Adoption in Seychelles: What you need to know |10 April 2021
Since time immemorial, adoption has been part of the growth of community life. When the parents of a child passed away or the child was being abandoned, often other family members came forward to take care of the child. Adoption is a way of providing the security, permanency and the love of a new family when it is not possible for a child to be raised by his/her birth parents or within the birth family. After adoption, all rights and responsibilities are transferred from the original parents to the adoptive parents. The child assumes the surname of the new parents and becomes a permanent and full member of the new family.
By doing so, having the stability of a forever family gives children the best possible chance of realising their full potential. Adopting a child means committing to that child for life. It’s a way of making a real difference to them, by giving them the love, stability and safe nurturing environment every child deserves.
The talk is ongoing in Seychelles and so many among mothers have thought about adopting a child. In order to understand the adoption procedures in Seychelles, Seychelles NATION had a chat with Beryl Laboudallon, director social services at the social affairs department in the Ministry of Family Affairs.
Seychelles NATION: What does the law say about adoption in Seychelles?
Beryl Laboudallon: An adoption Order is an order that vests the parental rights and duties relating to a child in the adopters. The laws for adoption is found in the Children Act, 1982.
Once a child turns 18, he or she is an adult and cannot be adopted. A single person and married couple aged 21 years old and older can adopt. Same sex couple cannot adopt as the law does not recognise gay marriage.
The adopter may apply to change the names of the child.
It is an offence to offer or receive payments in exchange for a child to be adopted.
An adoption Order shall not be made in Seychelles unless the child is residing in Seychelles. Except with the consent of the President, an adoption Order shall not be made on the application of a single person unless he or she resides in Seychelles.
Except with the consent of the President, an adoption Order shall not be made on the application of a married couple, unless at least one of them is residing in Seychelles.
Seychelles NATION: What is the role of the social services in that process?
Beryl Laboudallon: The social services has long been involved in adoption processes, mainly as the organisation undertaking investigations for the Court after adoption applications had been submitted to Court. It was the Court who instructed the social services to undertake investigations. After some time, the social services saw the need to promote adoption as an approach to offer alternative care to children in need. Hence for about 25 years social services have been assessing prospective adopters and undertaking placement of children with adoptive family.
The social services is the central authority for adoption hence, the social services needs to be notified of all adoption applications. However, it is the Supreme Court which grants an adoption Order.
People who would like to give their child up for adoption, should also notify the social services.
Seychelles NATION: Are there different forms of Adoption?
Beryl Laboudallon: Adoption can take place in different forms, such as: Adoption of a child by other family members or relatives; Step parent adoption, that is the husband (or wife) adopting the child of the wife (or husband) not fathered (or mothered) by him (or her) and Adopting the child of somebody originally unknown to the adoptive parents. This is mostly about children who are in the care of the director of social services.
Seychelles NATION: If you want to adopt a child, what are the criteria should you meet?
Beryl Laboudallon: First of all, persons seeking to adopt must notify the director social services. If a person requests to adopt a child from the social services, an assessment will be carried out to determine suitability. The areas to consider during the assessment are mainly: parenting capacity; family lifestyle; support network; accommodation and neighbourhood; adults and children in the household; financial background; employment status; medical information and police checks.
Then the social services prepare a home study report on the person seeking to adopt. If found eligible to adopt, the prospective adoptive parent is informed accordingly and is placed on the register for prospective adoptive parent. The consent of the natural parents of the prospective adoptive child is sought by the social services, by providing them with details of what adoption entails. The parents have the liberty to withhold their consent. If they do not consent, the social services will still make a decision to place the child with an adoptive family, based on the long-term best interest of the child. The child also undergoes a medical examination.
Upon identification of the child and pre-adoption arrangements made, the child is matched with the prospective adoptive parent followed by monitoring and guidance.
Seychelles NATION: If all goes well, what next?
Beryl Laboudallon: If all goes well, after a period of three months an application for an adoption order is made to the Supreme Court of Seychelles by the prospective adoptive parents.
The Supreme Court instructs the social services to submit a report on the issue. Apart from the points specified above, other elements to determine if the adoption should go through are: the child’s feelings regarding the adoption, if the child is old enough; the natural parent’s feeling and understanding of what an adoption order entails and the social services make the appropriate recommendation to the Court.
- Upon submission of the report, the Supreme Court will fix a hearing date and all parties, including social services (also the child if old enough), have to give evidence under oath.
- The Supreme Court gives its ruling on whether the adoption application has been granted or not.
- The adoptive parents, upon receiving the judgement from the Court, will undertake the necessary processes at Civil Status.
In cases were the prospective adoptive parent already has a child in his or her care, after notifying the social services and assessment conducted, they will be guided about making the application to the Supreme Court. Hence, steps 3 to 7 do not apply.
Seychelles NATION: How many people have applied for adoption in the last two years?
Beryl Laboudallon: From 2019 to 2020, there were 28 adoption applications and 21 were successful. Four applicants were not successful and there are three cases ongoing before the Supreme Court.
From the 28 applications, four placements were made by the social services after all pre-adoption procedures on the part of the prospective adopters and children were met. One of the placements was in 2019 and one in 2020. From the four placements, two have been successful as adoption has been granted and two are ongoing.
Seychelles NATION: Do we allow intercountry adoption?
Beryl Laboudallon: Seychelles is a contracting state to the Hague Adoption Convention, hence entertain intercountry adoption as well but there are strict measures in place to protect the best interest of the child. For instance: for people entering Seychelles with an adoption granted by a Court abroad, the said Order has to be verified by Central Authorities of Seychelles (social services) and that of the country of origin. In some cases, it may necessitate a further Order by the Supreme Court of Seychelles, for it to be recognised locally.
Applicants from overseas have to be assessed by the authorised adoption authorities and certified as being able to adopt internationally by their respective country. Post placements have to be provided to the central authority in Seychelles.
Seychelles NATION: What advice would you give to potential adopters?
Beryl Laboudallon: It is often said that there is no point in adopting as children adopted will one day want to go back to the natural family thus start causing trouble. This is not the absolute truth as in most cases children adopted settle in nicely.
Adoption can be a pleasant and fulfilling experience for both the adopter and the child. We have many happy families that have gone through adoption. Many of them consider the child a blessing.
In Seychelles, we find that children in adoptive family adjust so well that often they are believed to be biological children of the adopter.
Once adopted, the child does not have to be referred as “my adopted child” but “my child”.