The laws of Ghana, just like other jurisdictions, allow for non-Ghanaians to adopt children from Ghana. These persons are not ordinarily resident in Ghana and their intention is to return to their home countries with the adopted child after fulfilling all the adoption procedures in Ghana. This process is referred to as inter-country adoption under the Children’s (Amendment) Act, 2016 [Act 937].
The law distinguishes in-country adoption from inter-country adoption although there is a large similarity in terms of procedure. In this regard, it is important for a non-Ghanaian who intends to adopt a child in Ghana and return the child to his home country to understand the legal framework of adoption in Ghana.
II. INSTITUTIONS FOR ADOPTION
There is the need for a person to familiarize himself of the various agencies that are involved in the adoption processes in Ghana.
The body that is exclusively set up by law to handle adoption matters in Ghana is the Central Adoption Authority. The Authority has the Adoption Board, the Technical Committee and Adoption Secretariat. All of these bodies have various roles they play in the adoption process and same will be explained in going through the procedure.
The other important body is the Department of Social Welfareat the national and regional level. This body works in collaboration with the Authority especially during the initiation procedures for adoption.
The High Court is the court with the power to issue adoptive orders.
In terms of post adoption the Birth and Death Registry and the Registrar General Departmenthave administrative role to play in terms of issuing Birth Certificates and records management at Adopted Children’s Registry.
With regard to the inter-country, the Central Authority of the adoptive parent country plays a pivotal role in the adoption process in Ghana.
III. WHO CAN ADOPT:
A non-Ghanaian resident outside Ghana ability to be an adoptive parent must first be based on appreciating whether the said individual qualifies to adopt a child in Ghana. The person must satisfy these conditions before he can be deemed as suitable and eligible to be an adoptive parent. The following are the qualifications that a non-Ghanaian resident outside Ghana must satisfy:
a. MARITAL STATUS:
A non-Ghanaian who seeks to adopt a child in Ghana must be a married individual. This provision is based on the framers’ intention for children to grow in a marriage environment. By marriage, the law expressly forbids same sex couples from adopting children in Ghana. Thus gays and lesbians cannot adopt children in Ghana
The prospective adoptive parent must not be less than 25 years and not more 50 years but must be at least 21 years older than the adoptive child.
The law puts it that the only time a male person will be permitted to adopt a child (if it is not a joint application for adoption) is where he seeks to adopt a son and where special circumstances warrants same. 
The law defines SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES to be “circumstances where the person intending to adopt is not a relative of the child but has bonded with the child as a result of a relationship with the child preceding the intention to adopt.”
IV. WHO CAN BE ADOPTED
The law also places a requirement on the individual who qualifies to be adopted. Thus a person will not be given up for adoption unless the person has been declared to be adoptable. The following factors must be in place before a person will be deemed to an adoptable.
It is only a child who can be adopted. A child is a person who is less than 18 years of age. Thus an adult cannot be adopted in Ghana.
b. Care and Protection
It must be determined that the child is in need of care and protection. Thus the child’s current circumstances exposes him to harm or living in a condition that is not in his best interest. This factor may be ignored when it is established that the adoptive parent is the spouse of the parent of the child or relative of the child or special circumstances warrant same.
A child who has been abandoned and is in need of care and protection is also adoptable. This provision is captured by the Adoption Regulations, 2018,(L.I. 2360), The law proceeds to define abandonment of a child to include:
– leaving the child with an unknown person without returning; or
– leaving the child in a health facility without a parent, guardian or relative of the child visiting; or
– leaving the child alone in a public place without care; or
– leaving the child in a questionable place that suggests neglect; or
– leaving the child in a residential care facility for at least a year without the parent, guardian or relative of the child visiting the child or showing any interest in caring for the child and the Department of Social Welfare is unable to trace the parent, guardian or relative of the child or the Department has given notice to the parent, guardian or relative to show interest in the child without any response.
The law places a duty on any person who suspects that a child has been abandoned to report to the nearest police station or to the Department.
d. Care Order
A child who has been placed under foster care qualifies to be adopted. The law allows the Department of social welfare to place a child under a foster parent where it is in the best interest of the child. This child under a foster care order is also qualified for adoption. The child should be continuously in the care and custody of the applicant for at least 2 years immediately preceding the date of the adoption order. This factor may be ignored when it is established that the adoptive parent is the spouse of the parent of the child or relative of the child or special circumstances warrant same.
e. Failure at in-country adoption
The Law also permits a child who although suitable for adoption has failed to be adopted within. Thus a child will be considered for inter-country adoption after unsuccessful efforts have been made to place the child for in-country adoption.
