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 Post subject: Inter-country Adoption of Sri Lanka Children
 Post Posted: Thu May 11, 2006 6:23 am 
Inter-country Adoption of Sri Lanka Children

Lawyers demand to strengthen laws regarding foreign adoption of children

By Dholani Mawalage
DM /11May2006



Lawyers for Human Rights and Development insist that measures be taken to strengthen further the laws with regard to adoption of children by foreigners saying that there have been a 300 percent increase in such adoptions in year 2004 when compared to 1999.

Its Director Kalyananda Thiranagama launching a study report on Tuesday on “Inter-country Adoption of Sri Lanka Children,” alleged that about 90 percent of children were given for foreign adoption at a time when thousands of local applicants are in the waiting list for months and years in the Department of Probation and Child Care.

According to 1992 amendments to Child Adoption Ordinance a child could be given to a foreigner for adoption only if a Sri Lankan citizen resident and domiciled in the country had not applied to adopt a child.

This was done by one state run and four voluntary children’s homes at a time when there were eight state run and 225 voluntary registered children homes.

The spokesman said due to this situation amendments were brought to the Adoption of Children Ordinance in 1992. As a result the number of foreign adoptions sharply decreased. In 1991 it was 789 children and in 1992 it was only 396. And by year 1999 it had come down to 23 children.

“But the number of foreign adoptions has shown an increase again gradually. In the year 2000, children given for foreign adoption again increased to 43.In the years 2001, 2002 , 2003 , 2004 and 2005 the number of children were 51, 55, 54, 69, 35 respectively.

“It is strange that four registered non government organizations have a history of involvements in baby farming to supply children to foreigners. After amendments in 1992 came into force” he said and alleged that the “same group of lawyers and foreign collaborators are involved even today in foreign adoption.”

Mr. Thiranagama said although there was a substantial decrease in the number of foreign adoptions with the 1992 amendments to the Ordinance on adoption of children, still the so called ‘baby farms’ were continuing.

In year 2003 there were 54 cases and 26 were followed up. Of these seven cases had no progress report and in one case only one report was sent. In 2004 it was 69 cases and 36 cases were followed and six cases had no progress report and in the year 2005 it was 35 cases and only 17 cases had been followed.

The research study on the changes that should take place in laws regarding the number of children to be given for foreign adoption recommended to end the monopoly enjoyed by the five privileged homes. There was no reason or justification to select children only from one state and four voluntary homes.

The Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services Sarath Abeygunawardana said only one state children’s home and four voluntary homes have the facility to provide accommodation and take care of unwed women who have become pregnant. These homes take care of women coming mostly from Free Trade Zone, the pregnant women returning from Middles East or women who were raped by their own relatives. There are instances where measures were taken to settle unwed mothers with their husbands. It was the government’s responsibility to provide protection to such mothers and these institutions were performing that work.

Referring to other homes he said that most of the children in them, are there due to poverty of their parents. Both parents of those children are known unlike those in five other homes.Mr. Abeygunawardana admitted that measures should be taken to reduce the loop holes in the laws on adoption and expressed satisfaction on Sri Lanka situation comparing to Pakistan. He said that according to general rules applicable to all adoptions through District Court. and in his study has considered 107 cases out of 209 foreign adoption case records completely. These cases supported in Colombo, Mt. Lavinia and Kandy Districta courts between year 2002 to 2005.


____________________________________________

SRI LANKAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
The government office responsible for adoptions in Sri Lanka is the Department of Probation and Child Care Services, 95 Sir Chittampalam Gardiner Mawtha, P O Box 546, Colombo 02, Sri Lanka.
Telephone No. 94-1-327600 or 94-1-448577, Fax No. 94-1-327600.
The Department's hours of operation are from 8.30 a.m. to 4.15 p.m.

Every application for adoption must be in conformity with the provisions of the Adoption of Children's Ordinance (Chapter 61) as amended as it relates to restricts in making of adoption orders, terms and conditions of adoption orders and court requirements.

SRI LANKAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES:
The District Court of Colombo and the District Court of Colombo South that have the appropriate jurisdiction, are empowered to make orders of adoption of Sri Lankan children by persons not resident and domiciled in Sri Lanka. Foreign applicants cannot find children for adoption privately. Allocation of children can only be made from the Sri Lankan State Receiving Homes and Voluntary Children's Homes that are registered by the Department of Probation and Child Care Services for over five years and only by specific authorization of the Commissioner of Probation.

The formal application should be in the form of a letter, in duplicate, addressed to the Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services. The letter should request a child for adoption and include any preferences, if any. Attach passport-sized photographs of both prospective parents to the letter.

Every page of the formal application must be authenticated by the local Sri Lankan Embassy and bear its official stamp. The Sri Lankan Embassy must also authenticate all of the supporting documents.

The Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services receives the application and it has to be registered with the Department for at least one year for a child to be allocated by the Commissioner.

If the home study report is satisfactory and the Commissioner finds that a suitable child is available for adoption, a letter of allocation will be sent to the Sri Lankan adoption agency who will in turn advise the prospective parents of the Commissioner's decision.

Children below 3 months will not be permitted to be adopted by foreign nationals. Also the Sri Lankan law does not permit a single parent to adopt a child.

Upon receipt of the Commissioner's letter, the prospective parents should make arrangements to travel to Sri Lanka. Expect to stay at least 4 to 5 weeks since court action for an adoption must take place in Sri Lanka. Make contact with your Embassy in Sri Lanka soon after your arrival to make sure that everything is in order for the processing of an immigrant visa and to obtain additional information on adoption procedures.

On arrival in Sri Lanka, contact the social worker assigned to the case by the Commissioner of Probation & Child Care Services to schedule an interview at the Department of Probation and Child Care Services. Present yourself for interview at the Department of Probation and Child Care Services with your passport and letter of allocation.

After the interview, the prospective parents will be issued a letter from the Commissioner authorizing them to see the child at the specified children's home. However, the applicants will not be allowed to take the child out of the custody of the person in charge for any purpose without the prior approval of the Commissioner. Authority can be given to the applicants for the purpose of medical examination of the child.

Engage a Sri Lankan attorney to represent you at the legal proceedings. The attorney will petition for the adoption. The Commissioner furnishes a report on the social and psychological aspects of the adoption for consideration of the Court. The period fixed by the Court for the submission of the Commissioner's report shall be not less than 14 days and not more than 28 days from the date on which the Court calls for the report. The Commissioner is required to annex his or her report to the authenticated home study report. If all is in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations, the court issues an order of adoption.

Obtain the Certificate of Adoption using the adoption order from the courts by registering it with the Registrar General. After the court's adoption order is made, copies may be obtained by making an application to the court. The adoption is considered complete after registration and a copy of the Certificate of Adoption has been obtained from the Registrar-General, located at R.A. de Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka.

Obtain a Sri Lankan passport for the adopted child. Return to the Commissioner with a copy of the Certificate of Adoption and ask for a letter requesting issuance of a passport. With the Certificate of Adoption, the letter from the Commissioner, and the original birth certificate of the child, apply for the Sri Lankan passport. Applications for Sri Lankan passports should be made to the Department of Immigration and Emigration (Passport Section), Station Road, Colombo 4, Sri Lanka.

Present the Sri Lankan passport, the certificate of adoption and all the other documents required for the immigrant visa at your Embassy.

Adoptive parents should furnish the Department of Probation and Child Care Services quarter yearly Progress Reports on the child prepared by a recognized Adoption Agency until the adoption is legally confirmed in their country of domicile, half-yearly reports on the child (together with photographs) for the first three years, and yearly reports thereafter until the child reaches the age of 10 years.

The applicants should abstain from making any payment or giving any reward to any person in consideration of the adoption except such as the Court may sanction. Legal action would be taken against those who commit this offence.

AGE AND CIVIL STATUS REQUIREMENTS:
Under Sri Lankan law adoption by single persons is not permitted. An application for adoption to the courts must be made jointly by husband and wife. Each of the applicants must be over the age of 25 years and not less than 21 years older than the child for whom the application is made. Both husband and wife must be present during the court proceedings unless the court waives personal appearances on the grounds of ill health supported by a medical practitioner. In such cases a power of attorney will also be necessary.

RESIDENTIAL REQUIREMENTS:
The adoptive parents should be prepared to stay for a period of about 4 weeks for the court procedures to be finalized. Once an IV is issued the child could leave the country the very next day.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
UNDER SRI LANKAN LAW, WHILE FOREIGN NATIONALS ARE RESIDING IN SRI LANKA THEY CANNOT ADOPT A SRI LANKAN CHILD.

ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:
Foreign applicants cannot find children for adoption privately. Allocation of children can only be made from the Sri Lankan State Receiving Homes and Voluntary Children's Homes that are registered by the Department of Probation and Child Care Services for over five years and only by specific authorization of the Commissioner of Probation.

SRI LANKAN DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS:
Final Adoption Decree issued by the District Court, birth certificate issued to the biological parents or hospital records and medical reports issued by the Embassy panel physician.

AUTHENTICATION PROCESS:
All documents above must be authenticated. Generally, civil records, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates must bear the seal of the issuing office. Then it must be authenticated by the Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate in your country. Check with the Sri Lanka Embassy or Consulate in your country to see what seals and signatures the Consulate can authenticate. It may be possible to eliminate some of the steps if the Consulate has the seal of the local issuing authority on file.

Tax returns, medical reports and police clearances should likewise be authenticated, beginning with the seal of notary public or some appropriate issuing office. The document should then be authenticated the Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate.


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