Ethiopian Legal Brief

Foster Family and Domestic Adoption Service Directive No. 48/2020

Issuing Authority: F.D.R.E Ministry of Women, Children and Youth

PART 1

General Provisions

1.   Preamble

Whereas, it’s found to be necessary to establish strategy for fostering and adopting those children locally, in order to implement the promise made by the government to use various alternative as per the FDRE Constitution and detail laws in supporting and providing care to children who have lost their family due to various reasons and children living under difficult circumstances;

Whereas, although there is basic principles of adopting children pursuant to the revised family code, since there is no significant directive to execute this principle, it is found necessary that its implementation is not coordinated and installed properly therefore adopting directives to coordinate the adoption implementation straightforward, sustainable and legal.

Whereas, its significant to formulate directive as per the Child Right Convention and African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which is ratified by Ethiopia to authorize domestic adoption and foster family to raise children as safe.

Whereas, it is necessary to issued directives to avoid domestic adoption implementation problems and to establish proper follow up and supportive supervision.

Now therefore, the Ministry of Women Children and Youth has issued this directive.

2.  Definitions

In this Directive, unless the context otherwise requires:

3.   Objective

The main objective of this directive is to undertake foster care and domestic adoption, which was previously inconsistently performed by governmental or non-governmental organizations, to execute consistently.

4.  Importance

  1. By coordinating the society resource and preparing adoption and foster care programs in relation to vulnerable children with safe guardian family so as to allow children safely raise in their country knowing their norm, values and culture to get care from their safe guardian family temporarily or permanently.
    1. It has necessary to establish uniform, standard, transparent and accountable procedure insuring the service provided by foster care and domestic adoption institutions and stakeholders in sustainable manner
      1. This directive further aimed to provide proper execution procedures providing alternative child care and service delivery program so as to facilitate the potential family properly secure and raise vulnerable children through foster care and domestic adoption.

5.  Scope of Application

  1. This directive shall apply in foster and adoptive family, foster and adoptive child in addition to apply appropriate Federal Government intuitions and charity organizations authorize to perform foster and adoption services as per the Federal Government.
  2. Based on this directive, regions and city administration may prepare own directive taking in to account their context.

Section 2 FOSTER FAMILY CARE

6.  Eligibility of a Child

  1. Children listed under article 2 (6) of this directive shall be benefited.
    1. Without prejudges of sub article (1) this Article, unless the alternatives indicated under Article 2 sub-Article (6) (G) & (H), children may become beneficiary.

7.  Functions of The Institutions

  1. The institutions shall have responsibility to conduct awareness program by using various social structural framework at every level to allow children raises under family environment and the reason for necessity to local alternative child care services.
    1. In accordance with Sub- Article 1 of this Article such program shall be undertaken considering vulnerable children to get proper support and to close the attitudinal gaps with in the society.
    1. The institutions shall have responsibility to prepare registration form and to fill by potential families. The registration must also include the following sequence and procedure.
      1. Potential families clearly stated their needs, including age, gender, health status and other conditions of the child.
      1. The responsible officer and verified person name, signature and date shall indicate in the form.
    1. Before the placement of the child who attain 5 year of age, the institution shall prepare psychological readiness of the child and knowing the services provided by foster family care.

8.  Eligibility Requirements for Foster Family

In order to authorize foster family raise foster child under their custody must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. They must have Ethiopian nationality and solely reside in Ethiopia permanently ;
    1. Above 25 years of age;
    1. Unless and otherwise there is no option the child must only be given to married persons.
    1. Family who reside in the area where the foster child resides shall get priority.
    1. Family must duly approve their willingness by written consent to foster the child.
    1. Family shall have sufficient economical capacity to raise the child.
    1. A   person   who   has   not   convicted   by   a   court   of   competent jurisdiction for offenses related children.
    1. Family must have medical certificate regarding eligible to raises the child.

