Child Adoption Under The Nigerian Law Part 2 by Evans Ufeli



The adoption provisions of the Child’s Right Act 2003 began with the establishment of the adoption services of a kind that is novel in the history of adoption legislation in Nigeria. Specifically the Act provides that the state Government and the Federal Government Shall, for the purpose of adoption, establish and maintain each state and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja respectively, a service designed to meet the needs of a child who has been or may be adopted; parents and guardians of such child; and persons who have adopted or who may adopt a child pursuant to Section 125 (2) (a-c) which make provision for the facilities to be provided as part of the services maintained under subsection (1) of the above section include following:

A temporary board and lodging, where needed by a child and in exceptional circumstances, the mother of a child;
Arrangements for accessing a child and prospective adopters and placing of the child for adoption; and
Counseling for persons who are with problems relating to adoption.
However, the prescribed adoption services and indeed the entire institutional framework for adoption under the Act are yet to be put in place. In the states that already have adoption legislation, it is the ministry responsible for social welfare and youth development that is in charge of adoption. There is no parallel provision in any of the pre-existing state legislation which requires the Ministry or Government Agency to provide such facilities and services as are prescribed in section 125 of the Act.


The procedure for the making of adoption orders in the Eastern and Lagos States is similar. An application for an adoption order must be made in the prescribed form and submitted to the registrar of the competent court. On the receipt of the application, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem for the juvenile, to represent him in the adoption proceedings. The person to be appointed the guardian ad litem is the chief welfare officer or the welfare officer in charge of the area where the juvenile resides, or a probation officer or some other person suitably qualified in the opinion of the court for the assignment. A parent or person having parental rights will not be appointed guardian ad litem.

It is the function of a guardian ad litem to investigate the circumstances relevant to the proposed adoption and to report confidentially in writing to the court. The applicant for an adoption order must inform the chief welfare officer of his intention to adopt the juvenile at least three months before the order is made. Moreover, for at least three consecutive months immediately preceding an adoption order, the juvenile must have been continuously in the care and possession of the applicant.

This is intended to give both the applicant and the juvenile an opportunity of being familiar with each other. After their three months stay together, the applicant will be able to decide if he is sufficiently interested in the particular juvenile to adopt it. On the other hand, where the juvenile has attended the age of discretion he will be in a position, after staying with the applicant, to express his approval or disapproval of the proposed adoption arrangement.