Adopting a child
“A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families." Psalms 68:5-6a
Adoption from the Public System is initiated at the Child and Family Protection Services Agency (CFPSA). This will allow you to adopt a child of the State. These children are kept at homes throughout the country until they are adopted. You will be required to complete an application and a medical report and await approval. Once you are approved you will be sent a formal application package. Once you have completed all requirements you be given a receipt for your application and assigned a case number and a Case Worker who will take the process forward. If you are requesting a child this can take up to five years or more. If you have already identified a child, for instance, if you were already a foster parent or guardian for the child, then this process will take a shorter time. Once you have been matched with a child you will be expected to keep the child for a period of no less than three months before making an application for an adoption order. During this period you will be observed and visited by an agent of the board at least once per month. After the completion of the three month period you may indicate if you wish to go forward or not. If you are going forward an application to the Court for a formal Adoption Order will be made.
There is no Private adoption system in Jamaica. However a “Private adoption” can take place where the parties involved are directly in contact with each other and have decided to go forward. The main difference will be that you do not have to wait to be matched with a child which is the longest part of the process when applying through the public system. You will still need to apply to the Adoption board and go through the process of approval, fulfilling their requirements. Once you have done so your Application to the Court along with a Certificate of the parent or guardian of the child and a statement regarding the identity of the child ( Form C) from the Adoption board can be filed for the award of an Adoption Order.
If you are not resident in Jamaica and are interested in adopting a child from Jamaica you must be a citizen of a Commonwealth Caribbean country, The United States of America, Sweden or Denmark. You will first need to receive approval from the Adoption board which will require you sending in an application and await approval, then once you are approved a complete package will be sent to you with further requirements. Once you have completed this process you will be given a receipt, a case number and a case worker to correspond with. During this time your will need to get a home study done and for the US you will need to get USCIS approval. If you are requesting to be matched with a child this can take up to 5 yrs or more, if you already have a child you want to adopt then this will make the process go faster. There are two ways to adopt a child from Jamaica internationally, by applying for an adoption license or by doing an adoption order. An Adoption License allows you to take the child from Jamaica to your country and complete the process of adoption. This is convenient for most as it only requires two visits to the country to complete the process. On the other hand you can apply for an Adoption Order which is the completion of adoption in Jamaica, however you would be required to be in Jamaica for a period of three months with the child where you will be supervised before the application for adoption can be made.
How do I know adopting a child is right for me?
Adoption is a beautiful institution that allows the creation of loving families but this is not always how it is perceived. You must therefore make this decision informed and ready to tackle the challenges that will arise from the way you have chosen or that chose you to build your family.
Why do you want to adopt a child?
There are several reasons people decide to adopt a child, so firstly you should know your why? Adoption should not be seen as a last resort and be entered into resentfully, it should not be something you settle for. It is a loving way to expand your family and should be considered as such. You should know that this is a choice you have made because you believe it to be beautiful. So if this is not how you feel about it you may do better not getting into it. Also, be careful of wanting to adopt to give back to society, or because you are lonely. These reasons can be selfish and ultimately backfire. If you are adopting to give back to society you may be expecting people to praise you and the child to feel overly grateful and be perfect because of the great thing you have done for them. This is not good for you or the child and so avoid adoption if this is your “why.” Similarly adopting a child because you are lonely or depressed and hoping having a child will change this is also not a good reason. If you are lonely this will affect your mood and ability to emotionally connect with your child. You will need to be emotionally strong and ready to take on challenges, so it is best to get there before deciding to adopt. Whatever your reason, be honest with yourself. Once you reasons surrounds the wellness of the child, adoption may be right for you!
Will you be able to love this child as your own?
In your mind and in your heart you should know that there is no going back. Whatever challenges come along with raising your child are yours to keep and you need to be prepared to embrace that. There is no room to blame the biological parents or to resent them, there is no room to allow yourself to second guess your decision to adopt. You need to know that you can in fact take this step as if it were the same as delivering a baby and carrying them home because that is the effect of adoption. The truth is biological child or not, you really never know what faces you down the road but your commitment to face it as a parent to your child must be solid and unwavering. However adopting a child is most often more of a choice, so just take your time, think about it. Are you all the way in for the ride?
How much do I need to know before I decide?
For some people, we can never know enough and for others you just want to jump in. Well either can lead you to the wrong place and be detrimental to your journey. You do need to make sure you have done sufficient research to ensure you understand the process of adoption, the costs related, the likely hurdles and what the journey will be like especially in the first couple years. This will help you to prepare emotionally and mentally for the road ahead and as a result be able to face it with grit and tenacity. However you do not need to go overboard and try to know everything, everyone’s situation is unique and so there will always be unknowns no matter how much you research so be prepared to accept that. So here is the simple answer, you only need to know the process of adoption and the most common challenges that may arise before during and after adopting. A support group will be a wonderful thing to join to help you with this as things will arise on various parts of your journey.
Giving up a child for adoption
"God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure." Ephesians 1:5, NLT
The CFPSA is the only system in Jamaica to which one can turn once they have decided to give up their child for adoption. Once you have done this, you will be presented with a form indicating the implications of your decision and you will need to sign another form indicating you understand the implications of your decision. Thereafter, you will hand the child over to the CFSPA and the child will remain in state care until they are adopted. Once the State has taken your child there will match the child with a family that is on a list of persons desiring to adopt a child. This is a presumably long list of persons who have been pre-approved as being able to care for the needs of a child. The child will then be allowed to reside with that family. After a period of three months, if the person has bonded with your child, they will indicate that they wish to go forward with the process of adoption and you will be called upon to indicate to the court that you consent to this adoption.
There is no official private system through which you can give up your child for adoption. Therefore private adoption can only take place where you have identified an individual or couple that you consider suitable to adopt your child and they agree to do so. In this circumstance the CFPSA will still need to approve the adoptive family. Once they have received approval, an application can be made to the court accompanied by your consent and a certificate from the Adoption Board. This is a much shorter process and in this case your child can either remain with you or with the adoptive family until the process is complete.
International adoption can take place through the public system or be done privately. The adoptive parent(s) will need to acquire a license to carry the child abroad and thereafter complete the process of adoption in that country. This is possible for all Commonwealth Caribbean countries, The United States of America, Sweden and Denmark. Alternatively the adoptive parents can apply for an adoption order but will need to reside in Jamaica for a period of three months with the child while under the supervision of the CFPSA.
How do I know if giving up my child is the right thing to do?
This may be one of the most difficult decisions you ever have to make, and so you must do so by carefully considering all your options and being honest with yourself. Take your time, do not rush the process of deliberation, allow yourself to ask the same thing multiple times because as things progress the answers may change. Some of the things you will need to consider is:
1. Are both biological parents in agreement?
This is one of the most important considerations. If both biological parents are not in agreement the adoption cannot go through. There are exceptions to this, namely if the other parent is deceased, if they are unable to give consent by reason of mental illness, if they cannot be located or if they are withholding consent unreasonably. Outside of those exceptions, where one parent is willing to raise the child, that parent must be given the opportunity to do so and the court will not award an adoption in that circumstance.
2. Would my family offer help with this child or am I really on my own?
It is important not to make this decision on your own. Having discussions with your family will help to clarify the situation and your options. Many times you feel that you will be all alone because of previous statements that have been made but the reality of a child very often changes hearts and minds and so give your family the opportunity to weigh in. Be careful however, do not involve too many family members and remember to filter what is being said because ultimately the responsibility of this child and the decision is yours to live with.
3. Can I come up with a realistic plan to support and care for my child?
By no means do you have to have everything figured out, but there is a reason you are considering giving your child up for adoption and it might be because you think you cannot effectively support your child. So before you make the final decision I challenge you to try to come up with a plan. Your child will have physical, psycho-social and emotional needs, there is no one way to cater to those needs, and you do not have to be able to do so in the most ideal way. You just need to consider these things with your current situation and how it allows you to cater to those needs or not. Where it does not allow you to, then ask yourself: Can you get a second job? Can you move back in with your parents? Can you ask a family member or friend to look after the child while you are at work? Can you make some lifestyle changes that will free up your time and finances for the child? Whatever your unique situation, allow yourself to really try to figure how you can overcome it. It is important for you to give yourself this challenge so that when you make your decision you know you did so thoughtfully.
4. Do I feel any emotional connection to this child?
This may be a surprising question to some, but the reality is many parents do not feel emotionally connected to their child. I will not attempt to explain this. But I don’t believe this is something someone can force and I also do not believe in shaming someone for lacking this connection. If a choice were possible we would choose to have what we believe is a natural reaction to a child. Well let me first say that your reaction is natural, because you are having it and you need to be honest about it. For some a connection will come later, maybe when you first see your child or when you first hold your child, but for some it does not come and for this child a lifelong feeling of neglect and lack of love will follow. One can certainly receive healing through God, and his agents of emotional healing like psychotherapists but if you are not ready to put in the work then this will not happen. On the other hand, if you do have an emotional connection to the child, you need to consider if you are truly capable of loving this child form afar. Can you give up a child you love so dearly already, never see them again, have no role or a very limited role in their life? Once again, be honest with yourself.
5. Do I believe that I am to be the parent of this child?
Yes you are the biological parent of this child, but are you meant to be this child’s caretaker? It does not make sense at first, some persons believe that if God causes you to be pregnant you are automatically the intended parent of the child. But we have seen that this is not always the case as in the story of Hannah. (See my article on a Christian view on Adoption and Surrogacy for a more detailed analysis.) If you are considering giving up this child for adoption, perhaps it is because you have pondered this question or perhaps you did not allow yourself to when it came up in your head. Well I believe it is a legitimate question that helps you to make the right decision. If you ask this question and your know the answer is yes, then you can hold on to it, through it all. But if you know the answer is no, then you are free to let go of your child and allow them to go to the family they belong.
6. Who am I thinking about when I consider giving up this child?
Your child deserves the best! In all your consideration, always keep the perspective of what is in the best interest of your child. If you do this, you will make the right decision.
It is best to explore these questions with an experienced Psychologist. If you would like us to recommend one, please contact us.
Help us advocate for you.
This page only serves to provide information regarding Adoption in Jamaica. We do not offer these services as they are not currently available through private facilities. However, if you are already in the process we are able to help you.