Who Can Be Adopted from Ghana

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Fishing village on the Cape Coast

The Department of Social Welfare determines whether or not a child is eligible for adoption under Ghanaian law. For a child to be eligible, he or she must meet at least one of the below criteria:

1. There is no known family for the child,
2. No family is available or capable of taking care of the child,
3. The child’s family is unwilling to take care of the child, or
4. The courts have terminated parental rights for reasons of abuse or neglect.

In cases where the family is unwilling or incapable of caring for the child, parents must relinquish their parental rights under the Ghanaian legal system. In cases where the family of the child is unknown, reasonable efforts must be made to locate the family for a period of at least three months. If the family remains unknown after three months, the Department of Social Welfare may determine that the child is eligible for adoption.

NOTE: In Ghana, birth parents who relinquish or abandon their child(ren) may change their mind at any point in the adoption process prior to the final adoption order, and in such cases it is possible that the Department of Social Welfare and the Ghanaian court will reverse their adoptability finding and/or adoptive placement decisions.

Relinquishment: The Department of Social Welfare determines the validity of a relinquishment. The relinquishment of parental rights means the parent(s) decide they do not want to or cannot take care of the child and have decided to let the Department of Social Welfare find other parent(s). Whatever the reason, they are taken through a series of counseling sessions to ensure they understand the implications of the decision. If the birth parents decide to continue with the relinquishment, they must execute an affidavit providing consent for their decision to have the child adopted. In some cases a pregnant mother will notify the Department of Social Welfare of an unwanted pregnancy and ask to give the child up for adoption after delivery. These mothers have the right to change their minds after they give birth, but if they decide to relinquish the child, they are also required to give formal consent before a notary public.

Abandonment: In the Ghana, legal abandonment means the parent(s) voluntarily leaves the child and does not return.

Age of Adoptive Child: In Ghana, a child is adoptable until he or she becomes an adult at 18 years of age.

Sibling Adoptions: The Department of Social Welfare makes every effort to ensure siblings are adopted together. It discourages splitting siblings for adoption, except under special circumstances.

Special Needs or Medical Conditions: The Department of Social Welfare determines whether children with special needs or medical issues are available for adoption. In these cases, it may be easier to waive the three-month trial period, particularly if there is a need for immediate medical attention.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In Ghana, as in many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or a children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.

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