Adopting a Relative from Jamaica: Am I eligible?

Note: This will be a 2 part series on adopting from Jamaica, and I hope to do other islands and countries where my clients frequently need assistance with as well. I am focusing on relative adoptions--but as this text is mostly adapted from the Department of State Guidelines so this will apply for non-relative adoptions as well.

Jamaica is not a Hague Adoption Convention country, this means that you do not have to follow the process for Hague countries when doing an intercountry adoption from Jamaica. They are processed in accordance with Federal Regulations and the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Jamaica has two types of adoptions:
1. Adoption Licenses: An Adoption License allows you to take a Jamaican citizen child to your country to be adopted in that country. For instance, you could take the Jamaican citizen child to the US to adopt them here. If you are residing in the US and you are not adopting a relative then you will not qualify for an adoption order and you will have to get an adoption license.
2. Adoption Orders: An adoption order is a full and final adoption under Jamaican law. The adoptive parent has to be a Jamaican citizen or reside in Jamaica to qualify for the adoption order. Adoption orders replace the child's birth certificate legally. It shows the date of birth, new parentage and the child's new name. You can also have the child's Jamaican passport changed to reflect the child's new legal name.

There are certain US immigration requirements for intercountry adoptions that are important. You must meet eligibility and suitability requirements to bring an adopted child to the US from a foreign country. The US government determines who can adopt and whether a child meets the definition of an orphan to be eligible to immigrate to the US on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

Jamaica has additional requirements that you will need to meet in order to adopt a child:
1. Residency: You are not required to reside in Jamaica or to attend the court hearing for an adoption license. A judge can request your presence, but otherwise you are not required to attend. You will need to travel to Jamaica to meet with the Child Development Agency and to apply for a visa. For an adoption order, you are required to reside with the child and be supervised by a local social worker for 3+ months before the court will approve the adoption under Jamaican law (this requirement can be waived for Jamaican nationals who are adopting a relative).
2. Age: If you are not related to the child that you want to adopt, then you will need to be age 25 or older. If the child is related as a brother, sister, niece, or nephew to the adoptive parent, then at least one parent needs to be 18 or older. No required age difference between the adoptive child/parent when they are related.
3. Marriage: Single individuals and married couples are allowed to adopt, but same-sex marriages are not recognized. Therefore, a Jamaican court may refuse to provide an Adoption Order or License to a same-sex married couple.
4. Income: You will have to document your financial status, but there is no specific income requirement.
5. Case-by-case analysis: Every adoption is unique, the Child Development Agency and the Jamaican Adoption Board can take your medical considerations into consideration when they evaluate your eligibility to adopt. However, the Department of State's website indicates that it is extremely rare for a prospective parent to be denied due to this.

The child must meet certain specific requirements of Jamaican law to be eligible for adoption. The Jamaican Child Development Agency will assess the child's suitability for adoption by visiting the child's residence and conducting interviews and counseling with the child/birth parents/adoptive parents if necessary.

Here is a list of the requirements as evidenced on the US Department of State's website:
1. Relinquishment: Jamaica requires the birth parents to consent to relinquishing their parental rights or for them to have had their rights terminated before the adoption can be finalized.
3. Age of Adoptive Child: Children are eligible for adoption between the ages of six weeks and 18.
4. Sibling Adoptions: There is no provision prioritizing sibling placement for family unity purposes but the Child Development Agency and Adoption Board are willing to work with prospective adoptive parents to place siblings together.
5. Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Children need a medical examinations in Jamaica by a registered Jamaican medical practitioner before the adoption can be approved. This is specifically for the adoption, there will need to be a separate medical examination for the immigrant visa later on.
There is no need for abandonment or for a waiting period or foster care.

Part two coming in a few days. As always, if you have any questions feel free to call me or email me.