9.    Home Study

  1. After making sure that the requirements lists under Article 8 of the directive fully completed before the concerned authority placed the child to foster family, the concerned organ shall assess the foster family by attending at home to acknowledge their psychosocial and economic conditions in accordance with the check list.
  2. As the home study undertaken the following requirements must be required to be fulfilled:
    1. The name and address of foster family ;
    1. The number, age, gender and relationship of biological children  and other members of the family ;
    1. Economic status of foster family;
    1. Marital status;
    1. Conditions of residential home ( private or rent or dependent) , number of rooms and playing spaces of the family ;
    1. Interest and initiation to raise a foster child;
    1. Receiving testimonial of three witnesses in relation to foster family;
    1. Assessed livelihood of the foster family ;
    1. Communication of the foster families with in the community;
    1. Attachment with their biological children;
    1. Based on the agreement, Willingness and interest of the foster family to maintain the relationship with biological parents of the foster child.
    1. Commitment and awareness to provide basic necessity to the foster child such as providing health care, food and other necessary basic needs to properly raise the child.
    1. Insuring the foster family previously convicted  in  offenses children right and human right related crimes.
    1. Current health condition of the family to insure that they are capable of taking care of children.
    1. Willingness of the family to accomplish the preconditions set by the foster care institution.
    1. Insuring that the families responsible and free from alcoholic or other drug addiction.
    1. Awareness of the family regarding to parenting skill and foster care service.
    1. Income evidence of the family.
    1. Commitment and willingness of the family in providing trustworthy information about the status of the child to social worker.
    1. According to the above mentioned requirements the institution shall determine how many number of children supposed to be raised under the custody of the family.

10.        Required evidences from family

  1. Ethiopian nationality identification card.
  2. Birth certificate.
  3. Medical certificate that confirms they are completely free from transferable or uncured deceased so as to confirm their health capability to properly raise children.
  4. Police clearance certificate.
  5. Marriage certificate.
  6. Income evidence.

11.        Assessing the status of the Child

Before the child placed to the family the institution should assess the following particulars:

  1. General information of the child; gender, age, language, religion (for a child capable of expressing himself/herself), place of birth and other related information.
  2. Residential address of the child.
  3. Birth certificate of the child.
  4. Family status of the child (abandon, single or double orphan) and other related status.
  5. The child physical, mental, psychological and health status.
  6. Educational status of a child.
  7. Economical status of a child, (for example acquiring property through inherits or grant).
  8. If the child is found abandoned, name and address of the person who found the child, date, place and other related information’s must be provided.

12.   Training for family

  1. After assessing general condition of trustee adapting families and children governmental authority and institutions providing service to trustee adoption family must provide various trainings to trustee adaption family pertaining to raise a child through child.
  2. Such training mainly consists of proper upbringing and maintenance of a child definition of trustee adaption family protection and securing

children right and other related subjects by providing continues trainings

13.        Matching with the Foster Family

After organized the evidences of both the family and the child, the institution shall made matching the child with suitable family in accordance with the above requirements.

14.   Inquiring before Matching

Before matching is made, the institutions shall conduct the following inquiry as per Article 13 of this directive.

  1. Identifying the child language and religion.
  2. The required age and gender requested by the family based on the home study.
  3. General health conditions of the child to be raised by the family as per the home study (for example: healthy, disabled, or mentally ill etc.)
  4. Based on the matching activities performed, introducing the foster family with the child in the living place of the child.
  5. During   the   matching   process    is   conducted,              photograph        and assessment report of the child shall be given to the foster family.
  6. The introducing process shall be conducted at the presence of foster families (both father and mother), social worker and the child.

15.     Creating attachment and bonding

  1. Introducing physically the child with the foster family.
  2. Introducing the biological children of the foster family with the child, in the living place of the foster child.
  3. Taking the child to at the village of the foster family so as to allow him to be adapting with the community.
  4. After allowing the child to adapt with his foster family environment and creating attachment at the home of the foster family, in the presence of social worker, with the foster family based on the level of attachment.

16.     Contractual Agreement on Foster Care

  1. After the bonding activity carried out, legally binding agreement shall be made between the child and the family.
  2. The agreement shall be concluded between the institution and the foster family.
  3. If an agreement signed between the charity institution and the foster family, the concerned governmental institution shall also singed as a witnesses.
  4. After the agreement is concluded, in order to protect economic and social rights of the child, the foster family may present its petition of guardianship to the competent court of law.

