By Tina Auta
Abuja – Mrs Agnes Utah-Hart, the Director, Gender Development Department, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has advised applicants seeking to adopt babies to exercise patience, follow due and legal processes to adopt and foster children.
She gave the advice in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.
According to her, applicants need to exercise patience as adoption requires administrative and legal processes.
She explained that all that was required from an applicant was a handwritten application addressed to the Secretary, Social Development Secretariat.
Utah-Hart said that “adoption falls under child welfare in the FCT. Commencement for fostering or adoption in the FCT is in the family court and every applicant goes to the family court to interface and a slip is issued.
“It is with that slip that the prospective applicant picks an adoption form free of charge and fills it up correctly, providing information like date of birth and birth certificate or declaration of age, two recent passport-size photographs, marriage certificate, evidence of income, medical certificate of fitness.
“A letter of consent and affidavit showing that all documents given to are authentic and in the event that any information is found to be false, the application is rejected.’’
The director said that at least 500 persons apply for adoption in the FCT annually, adding that the number was more than the available and eligible babies for adoption or fostering.
“We receive applications for adoption daily: the issue is that there is high demand for adoption of babies in the FCT.”
She explained that “when you visit an orphanage, you will see so many children, but not all are for fostering and adoption. Most of them have relations butare kept there, pending when their parents are stabilised.”
She said that the number of children eligible for adoption in orphanages were not many, noting that the police must have been involved and must have done all their investigation and checks and no one came to lay claims.
On the issue of delay in adoption, she explained that unavailability of babies, not meeting the criteria for the adoption and the legal process were factors affecting the process.
“If a couple applies for adoption and it is taking one year, it is in order. Those applying must be patient.
“The delay is both ways, some of the applicants will apply and forget about it by trying other places and keep saying that they have submitted their applications for some years.
“Some others will follow up and stop, some do not have the requirements, which might be missing in their file without proper address or phone number to contact them.
“We have a record and data of all those who applied to adopt a child and we work with the list; so, we call them to ask if they are still interested, some decline without even informing us.”
She reiterated the commitment of the FCT Administration to take care of abandoned babies so they could have meaningful lives.