Temporary hold placed on adoptions in SVG to be lifted
October 28, 2016
Temporary hold placed on adoptions in SVG to be lifted

The temporary hold placed on adoptions in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) since last July will soon be lifted, as the review of the new procedures and regulations has finally been completed and they are being implemented.

And as a result, persons with pending adoptions can look forward to the process moving forward.{{more}}

In an interview on Tuesday, Frederick Stephenson, Minister of National Mobilization, Social Development, the Family, Persons with Disabilities and Youth, said that it has been a long process, but families with pending adoptions will soon be able to take home their children once they (the parents) have everything in place.

Stephenson explained that a new Adoption Bill was passed in 2010 and as a result, a number of new regulations and procedures had to be put in place. A new adoption committee also had to be formed.

The new regulations were published in the Government Gazette last week, while the adoption committee is expected to be sworn in next week. Members will take an oath of secrecy that will also help move the process forward.

The Minister said that the process took a long time because a number of things had to be done.

“You had to ensure that you have all the necessary regulations… we had to be careful with the issue of trafficking in persons and all of those things and … the Government has been passing quite a lot of laws and you know that the Attorney-General’s chambers may have some shortcomings with staff and so on, but we have come a long way,” said Stephenson.

He noted also that the Government was trying to get all the legislation in place that would strengthen the Child Care and Adoption Act, as this act forms part of a series of law reform programmes in the OECS, called the OECS Family Law and Domestic Violence Reform Project.

The Minister said that there are four pieces of legislation that make up this project. These are: the Child Care and Adoption Act, the Status of Children Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Juvenile Justice Act. All of these complement each other.

“We had to try get all the pieces together and get them into Parliament, so it was a lengthy process,” stressed Stephenson, who revealed that the Adoption Committee will be headed by the director of Family Affairs, Anastacia Harry.

Other committee members will come from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Salvation Army and the St Benedict’s Day Nursery.

The issue of the stalled adoption process was highlighted on October 18 through a Facebook post made by lawyer Vynnette Frederick, who said that she had a number of clients who started the adoption process and have been on hold, some for as long 19 months.

She described the delay in getting adoptions before the court as, “disgraceful, unacceptable, pathetic and an insult to every person who has applied to adopt and has had to wait more than a year for the situation to be remedied.”

“… it is clear to anyone looking on that this is not a priority to the Government, not a priority to the Attorney-General, not a priority to the Adoption Committee, not a priority to anyone with the authority to get something done”, Frederick had stated, adding that she had written to the Attorney-General Judith Jones-Morgan since March of this year and her letter was not acknowledged.

In relation to the process moving forward, Frederick said on Tuesday that she was extremely happy that everything is now in place, and declared that she is looking forward to … hopefully bringing her clients’ adoptions to fruition.

She had initially stated that children who are being fostered (some for local and others for overseas adoptions) are getting older, their parents have submitted applications and their pockets are not limitless in their depth.

“They want their sons and daughters and they want them yesterday,” Frederick had stated, adding that she had also written to Minister Stephenson.

A United States based family, who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT on Monday, said that they were matched with their baby boy before he was born, but still have not been able to get him, although he was born in March 2015. The family said that the paperwork started in April 2015 and the process has been a discouraging one, but they will not give up.

“We are not new to international adoption, but it is not very easy to watch your child grow up through pictures and to know that he could have lived at home a year ago. It’s just heartbreaking and it’s been the hardest year of my life,” said the mother, who noted that her family had journeyed to St Vincent last October only to hear that the adoption was being held up and had to leave without their baby.

“I would love to get him by the end of the year…,” said the US resident, who revealed that they heard about St Vincent’s adoption from another couple that lives in the USA.

She said that the new adoption laws in the US set limits about where they could go to adopt a child and after hearing that there was a need in St Vincent for families, they decided to go ahead and get on a waiting list.

She said that the child is currently with foster parents who have been good about sending pictures and keeping in contact with her.

“I talk to her (the foster mother) every week to find out how he is doing. We are totally ready to take him, absolutely. It has been 19 months and we have been trying since he was born. We love the country; we have been there twice and we are anxious to get him home,” said the US based mother.(LC)