17.     Essential conditions of the contractual agreement

  1. Name, address and photographs of the child and the foster family
  2. Date of placement of the child
  3. Obligation of the contractual parties;
    1. Fulfilling a basic need of the child, such as medical care, education, clothing, sheltering, food, legal protection, and other supports required to be provided by the family.
    1. When life endanger conditions occur to health of the child and provision of medical complications and medical operation needed, a family should aware a child’s biological parents in such event they required to provide their consent. However, if the child is abandoned or orphan, the foster family shall give their consensus.
  4. Grounds of termination
  5. procedure of assessment and follow up mechanisms of the concerned governmental institution
  6. The agreement must be duly approved by two witnesses
  7. The contract prepared in three copies, and shall be signed by foster family, both charity and concerned government institution. Whereby each party of the agreement shall retain one copy each.

18.     Obligations of foster family

The following conditions shall be stated as obligations in the contractual agreement:

  1. If the child have biological parents, the foster family shall willing to adjust a visiting program at least every three months with his biological parents, and if the child needs to communicate with his biological parents through telephone, letter or any other communication means the family have an obligation to do so.
  2. The family shall have an obligation to cooperate with the charity and concerned government institution, to carry out follow up and ensure the right and welfare of the child is maintained and properly raised.
  3. The family shall not have a right to take the child abroad, temporally without the consent of the institution or biological parents of the child.
  4. A foster family shall give timely and trustworthy information about the status of a fostered child to the social workers.
  5. An obligation of foster family shall clearly stated on the agreement that its prohibited to take the child abroad if the family decide to permanently reside outside of Ethiopia, Unless approved to adopt a child by the court,

19.  Follow up and support

  1. After the placement is done, the concerned institution shall provide continuously support and follow up to ensure the right and welfare of the child.
    1. For the first year of the placement of the child, follow up and providing support must be given in consolidate manner, especially if the child recognized to be needed special attention, precise follow up and support shall be given to the child. However, such follow up and support shall not affect the psychological condition of the child and stability of the family.
    1. After a placement of the child is done, the institution shall carry out follow up and support in the first three months for at least monthly, up to a year per three months and continuously two times per a year.
    1. As per the follow up and support of this article, if the child refused to be raised under the custody of the foster family or if any undesirable cases created affecting the right and welfare of the child the agreement will be terminated.

20.  main observing issues during follow up and support

  1. Physical, psychological and social changes of the child
    1. Feeding condition of the child
    1. Education and active competitiveness of the child
    1. Acceptance of the child by the family members, relatives, neighbors and friends after the child unified with foster family
    1. Challenges that the foster family faces in raising the child
    1. Positive practices in terms of general up growing of the child

21.  Roles of Institutions on follow up and support

Within the scope of this process the concerned institution shall have the following responsibility.

  1. Providing awareness creation activities to the society concerning the necessity of foster family
    1. Providing awareness creation training to foster family and register families who are willing to foster
    1. Registering potential families on waiting list
    1. Conducting home study
    1. Conducting child case study
    1. Providing   capacity   and   skill   development                 trainings  to      foster families concerning the of the child
    1. As the foster family become eligible of fulfilling the necessary requirements, matching the child with the family.
    1. Conducting Following up and support to make ensure the right, wellbeing and development of the child
    1. By organizing relevant information on the health, education, development and vulnerability of the child and by providing such report to the concerned institutions and working in collaborate with the respective bodies and give feedback.
    1. By using best practice of foster family searching for another potential families willing to take and raising a child
    1. After placement is done perform other respective tasks in order to change foster care to domestic adoption within short period of time
    1. When the family encountered problems the family shall facilitate strategy and support to resolve such set back by working in collaboration with the concerned institutions.
    1. Organizing relevant information in connection to the relationship between the child and the family.
    1. When the family changes their living address they shall inform to concerned institution before two months. The concerned institution shall also make coordination and work in collaboration with the other concerned government institution to undertake continuous follow up and support regarding to the child.
    1. If the family found to be committed violation on right of the child, their contract shall be terminated and by searching for other alternative and also legal measures shall be taken against such family.

