Adoption cases taking too long

There are 21 adoption cases currently working their
way through the legal system in the Cayman Islands
– in four of them, applications were filed more than five years ago.

According to figures given to the Legislative
Assembly Friday, there are two outstanding adoption cases from 2003, one each
from 2004 and 2005, and 15 still to be determined that were filed from 2006
onward.

“Why are these cases taking so long?” asked Opposition
MLA Arden McLean.

Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam said, even in
the best-case scenario, adoption cases will typically take two years to
complete.

Mr. Adam said 33 adoption cases had been resolved
before the Cayman Islands courts since 2002.

However, he said the adoption process faces a number
of roadblocks which neither the applicants nor the government can control.

The minister said delays often occur in obtaining
the child from overseas jurisdictions, with the processing of documentation by
adoption board staff, and with gaining the consent of the child’s biological parents.

The handling of adoption cases can also depend on
the workload of social services employees handling them and the success of a
three-month supervision process when the child is placed in the adoption
applicant’s home.

That supervisory process must occur and receive approval
prior to a Grand Court judge signing off on an adoption order.

Independent MLA Ezzard Miller agreed with Mr. McLean
that the “rather antiquated” adoption process needed to be updated. 

Mr. Adam said draft revisions to the Cayman Islands
Adoption Law had been presented to the legal department and were being
finalised.

“I have experience with this thing and it doesn’t
work,” Mr. McLean said of the current system. “Something has to be done about
this process because it’s taking too long.”

“The Adoption Law and process is only one of many
things under the ministry and we are working on this matter,” Mr. Adam said.

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