

Additionally, the CPA developed a plan for the adoption of older children and children with special needs who are in Residential Care.

The Adoption service is one of the substitutive alternative care services provided for children as part of the obligation of the Childcare and Protection Agency. It is legal and is designed to be the final/permanent family-based care option for children who have suffered abuse, loss of parents or can no longer remain with their biological parents.