22. Issues on Transition of foster care service to other alternatives

  1. If the biological parents exist and while the child is given to the foster family temporally and biological parents capable to raise their child, reunification with biological parents shall be performed by foster care institution.
    1. If the child is found to be in difficult situation to be re-unified with his/her biological parents or abandoned, the foster care institution shall conduct awareness creation and capacity building activities in a continuous manner to adopt the child based on the willingness and consent of the family.
    1. The foster care institution Tasks shall carry out to re integrate the child with the community by working in collaboration with various stakeholders for the child who raise in foster family but do not get permanent family care and the child who above the age of 15.
    1. The child, biological parent (if they are alive), the foster family and the institution shall plan together during transitional services of the child.

23.  Conditions of terminating foster care

  1. If the family committed child labor, physical and psychological violence, and also the cause of their negligence to the child, sexual harassment and violence occur, or any exploitation has committed by the family member or by others, then if such incidents confirmed by the concerned institution without the prejudice of legal liability the contract will be terminated.
    1. If the child refused to be raised under the custody of the family due to the reasons specified under sub article (1) of this article, or due to any reasons the concerned institution shall take all the necessary investigation and terminate the agreement.
    1. If the foster family civil rights revoked by the law or in any causes of incapable to raise the child under their custody the contract shall terminate.

Part Three Domestic Adoption Service

24.  Duties of Institutions and Government Organizations

  1. They have the responsibilities to design different awareness raising programs to facilitate this program to the community that has a significant role on supporting children by domestic alternative; using the different community based organizations in different levels to raise awareness on the causes that entail children to have a custody of parents as well as the necessity and identity of an adoptive family.
    1. An awareness raising program that is provided pursuant to this Article sub article (1) shall fill the perception gap that are reflected by the community, and it shall be able to create awareness on the causes that require orphans and vulnerable children to be supported by domestic adoption.
    1. They should undertake to prepare a registration form to be filled by volunteer families that are willing to take children in domestic adoption program to provide care/custody. They should follow the following process during the registration.
      1. Adoptive Families that are interested to adopt shall clearly indicate on the registration form issued to them the age, gender, health status and other circumstances the child they want to take.
      1. The name of the official that is responsible for the filling of the form and the name of the official that approved the adoption shall be specified on the form on the date the form is filled.
      1. Families that were not attending the awareness raising programs but are willing to raise children shall also be registered on the registration form.

25.                Registration, Recruitment and Selection of eligible children

  1. Vulnerable children shall be registered and recruited depending on the intensity of their problems and their information shall be organized and kept based on their sequence.
    1. The selection activity of vulnerable children that are to be beneficiaries of domestic adoption service shall be based on alternative child care guideline.
    1. The registration form shall be used in a manner that comprises the detail biography of children and his family.

26.              Regarding Double Orphan Children

  1. If the child parents are not alive, evidence with regard to this shall be obtained from the relevant government body or municipality, from Kebele (woreda), or from religions institution; or from courts if the parents have disappeared.
    1. Grandparents that are ascendants that should be entitled to provide their consent with regard to the adoption of the children, uncle and aunt that are counted horizontally, moreover brothers and sisters of the child above 18 years old that are capable of giving consent shall bring an evidence that shows their relationship issued from the relevant government body and gives their consent.
    1. Guardian, relevant private or government institutions and bodies that are authorized to follow up the right and welfare of children can give their consent on the adoption.
    1. If the children are sibling and have no extended family and if the children are staying in institutional care, due to the fact that separating the children to give for  adoption has a  negative  impact  on the overall development of the children, they shall not  be separated unless due to condition beyond control. If one parent is not available to take  the children the situation should be facilitated  to keep them in the same  area  and  conditions  should  be  facilitated so that the  inter  relationship  between  the  children would not cease.

27.  Regarding to Abandoned Children

  1. If the child is abandoned the local police station shall provide the appropriate evidence that confirms the child is abandoned.
    1. The evidence that should be provided by the police should include the following information:
      1. The name of the police that found the child,
      1. the health status of the child,
      1. A letter that has made the child to temporarily stay in the institution care or temporary shelter found around the locality together with the name assigned to the child pursuant to the culture and custom of the area.
      1. Names given to be abandoned children should be free from any religious implications.
      1. Finally the evidence issued from the relevant government body to admit/assign the child at institutional care should be fulfilled.
    1. The child shall not be placed for adoption before two months of his found. It is considered to assist the police for the finding of the biological parents. Evidence that confirms to look the biological parents is not found.

