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  • CDA and the Adoption Board will be working overtime to clear the backlog of adoption applications this year.
  • At present, there are some 311 requests awaiting matches, some dating as far back as 1999.
  • At present, there are some 311 requests awaiting matches, some dating as far back as 1999.

The Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Adoption Board will be working overtime to clear the backlog of adoption applications this year.

This was the commitment given by Chairman of the Adoption Board, Tricia Sutherland, at a press briefing held on Wednesday morning, January 15, at the Ministry of Youth and Culture in New Kingston.

She informed that at present, there are some 311 requests awaiting matches, some dating as far back as 1999.

Mrs. Sutherland informed that about 50 per cent of the outstanding cases were made prior to 2012.  “The first thing that the CDA and the Board has agreed on to clear that list is to make sure that those persons are still interested in adopting,” she said.

She pointed out that since 2012, the Adoption Board has asked the CDA to give preference to those applicants, who have been on the waiting list the longest.

She also revealed that in 2013, the Board approved the placement of 10 children with families on the waiting list. She noted that once those placements are successful, the law prescribes a minimum of three-months of follow-up before the adoption applications are approved, after which the adoption can be finalised by the court.

Mrs. Sutherland explained that the adoption procedure in Jamaica is often considered long, because prospective parents are required to undergo a “careful screening process” before the children are placed in their care.

She noted that the investigations and paperwork involved in the process are extensive, but that this is necessary and is in the best interest of the child.

“We do not want to send our children into (unfavourable) situations, so by virtue of that we are very careful how we examine the data presented to us in reviewing these cases and do not rush our decisions. We try our best to be efficient, but we do not rush,” she stated.

Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna further noted that prospective parents may experience some delay in the adoption process simply because of the number of children available for adoption in the system.

She explained that at present, there are some 257 children under the age of eight in state care. Of that number, about 140 are between the ages of zero to three.

She pointed out that 98 per cent of the adoption requests are for children three years old and younger.

“This brings us to one of the commonest misunderstandings about children who are wards of the state – there are not that many children zero to three in the system, and not all of them are eligible to be adopted,” she explained.

Miss Hanna pointed out that some of these children are still in contact with their parents or family members and efforts are to be made to rehabilitate the families.