Every child benefits from a loving home in several ways, and international adoption has made this possible for thousands of children across the globe.
The Bahamas, for example, is known for its beautiful scenery and year-round tropical weather. But little do people know that a country so rich in natural resources is also putting up children for adoption. It is innate for the Bahamians to be easy-going individuals. This is the reason why the Bahamas guarantees that their adoptees will most likely become individuals who have a profound understanding of living a laid back life, that nothing is more rewarding than having worry-free days. In a world full of chaos and stresses, these children who are sheltered in a sustaining home will definitely contribute so much positive vibes to the society.
Typically, international adoption in the Bahamas takes approximately three months. Moreover, it should cost adoptive parents more or less $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the various factors that cannot be avoided, such as delays in the processing of necessary documents and the potential waiting period in partnering with service providers and travel agencies. In light with this, these are the international adoption steps in the Bahamas:
1. Choosing an accredited or approved adoption service provider;
2. Applying to be found eligible to adopt;
3. Matching and referral with a child by authorities in the Bahamas;
4. Applying for the child to be found eligible for immigration;
5. Obtaining legal custody of the child in the Bahamas; and
6. Bringing the child home.
The Bahamas is not a party to the Hague Adoption Convention that by the time it entered into the United States on April 1, 2008, the processing for international adoption in the Bahamas was not affected.
However, the Bahamian law allows anyone with legal status in the Bahamas as well as foreign tourists to adopt. But, legal permanent residents of Bahamas have more chances in adoption than foreigners, especially when they are biologically related to the adoptees. This is due to the fact that unlike other countries, there is a small number of Bahamian children available for adoption, and because of the long list of prospective adoptive parents that are waiting in the line, one’s chances in immediate adoption are very slim.
Pre- Adoption Process
Since adoption should not be taken lightly, there are things you should know before proceeding with the adoption process. It is important to note that the more you know, the better informed and prepared you will be in every process.
Eligibility Requirements for Prospective Adoptive Parents
International adoptions typically have the following requirements:
- Adoptive parents must be at least twenty-five years old. However, in the Bahamian requirement, the prospective adoptive parents should be 21 years older than the child. If the prospective adoptive parents are related to the child by blood, the age requirement is reduced to 18.
- Single individuals can adopt. However, according to the laws of the Bahamas, single men may find it hard to adopt girls successfully, and it is less likely that the court will make exceptions in this matter.
- Members of the LGBT community are allowed domestically; hence, some provinces may allow for international adoption. However, the adoptive parents’ own country may have its own rules and regulations regarding this matter.
- Adoptive parents must be financially stable and capable of raising a child.
- Adoptive parents must have no criminal history or any record of abuse.
- Adoptive parents must be capable of functioning well physically and psychologically.
For updates on the requirements, one may also contact the Bahamian government.
Note: In the Bahamas, there is no residency requirement for prospective adoptive parents.
The prospective adoptive parents should also be able to provide the following documents:
- Original and a copy of the adoptive parents ́ passports
- Copy of a document that states the current address of the adoptive parents
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates, if applicable
- Divorce decrees, if applicable
- Financial documentation or proof of financial assets
- Police reports
Aside from those mentioned above, the Bahamian law requires the adoptive parents to give these additional documents to the Supreme Court through a Bahamian Attorney:
- Child’s Birth Certificate
- Originating Summons
- Notice of Hearing of the Originating Summons
- Consent to Act as the Guardian Ad Litem
- Consent of the birth mother and/or father or legal guardian
- Affidavit of Applicants -the truth of the Statement in Support of the Application
- Annex to Statement in Support of Application
- Statement in Support of Application — exhibits – birth certificate of applicant(s) Marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parent(s)
- First 5 pages of passport applicant(s)
- Undertaking to pay costs of the Guardian Ad Litem
- Appearance Report that is prepared by the Guardian Ad Litem
- Letter of listing officer with Notice of Hearing for an Adoption Summons to go before the Judge on the Adoption
Note: The documents number 1 – 8 are filed and within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Originating Summons.
Eligibility Requirements for Prospective Adopted Children
The Bahamas has two specific requirements for a prospective adopted child. Failure to meet these requirements will terminate the adoption process:
- The child must be at least six weeks old to be eligible for adoption.
- The child must meet the definition of an orphan. The criteria are as follows:
- The child must be 16 to 18 years old with a sibling under 16 years old.
- The child must have no parents because of abandonment, disappearance, or death of the parents.
- The child must have a single parent who is incapable of raising the child and who has revoked his or her rights to the child’s custody
- The child, if adopted by a single person, the age of that person, should be at least 25 years old.
If you are a prospective adoptive parent, you should acquaint yourself with additional truths about international adoption, which requires your common sense. For example, you should be fully aware before taking any step towards adoption that not all children in the orphanage are orphans. Some of them are only placed by their birth parents in orphanages temporarily due to financial stability. That is why you should adhere first to the criteria listed above to validate whether the child passes the definition of an orphan or not.
The Adoption Process
1. Choosing an accredited or approved adoption service provider.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to select an initial adoption service provider as a first step to adopting a child in the Bahamas. The service provider must be a licensed agency whose responsibility is to ensure that the adoption follows all legal processes.
The adoption service providers essentially identify a child for adoption and arrange his or her adoption. They will also secure the necessary consent if the birth parents have terminated their parental rights to the child. They will also conduct two studies. One is a background study on the child, and the second is a home study on the prospective adoptive parents. In general, the goal of their job is to determine the best interests of a child and the appropriate placement as well.