28.        Children who have both Parents.

  1. Children that have both parents who are eligible for adoption in the following conditions :
    1. If both parents are living with terminal illness provided that this is medically proven;
    1. Upon the submission of a legal evidence issued from the relevant government body that confirms they are economically inefficient to

properly care for the child and due to the failure to observe the safety of the child in addition to other mandatory causes;

Thus, it shall be on the provision of a certified evidence from the courts at each level or the local government body that follows up the issue of children that proves the  child cannot  be raised  within the family due  to the grounds aforementioned above.

29.  Regarding to Single Orphan Children

  1. On condition that alive parent expresses his consent to give his child in adoption; he shall submit clear and unambiguous legal evidence about the other parent.
    1. In the event that the other parent is not alive evidence issued from Religious institution, municipality or vital events as well as judgment evidence in the case of a absentee parent should be submitted.
    1. For Children born out of wedlock an evidence issued from the social court or the local children’s affairs government body  that  express  the fact that the father is not clearly recognized and the mother is incapable to raise the children.
    1. An evidence issued from the social court or the local  children’s  affairs government body that express the desire or mandatory grounds that made the surviving parent to give his child in adoption.
    1. Finally the problem with regard to the child, and a written evidence as to how the child entered to institution that is issued from the local children’s affairs authority should be present confirmation letter.

30. Children with Special Needs

  1. If the parents are interested to adopt children that require special need, they shall be given priority based on the evidence submitted from the relevant authority.
    1. Adoptive parents shall be made to be provided with additional parental skill and other relevant skill training and support.
    1. Finally the problem with regard to the child, and written evidence as to how the child entered to the orphanage that is issued from the local children’s affairs authority should be present confirmation letter.

31. Evidences that should be submitted with regard to the child

  1. Adoption agreement, the signature of the guardian and [adoptive family or legal agents, date of execution of the contract shall be correctly written and submitted.
    1. One passport size photograph of the adoptee child shall be attached and submitted with the adoption contract.
    1. The affinity relatives or guardians/custodians/photograph of the child shall be attached with the biography of the child.
    1. Birth certificate of the child, short profile, health certificate and other necessary documents shall be submitted.

32.                Documents Required from the Adoptive Parents

  1. Medical Certificate

The adoptive family shall provide a full health examination certificate issued from a recognized health institution that expresses that they

are free from any health problem that can impede their qualification to provide care and custody for any child or that shall not prevent them from engaging in adoption.

The adoptive families shall submit a certificate of good conduct especially that specifies they have not been convicted of human right violation, harassment of children, and are not suspended from community services issued from the relevant justice body.

A birth certificate that indicates the correct age of the adoptive family issued from the relevant government body shall be submitted.

  1. Accordingly, out of the husband and wife of the adoptive family, one of them should attain 25 years age and above.
  2. The age difference between the adoptive family and the adopted child shall not be below 18 years as well as above 50 years of age.
    1. Home study

Taking into consideration the local income level and existing social conditions, the adoptive family shall appear in person before a government institution concerned about children affairs and obtain the result of home study undertaken that is verified by document, mainly the following evidences shall be considered:

  1. The name, age, permanent address (Telephone number, email, house number, P.O. Box and related information) about the adoptive family.
  2. The family size, composition and harmonious relationship of the families of the adoptive family;
  3. The psychological readiness of the adoptive family and the interest and inspiration to receive a new child.
  4. The background history, medical certificate, free from drug addiction, police clearance, certificate of good conduct, income level and good marriage relationship of the adoptive families.
  5. The good relationship with neighbors and with the local community.
  6. The final opinion provided by the psycho-social study experts shall be maintained as a prevailing idea.

33. Counseling and Training

  1. Before the placement of adoptive child the relevant government body shall provide the appropriate training that can enable to make the necessary psychological preparation and the outcome of adoption that includes systems of child custody, strategies of building good conduct of children, family strengthening and capacity developing systems to the adoptive family.
    1. In addition, the biological parents or  custodian shall be provided  with an advice and training service issued from the local children’s affairs government body that will enable them to give consent, to recognize the impact of the adoption on the child, the parents or the custodian /guardians/.

