According to historical facts, adoption has its roots in the United States of America.
When the first settlers arrived in the New World, they were confronted by wars, poverty, diseases and other tragedies, as a result of which they were compelled to leave countless children orphaned.
The statute governing adoption was first passed in Massachusetts in 1851 and it required that judges determine “if adoptive parents had consent from the adoptee’s guardian or parent, sufficient ability to bring up the child, and that it was fit and proper that such adoption should take place”.
In Ghana, while some people go through the rigorous processes of adoption, others go round the laid down procedures and negotiate with parents directly or through some unscrupulous persons who act as agents and middlemen, including operators of orphanages who give out children for adoption for a fee.
It is unfortunate that all sorts of people are taking advantage of the offer of children for adoption because it is seen to have become so lucrative and has, as such, attracted persons who are reaping where they have not sown.
However, it is gratifying to note that these violations have caught the attention of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, which has oversight responsibility over adoption and as it relates especially to foreign couples.
In May this year, the ministry placed an embargo on adoption and promised to sanitise the process to ensure that all the activities that concerned adoption were undertaken in a very transparent manner in consonance with the legal regime pertaining in the country.
It is alarming that over the last three years (2009, 2010 and 2011), out of the 1,179 children who were officially given out for adoption, 823 were taken out of the country to foreign lands (see story on page 27).
It is the conviction of The Mirror that all the loopholes that have been identified by the ministry which are militating against an otherwise humane venture must be plugged and the culprits who are found guilty dealt with according to the laws of the land.
In addition, the statute that excludes gay and lesbian couples from adopting from Ghana must be strictly enforced.
In the view of The Mirror, it is time all the miscreants who have turned themselves into humanists and are running orphanages were screened and the bad lots flushed out.
We would also want to entreat UNICEF to deepen its collaboration with the ministry and step up the protection of children who are currently being adopted through the inter-country adoption process.
Our Children’s Act also needs to be specific on the adoption process and spell out who can adopt a child in Ghana. This will enhance the protection of vulnerable children and avoid situations where Ghanaian children are adopted for exploitative purposes.