In the case of a child of less than two years, three attempts must have been made to place the child in-country; in the case of a child aged two to five years, two attempts must have been made, and in the case of a child above five years or a child with special need, one attempt.
V. PROCESS FOR ADOPTION:
Adoption procedure in Ghana under the current legal regime involves pre-adoption order requirements, court adoption requirements and post-adoption order requirements. It is important for the adoptive parent to understand the steps involved so as to ensure that the adoption process is not rendered void.
a. Pre-Adoption Order Requirements:
An adoptive parent must first fulfill the pre-adoption order requirements, which is in the nature of administrative procedure before a formal application is brought to the courts for the adoption. The institutions involved includes the Department of Social Welfare and the Central Adoption Authority. At this stage of the proceedings, the law prohibits the facilitation of contact between the adoptable child and prospective parent before official placement of the child with the adoptive parent. This notwithstanding, if the adoptive parent is Spouse of a parent or Relative or Special circumstances exist, then contact before placement is not deemed to be unlawful. The following steps are the pre-adoption order process that is to be followed by a non-Ghanaian seeking to adopt a child in Ghana.
Step One: The Applicant shall apply to the Department of Social Welfare for adoption for investigation to adopt in Ghana. The Department shall then investigate the application as an alternative means of child care if a child cannot be placed in a foster home or be placed in adoptive family or in any suitable manner be cared for in the country. Thus if the child can be given an alternative means of child care in Ghana the Department shall not recommend the inter country adoption.
Step Two: The Department shall proceed to prepare a Child Study Report on the adoptive child. The Child Study Report shall include recommendations on the adoptability of the child. If the child is capable of forming an opinion, his wishes on the adoption must be captured in the report.
This Child Study Report contains information on:
a) The identity of the child;
b) Information on the immediate and extended family of the child including the socio-economic situation of the family;
c) Information regarding personal and family history of the child as well as the cultural, ethnic and religious upbringing;
d) Circumstances that triggered the adoption process and how consent for the adoption was obtained;
e) A medical report on the child;
f) The physical appearance, personality and behavioural traits of the child;
g) Evidence of voluntary relinquishment or evidence of parental consent to relative adoption;
h) The circumstances leading to the application for the Care Order for the child; and
i) Any efforts made to trace or reunite the child with the parent, guardian or relative of the child, where applicable.
This report shall be submitted to the Central Adoption Authority. 
Step Three: The Authority shall cause to be reviewed in addition to the application for adoption a Home Study Report on an applicant received from an accredited adoption agency or the State Authority of the Country of the Applicant where the child will be residing. This Home Study Report will include the Recommendation on the eligibility and suitability of the Applicant to adopt a child. This will serve as the basis for the Authority to determine the eligibility and suitability of the Applicant to adopt a child based from Ghana. 
In line with this purpose, the law requires the Home Study Report to contain the following information:
– An assessment of the applicant to parent a child who may or may not be accustomed to family life.
– An indication of whether members of the family of the applicant are willing to accept the prospective adoptive child; and
– Other relevant information for other authorities including the courts.
Step Four: The Central Adoption Authority will review the Application of the Prospective Parent. Its review process includes Matching. The Technical Committee of the Authority shall embark on a process of Matching of eligible prospective adoptive parent and the adoptable child after considering Child Study Report and Home Study Report.
Step Five: When matching has been successful it must be accepted by the Prospective Parent and the Adoption Authority of the Applicant’s home state. The process of adoption will only continue upon acceptance of the matching process. , Where the prospective adoptive parent does not accept the matching, s/he shall provide reasons to the Authority for the non-acceptance, and the Authority may re-match the prospective adoptive parent with another adoptable child
Step Six: When matching is successful, the next phase of the process mandates the Authority to proceed to Pre-Adoption Placement. In this process, the Authority shall place the child for a period of not less than one month with the prospective adoptive parent under the supervision of the Department of Social Welfare in the receiving country.
Placement may be waived in exceptional circumstances where a recognised senior medical doctor from a government health institution authorised by the Authority certifies that the child is in need of specialized medical care outside the country.
Step Seven: The Department of Social Welfare in the receiving country shall cause to be prepared and forwarded to the Ghana Authority the Post-Placement Report. This report shall state the compatibility of the adoptable child and the adoptive parent and members of the household and submit same to the Authority. If the report is favourable the Authority shall give clearance to apply for adoption order from the court.
Step Eight: Before the Prospective adoptive parent proceeds to bring a formal application he must seek to get the permission of the Consent Person. The person to Grant Consent covers
– Parental Consent or Locus parentis: Both parents unless one parent is unknown, has died or cannot be found or Guardian or any person whom the court thinks has any rights or obligations in respect of the child under an agreement, court order or under customary law.