34.  Matching the child with his Adoptive Family

The matching, introducing, combining and habituation process underlined with regard to the Foster family care under part two this directive from Article 13 up to 16 shall mutatis mutandis be applicable to domestic adoption services.

35.  Follow up

  1. In order to follow up the growth and general condition of the child and to provide a professional support, the adoption provider institution/ the government body which is responsible for child affairs, shall make follow up especially within two consecutive years after the date of the placement.
    1. The follow up should be undertaken not to supervise the adoptive family but to confirm the rights and welfare of the child in a better way. Accordingly, the follow up activity shall be undertaken secretly.
    1. Up on the request additional support and follow up of the adoptive family, shall be provided a problem solving and on time support.
    1. The child affairs government body, at each level shall upgrade the capacity of social workers, shall engage in follow up and support works and at  times it is found necessary, shall  travel in person to the parents and make problem solving discussion, prepares current reports with regard to general custody of the child and keeps information about the children and their parents  in  a  timely manner.

36.  Revocation of domestic adoption

  1. The adoption contract shall be revoked only in accordance with Article 195 of the revised family code.
    1. The adopted child, a government organ authorized to follow up the well being children, or any other interested person, may petition to the court for revoking the adoption.

Part Four

Coordination, Accountability and Record Handling Procedure

37.              Coordination

  1. In order to make children benefit from the alternatives child care mentioned under part two and three above and to make children’s care effective, governmental and nongovernmental organization that are working on children’s affairs as well as families are expected to work in collaboration, government bodies that are coordinating children’s affairs at each level shall make a permanent joint discussion in order to strengthen the integrated

operation, shall identify the strong and weak sides and underline focal dimensions in order to sustain their continuity.

38. Accountability

  1. Activities that are performed around the protection of the right and welfare of child shall be undertaken based on international and continental conventions as well as the constitution of the country and other laws, regulations and directives. Any employee that has violated this directive and executed against it. He shall be subjected to legal liability pursuant to the harassment and attack executed by employees of the institution.
    1. Contrary to this directive, If foster or adoptive families that are found using the children for income generating, labor exploitation and other human right abuses; they shall be made liable based on the law of the country.

39.  Recording and Documentation

Government bodies that are responsible to follow up children’s affairs at each level as well as institutions that are working around alternative child care and support shall be made to keep, maintain and organize the birth certificate of the child, educational certificate, vaccine certificate, death certificate if the parents are not alive, reports of follow up and supportive supervision, as well as other related documents.

Part Five

Duties and Responsibilities of Governmental and Non-Governmental Institutions

40. Duties and responsibilities of government Institutions

  1. Working to bring about change in awareness and attitudes of the community in relation to alternative child care and support that should be provided to vulnerable and orphan children.
    1. Deciding the alternatives that will benefit vulnerable and orphan children
    1. Coordinating various governmental and non-governmental organizations that are engaged on children’s affairs.
    1. Ensuring the best interest of the child in all alternative child care arrangement.
    1. Building the capacity of organizations working on child right and welfare.
    1. Conducting assessment on the performance of foster and domestic adoption service to identify implementation gaps and make timely action.
    1. Visiting fostered and adopted children for timely feedback to assure the right and welfare of the child.
    1. Conduct proper record and documentation of the child and their families.
    1. Protect children from different forms of violence and abuses, and make the perpetrators legally liable.
    1. Gather best practice on child care and support services and scale up the same;

41. Duties     and     Responsibilities    of     Non-Governmental Institutions

  1. Providing technical and financial support in relation to capacity building activity on child care and support services,
    1. Work in collaboration of with government bodies and the community for sustain care and support;
    1. Train and deploy social workers.
    1. Working closely with the relevant government organization, and properly organizing documents and submit the same to the pertinent body.
    1. Build the capacity of staff.
    1. Understand the context of the community, respect their social values, and work closely.
    1. Establishing strong institutional capacity and sustainable system.
    1. Observe and implement international, continental and national laws, regulation and directives related to children.
    1. Upon phase out of the project there should be hand over, any type of document of children, to the government body.
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