Note: Adoption service providers are responsible for disclosing all expected costs associated with your adoption before they let you sign an adoption services contract with them.
2. Applying to be found eligible to adopt.
After choosing an accredited or approved adoption service provider, prospective adoptive parents must apply to be found eligible to adopt.
For U.S. citizens, they can apply to the U.S. government agencies. These are the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application that is to be submitted is Form I-600 since the Bahamas is a non-Convention country. Explicitly, the Form I-600 is an Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. It is very important to fill out this form properly and completely. Failure to complete the form as well as a file without supporting documentation, will deny your petition to adopt. Once the USCIS determines that the applicants are eligible to adopt, the applicants will then be given an approval notice.
3. Matching and referral with a child by authorities in the Bahamas.
A referral for the applicants for adoption will be provided once the Central Authority in the Bahamas has successfully proven that the child is a candidate for adoption. Still, this is provided that the adoption is in line with the child’s interests. A background study containing the child’s personal information and medical records will be provided to applicants. Whether or not the referral will be accepted, the decision is up to the prospective parents who are applying for adoption in consideration with the overall needs of the child. If, by any chance, the referral is accepted, the adoption service provider will be in touch with the adoption authority in the Bahamas.
Once the Central Authority in the Bahamas has determined a child as
4. Applying for the child to be found eligible for immigration.
After the acceptance of the referral, the applicants will then apply for a provisional approval for the child’s immigration.
For example, U.S. applicants will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application is in the form of Form I-600. This form is a Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will finalize the immigration process for a child from a non-Convention country. They will also determine if the child is eligible to enter the U.S. as an orphan under U.S. immigration law and reside permanently as an immigrant.
Then, after provisional approval of Form I-600, the adoption service provider or the adoptive parents will apply for the child’s visa. The visa will allow the child to travel home with the adoptive parents.
The visa will be issued the day after the final interview. The assumption that the visa will be issued right after the interview is completely impossible. Adoptive parents are also advised to set appointments with the embassy or check their processing time beforehand as to not jeopardize their time and money in making travel arrangements only to be dismayed at the end.
5. Obtaining legal custody of a child in the Bahamas
This is the last step of the adoption process. The adoptive parents should provide the documents provided above. This process generally requires the participation of an adoption authority. In the Bahamas, the Department of Social Services will act as the representative of the child’s interest. Similarly, an attorney is also needed to guide the process through the Supreme Court.
The Bahamas government will not charge fees for the adoption. However, the lawyer will require fees for their services and for the filing fees as well.
6. Bringing the child home
Before the adoptive parents are able to bring the child home, they will need to apply for three documents which are enumerated below:
There will be a need to apply for a child’s new birth certificate for a validation that the adoptive parents are now the legal guardian of the child.
If the adoption has been finalized in the sending country, which is the Bahamas in this case, the new birth certificate will contain the adoptive parents’ names. Otherwise, if the custody is finalized abroad, the new birth certificate will not include the adoptive parents’ name yet.
The child will need a Bahamas travel document or passport to fly to the receiving country. Most sending countries require the adoptive parents to apply for the passport themselves provided that they have completed the required documents for application and processing of the passport.
The application for the child’s immigrant visa shall be made with the consulate. The consulate will review the case, issue a Custody Certificate, approve Form I-600, and issue the child’s immigrant visa. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child. This is only applicable if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.
The Adoption Cost
An entire international adoption process in the Bahamas may cost more or less $20,000 to $50,000. Below is a list of specific, basic expenses prospective adoptive parents can expect.
It is important to take note that the costs provided are but rough estimations. The costs, especially the total amount, can vary on a case-by-case basis. For instance, the travel cost is estimated for a couple’s trip to Canada for a week or two. Therefore, it can cost more or less in actual depending on the length of stay or the number of trips. It is also important to note that travel requirements differ from province to province.
|Home Study||$2,500 – $3,000|
|Agency fees||$10,000 – $15,000|
|Documentation feesInclusions:Birth certificate Passport Medical exam of the child for immigration Immigrant visa Form I-600 (additional biometric services fee )||$1,000 – $2,500|
|Court and/or attorney fees||$2,000 – $3,500|
|Travel expenses (1 week worth)Inclusions:International fareAccommodation In-country transportation Meals||$15,000 – $25,000|
|Post-adoption applications and fees (if applicable)||$1,000 – $1,500|
How difficult is international adoption in the Bahamas?
To start with, very few Bahamian children are available for international adoption that any adoption agency might place only one child a year. In addition to that, these agencies will prefer to work with children who are in need of the most help- children who do not have advocates for their adoption.
What happens when your adopted child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the receiving country?
It is very important for adoptive parents to take the necessary steps so that the child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to do so can impact many areas of the child’s life, such as education eligibility, education grants, and voting.
Where can you find the right adoption agency for you?
In your adoption journey, the agency will become the intermediary. Using an agency to help facilitate during the whole process is extremely helpful, and sometimes, it is required by the sending country. In deciding which one is the best adoption agency among your list of options, you should consider first if the agency is licensed by the state. If so, this will prevent you from unnecessary hassles and illegal processes along your journey.
Another consideration is the number of children the agency places each year. If the agency places only a minimum number of children who are candidates for adoption, your chances of adoption are obviously slim. You should remember that many loving parents around the world will be on the waiting list just as you are. Likewise, you should also check whether or not the agency provides the resources that you will need if you push through the adoption process.
Is there a chance that the birth parents can get the child back after the adoption has been completed?
The answer is no. After you went through the hassle of legal adoption, and once the adoption papers have been signed-in in accordance with the law, the birth parents no longer have parental rights over the child.