– Spousal Consent: Where the Adoptive parent is married the consent of the spouse must be secured.
– Adoptive Child: Where the child is at least fourteen years of age his/her consent must be procured.
The consent of the parent or locus parentis may be given even before knowing the Adoptive parent. Parents may relinquish rights and responsibilities towards the child to the Department. Consent shall not be unreasonably withheld from the adoptive parent and same may be deemed to be unreasonably withheld if the only basis of doing so is because of the identity of the applicant.
That notwithstanding, consent may be revoked before the Court makes the adoption order.
Consent need not be procured where it is established that Consenting parent or locus parentis cannot be found or incapable of giving consent or consent is unreasonable withheld or has neglected or persistently ill-treated the child
b. Court Adoption Requirements;
The prospective adoptive parent after receiving clearance from the Authority shall commence the formal process to seek the adoption order from the court.
– Which court must the process be filled?
The court that is given the original jurisdiction to hear and make an adoption order is the High Court where the child resides on the date of the application.
– What is the nature of process to be filed?
The nature of process to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court is that of an application in accordance of Order 19(2) of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2004 CI47. Thus it must be an application supported by Affidavit Evidence.
The Application to be filed must be accompanied by a Social Enquiry Report which is basically a report consisting of the Child Study Report, Home Study Report and Post Placement Report (Section 9 amending Section 124 of Act 560)
– What are the conditions for grant?
The court in making a grant of an adoptive order must satisfy itself that all pre-adoption processes have been complied with and most importantly it is in the best interest of the child.
This standard of the best interest of the child is the requirement of the law anytime the subject matter of a case involves children.
– What is the nature of adoptive orders
Upon satisfaction that all conditions for grant has been satisfied the court may first make an Interim Order before making a final adoptive Order.
Interim Order before Adoption Order
The Court may make interim order of custody of the child to the applicant
§ For a maximum 3 month period by way of probation
§ Maintenance, education and supervision of the child
§ Terms and conditions that the court deems necessary
The Court may impose conditions such as Supervision of a probation officer or social welfare officer or Order for the child not to be taken out of country without the permission of the court.
In making these interim order the Court would require the consent of the Consenting person before the order.
It is important to state that an Interim Order shall not be deemed as adopting order.
In Inter-country adoption the Child will be required to be sent to the Receiving State and in this regard the Authority shall make arrangement to monitor the prospective adoptive parent and the child in the Receiving State.
Where the Central Authority realizes the continues placement is not in the best interest of the child, the Central Authority shall inform the authority immediately and in consultation with the authority take any of the following measures:
– Withdraw the child and arrange temporal care
– Arrange a new placement with a view of adoption if the Central authority of the receiving state informs the Authority of the new prospective adoptive parent.
– Arrange long term care
– As a last resort, arrange for the return of the child
– Take any other measures necessary to protect the child
Final Adoption Order:
The Court may after the term of the interim order make the Adoption Order. The Adoption Order must contain the following information:
a. Date and Place of Birth of the Child
b. Name, Sex, and Surname of the Child before and after adoption
c. Name, Surname, Address, Citizenship and occupation of the adopter and
d. The date of the adoption order
The Court is also empowered to make orders requiring the Applicant to enter a bond to make provisions in respect of the child that the court deems necessary. The court needs to ensure that the Adoptive Parent sole purpose for adoption is not giving the child for adoption. This notwithstanding, where there is a genuine adoption which was previously made, the court is not prevented from making a second adoption order if is in the best interest child. In this regard the current adoptive persons shall be deemed as parents for the purpose of the 2nd adoption.
– Disclosure of Adoption to Child:
Due to the sensitive nature of adoption the law reiterates the need to make the whole procedure of adoption confidential. The framers of the law want to ensure that disclosure of the adoption is done in circumstances which will not affect the psychological and emotional state of a child. In this regard, disclosure can only be done if it is in the best interest of the child and the child is at least 14 years. The law even restrict who can disclose adoption to the child to only the adoptive parents and makes it an offence to disclose adoption to the child by any other person.
When the adopted child reaches the age of 21 years he may permitted by the court to look at his/her adoption process.
– Effect of Adoption Order:
The effect of an adoption relates to the transfer of the rights, duties, obligations and liabilities including those under customary law from the adopted child’s parents or guardian, or of any other person connected with the child to the new adoptive parents.
In this regard, the Adoptive parent assumes the parental responsibility of the child including the custody, maintenance, and education of the child as if the child were born to that person. This responsibilities falls on both parents as if they naturally gave birth to the adopted child and it matters not whether the adoption was made jointly by the spouse or with the consent of the other spouse.
The citizenship of the child will be determined by the citizenship of the adopted parents. So for instance if the adoptive parent is a Ghanaian the child will automatically be a Ghanaian especially where the natural parents are non-Ghanaians and the child is 16 years and below.
Where the child is above 16 years, the adoptive parent, if Ghanaian, may apply to the Ministry of Interior for Ghanaian citizenship for the child, in accordance with the Citizenship Act, 2000, Act 591.
In situations where the child adopted was in foster care, upon adoption the foster care arrangement will cease to apply. Adoption marks a new phase of the child’s life. 
– Revocation of Adoption Order:
An adoption order may be revoked in the best interest of the child based on Fraud, Misrepresentation of facts leading to the Grant. Discovery of new information which if known the order would not have been made can also make a court to revoke an adoption order.
VI. POST ADOPTION REQUIREMENTS:
When the adoption order has been made by the court the law mandates for certain administrative steps to be taken by officers of the court as well as the adoptive parents.
The Court Registrar is required to serve a copy of the Adoption Order on the Registrar General Department for them to note same in the Adopted Children’s Register.
TheAdoptive parent is required by the adoption order to get a new birth certificate for the child from the Birth and Death Registry. Upon receipt of the birth certificate the adoptive parent is required to submit a copy of the birth certificate and a certified copy of the adoptive order to the Authority. The Authority shall upon receipt of the birth certificate and adoptive order issue out a CERTIFICATE OF CONFORMITY to the adoptive parent. The information on adoption shall be kept in the Adoption Register by the Authority. All these information are subject to the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843).
They may then apply for necessary travel documents in order to travel with the adopted child out of the jurisdiction of Ghana.
The Authority is empowered by law to enter into agreements with the Central Authority of the Receiving State of the Adopted parents to provide reports every six months during the 1st-2nd years after adoption order and once a year during the following three years. Thus the welfare and upkeep of the child will be monitored for 5 years to know the status of the adopted child. 
VII. OFFENCES UNDER THE LAW:
There is the need for persons who intend to adopt a child in Ghana to also appreciate the criminal law regime regarding the adoption process. This will put persons on notice so as to ensure they are not found at the wrong side of the law as they proceed to give hope and a better future to a child.
It is an offence
– to receive or agree to receive, make or agree to make, give or agree to give any payment or reward for adoption. Upon conviction a fine of not more than 150 penalty units or 1 year in jail or both.
– to procure adoption by fraud or misrepresentation. Upon conviction a fine of not more than 100 penalty units.
– if you give, facilitate or receive a child for the purpose of adoption without the involvement of the Department of Social Welfare Upon conviction a fine of not more than 750 penalty units or not more than 3 years in jail or both. To facilitate contact between an adoptive child or biological parents and the prospective adoptive parent before placement of the child.
– to arrange to have the child retained in the custody of another person
– if for the purpose of having a child adopted, retain the child in the persons custody
– to make or attempt to make an arrangement for the adoption of a child.
The joy of adoption can be met with serious procedural challenges if the person does not know the process of overcoming them. This review of the law will make same simple for would be adoptive parents.
 Section 86P and 86Q of the Act
 Section 86S, 86T and 86U of the Act
 Section 86V , 86W and 86X of the Act
 Section 86Y, and 86Z of the Act
 Section 9 of the Act
 Section 85 of the Act
 Section 86ZD(3)
 Section 86ZE(1)
 Section 86K of the Children’s (Amendement) Act
 Section 80(1)(a)
 Section 80(s) Children’s (Amendment )Act, 2016 (Act 937)
 Section 9 of Act 937
 Section 79(1) of Act 937
 Reg. 27(1), (2) and (3) of L.I. 2360
 Reg. 27(4) of L.I. 2360
 Reg. 45(2)(b) and 46(1) of L.I. 2360
 Section 86L(6)
 Section 86L(7)
 Sect 86I of Act 937
 Section )86(2)(
 Reg. 32(3) of L.I. 2360
 This position is inferred from Section 86L of Act 937 which indicates that the Child Study Report would be considered by the Authority.
 Section 86J of Act 937
 Reg. 35(2) of L.I. 2360
 Section 86L (1)
 Reg. 50(3), (4) and (5)
 Section 86L(3)
 Section 86L(8)
 Section 81
 Section 86ZF(5)
 Section 85(1)
 Section 86A and 86M
 Section 86(4) of the Act
 Section 86(3) of the Act
 Section 83
 Section 86C
 Section 82
 Section 86ZA(4)
 Section 86ZA(5)
 Section 86B
 Section 86ZE(2)
 Section 86ZD(1)
 Section 86ZD(5) : Data Protection Act is the substantive law on the protection and storage of data.
 Section 86O
 Section 87ZF
 Section 86F (7)