News / Africa

    Uganda Tightens Foreign Adoption Rules

    FILE - Ugandan children, orphans among them, are seen at a clinic in Kampala, Uganda, in a Aug. 3, 2012, photo.
    FILE - Ugandan children, orphans among them, are seen at a clinic in Kampala, Uganda, in a Aug. 3, 2012, photo.
    Serginho Roosblad

    The Ugandan parliament voted unanimously this month in favor of a new law that makes it harder for foreigners to adopt children and take them out of the country. Proponents say the new law closes loopholes exploited by child traffickers while critics say it may rob needy children of the chance at a better life overseas.
    Ugandan lawmakers say the old adoption law allowed foreigners to quickly obtain legal guardianship of a child so they could then take the child out of the country and finalize the adoption abroad.
    This new law, passed March 2, restricts guardianship of orphaned or needy children to Ugandan nationals.
    Parliament member Bernard Atiku initiated the bill.

    “The current law was made way back. It has been many years, since it has been enacted. And as we talk there are many new forms of child exploitation that have emerged. There are many challenges as far as the rights of the children are concerned that have emerged and other forms of abuse. So the current situation needs an amendment," said Atiku.
    Inter-country adoption from Uganda has boomed in recent years.
    About 200 children are adopted annually, according to Uganda Child Rights NGO Network. Many of them are adopted by American families.
    But Stella Ayo-Odongo of the child rights group says more children are disappearing.

    “In 2012, the other statistics from the African Child Policy Forum indicates that 680 children left the country. Now the only ones we could account for as having gone through the adoption processes were 227. So what happened to the other four hundred and so many? It’s difficult to tell," said Ayo-Odongo.
    She says even for children adopted by well-intended parents, there have been no follow-up mechanisms to see where children end up and whether they are properly cared for.  
    Child traffickers operating in the region are believed to be targeting target needy children for domestic work, labor in mines or even ritual sacrifice.  
    Uganda’s new law does not ban foreign adoption, but it does enforce a longer waiting period, something experts say is important. The adoptive parents and child need time to get acquainted and create a bond.

    'Not realistic'

    The new law requires foreign adoptive parents to stay at least one year in Uganda.
    Allie Hamel of Carolina Adoption Services in the U.S. says this might not be realistic.

    “I think it’s fair and very appropriate for families to spend a good period of time in-country, because it’s important that they get to know their child’s culture and really embrace it and learn as much as they can about the history. But one year is unfortunately not realistic for the majority of families to have to stay here consistently. Perhaps they have other children at home. They have work, that way they can continue to provide for their families," said Hamel.

    Some people say it is in the child’s best interest to get him or her out of an orphanage as soon as possible by allowing a foreign adoptive parent to assume guardianship.

    But Odongo of the child rights NGO disagrees.  
    “What has been happening is that no effort was being made to identify the legal guardians. All the cases that would come up in the care institutions would be up for adoption, even without an attempt to trace parents and re-unite or foster them even within the country, so I don’t agree with that assertion," said Odongo.

    The new law also creates a government agency to take care of orphaned and needy children.
    Child rights activists are calling for a temporary moratorium on inter-country adoptions until the new law is implemented and new monitoring authorities and procedures are put in place.

    President Yoweri Museveni is expected to sign the law in the next two months.
    Other African countries like Ethiopia have also recently tightened their foreign adoption rules.  Kenya banned foreign adoption in 2014.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora