Kenya has banned foreigners from adopting local children and will work toward a new policy governing the process, the presidency said on Thursday.
The move follows that of neighboring Ethiopia, which also stopped adoption of children by foreigners in 2018, in an effort to curb trafficking.
The Cabinet has banned with immediate effect adoption of Kenyan children by foreign nationals as the government moves to tame rogue adopters.
A special Cabinet meeting at State House on Thursday also directed the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to formulate a new policy document to regulate the adoption of children by foreign nationals in Kenya, State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena said in a statement.
There have been concerns over the existing loopholes in adoption laws of local children by foreigners with court battles rife on the same.
Most recently, an American couple, Daisy and her husband Matt, won a vicious adoption battle with the State over their procedure of adopting a Kenyan baby.
The baby was handed over to the couple on Wednesday after they were granted legal guardianship by the Nairobi’s Children Court in April 2017.
The matter came to the limelight after detectives from Directorate of Criminal Investigations stormed the residence of the couple and forcefully took the baby away.
The police said the baby was found abandoned as a newborn along with another baby, believed to be his twin.
In August 2015, the High Court stopped two Swedish couples and a Danish couple from taking three Kenyan children out of the country, after it was discovered that the minors were not abandoned orphans but had families.
The couples had been living with the children in Nairobi for months as families of the children searched for their missing minors, only to discover they had been declared abandoned orphans and offered for adoption to the foreigners by local adoption agencies.
Following a review of the adoption process by the Technical Assessment of the Legal Provisions and Practices of Guardianship, Foster Care and Adoption of children by the Government of Kenya and UN children agency Unicef, an adoption moratorium on foreigners was placed by the government in December 2014.
The review showed there were weaknesses in the legal process, which was subject to manipulation leading to commercialisation of adoptions.
Besides the moratorium, the government also revoked the licenses of adoption agencies. In 2015, the government appointed an expert committee to implement the objectives of the moratorium.
In 2017, the committee, in a report presented to President Kenyatta, recommended the freeze to be maintained and that all the Charitable Children’s Institutions (Homes) be closed down.
As a result, the government is not renewing the licenses for the children’s homes, nor licensing new ones.