A synopsis of the adoption procedure and legal framework in Uganda.

‘’Embarking on the rollercoaster ride of parenthood is like stepping onto a dance floor where every move counts. Imagine you, the lead dancer, grooving to the beat of life. But what happens when the music takes an unexpected turn, leading you to question the very steps of parental rights and adoption.’’ In a recent ruling in the Matter of a Petition for Adoption in Respect of 2 males aged 20 years and 17 years (HCAC No. 04 of 2024); Hon. Lady Justice Celia Nagawa of the High Court of Uganda (Family Division) clarified on the prerequisites and procedures for adoption in Uganda provided for under the Children’s Act chapter 59. Persons interested in adopting a child must first obtain an adoption order from court, which grants them parental responsibility over the child. A child need not be Ugandan in order to be adopted in Uganda. Where the Applicant and child are both Ugandan citizens, the Application is made to the Chief Magistrate’s Court where either the Applicant or the child resides; and where either the child or the applicant are non-citizens, the application is to be made to the High Court. An application for adoption may be deemed void for not meeting the following criteria: • The prospective adoptee must be below 18 years of age. • The applicant must have reached the age of 25 years and be at least 21 years older than the child. • The applicant is only eligible to adopt a child of the same sex as the child, unless the court is convinced of special circumstances. • The application will not be considered unless the applicant has provided foster care for the child for a minimum period of 36 months under the supervision of a probation and social welfare officer who then drafts a detailed report of observations of the child under the care of the prospective adopter to guide the court in making its decision. Do biological parents lose their parental rights when they give up their child for adoption? According to the 9th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary; as cited by the High Court, adoption creates a parent-child relationship by a judicial order between two parties who are not related by blood creating a lifelong relationship of parenthood between a child and the adoptive. Therefore, adoption terminates the biological parent’s legal relationship with the child, and the adoptive parent becomes the child’s legal parent vested with parental responsibility over that child as if the child had been born their natural legitimate child. In conclusion, this landmark decision establishes a precedent, emphasizing the paramount importance of the child’s best interests in adoption proceedings. The ruling serves as a guiding tool, shaping the landscape of Family law, and provides an opportunity for the child to embrace and appreciate a new chapter of parenthood.

Authored By C. Denise Leuden Nasasira