exposing the dark side of adoption
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Elderly citizens are now calling on the Kenyan government to encourage Kenyans to adopt AIDS orphans.


Thursday, 28 August 2008
Elderly citizens are now calling on the Kenyan government to encourage Kenyans to adopt AIDS orphans.

Jane Njoki Ndungu is just one of the elderly who has an extra burden of caring for orphans. She is currently caring for little Mercy Mwihaki whose parents died as a result of Hiv/Aids related complications.
For Jane Njoki Ndungu who lives in the heart of the Korogocho slums in Nairobi, life is a constant struggle as she is jobless. Being a widow she does not have any one to help her with the bread winning either. She earns her meager living from washing clothes and she doesn’t get to do it all the time.
When her grand mother doesn’t have money, six year old Mwihaki has too go without food and other basic needs that are important to a six year old.
Mwihaki attends a nearby school and some times she has to miss school as Jane some time lacks the money to pay her school fees.
As though she does not have enough on her plate already, Jane has to take care of a mother in-law suffering from a mental illness as well as a son Mbugua and a daughter .All this put together would kill any other person’s spirit but not Jane.
“It is the will of God. We should learn to accept our situations and move on “, she said during the interview in her mud walled house.
Little Mwihaki doesn’t know that Jane is not her real mother. Jane tries s much as possible to integrate her into her family. She plans to Mwihaki about her parents’ death when she is old enough.
She said, “I don’t want her to grow up feeling sorry for herself”.
Mwihaki’s father, Robert Njehia, was the first one to die and shortly after, the mother Miriam Ngendo followed.
Jane and Mwihaki’s story is replicated all over Kenya. Grand parents are the unsung heroes who go out of their way to take care of children that their own children have left behind. This is because the African culture obligates them to take care of these children.
With about 2 million orphans, Kenya currently ranks third after Ethiopia and Nigeria in among countries that have the largest number of orphaned and vulnerable children according to a UN report.
The burden of taking care of these children has fallen squarely on the shoulder of the grand parents and other relatives.
However this need not be the case.
Children orphaned by AIDS /HIV can be adopted by other citizens since a huge number of them end up in institutions and don’t get a chance to grow up in a family setting. This will go along way into reducing the burden carried by the grandparents.
According to Booby Mkangi, a legal consultant, adopting a child in Kenya is fairly easy.  However, there are steps and requirement that one needs to follow and have that will ensure they get full custody of the child. 
Only man and woman couples can adopt children in Kenya. Males can’t be allowed to adopt children on their own.
Before one can adopt the child they will be required by the law to spend time with the child from time to time so that they can get used to each other.
Social services will monitor the progress between the adopting couple and the child.
Adoption can only be done in a court of law. It is the only body that has the jurisdiction. Foreigners too have to follow some steps.  They too need to spend time with the children they intend to adopt.
Although it was an issue before, the courts are starting to accept couples to adopt children from different races as those of the parents.
Mkangi added that parties involved in the adoption of a child should not exchange any money for whatever reasons.
He asserted that for the adoption to go smoothly, foreigners should meet all the legal requirements in Kenya as well.
Mkangi also emphasized on the permanency of adoption. “Adoption is permanent and irreversible.” He said .once the guardian of the child has accepted the adoption to take place they can’t go back on their decision.
There are several societies that one can go to should they want to adopt a child, according to Mkangi. They are, child welfare societies of Kenya, Kenya Christian Homes under the Barnados and little Angel’s network.
Several milestones have been achieved in the fight against HIV/AIDS since it was first reported in 1984.
The problem of orphaned and vulnerable children is another milestone e have to deal with and adoption may be the way out.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 August 2008 )

2008 Aug 28