By Alva M. Wolokolie
An act to amend chapter 4, sub-chapter C part 1&2 of the Domestic Relation Law which seeks to provide the platform for children adoption in the country has frowned on individuals or same sex couples (Gay or Lesbian) adopting children in the country when passed into law by the National Legislature.
The Act was passed into law by the House of Representatives in 2011 and follows section 4.73 of the Hague Convention on the adoption of the child. It is expected to meet the concurrence of the Liberian Senate but several Senators have expressed concerns regarding the passage of the bill.
Senator Joseph N. Nagbe of Sinoe County who chaired the Senate Standing Committee Judiciary told plenary yesterday at its 37th day sitting of the 2nd Session that the bill should be passed because it seeks to address inter-country adoption. According to Senator Nagbe the proposed bill also intends to be examined by the court whether the person vying for the adoption and the adopted parents are mentally sound, financially potent to cater to the child they want to adopt and morally upright to take full responsibility of that child.
The Sinoe County Senator explained that when the bill is passed by the Senate, it will prohibit same-sex couples from adopting children in the country. He said the amended bill also stressed the need for the child to be at least 12 months before adoption and said parents should be of the age 25 years and 18 years older than the child to be adopted.
Senator Nagbe indicated it was not a strange legal practice to amend provisions of the law as means of addressing issues that affects the lives of the people. He told plenary that it was prudent for parents of the adopted child/children to consult a lawyer before allowing someone to carry out the adoption.
But some of the Senators including Pro-Tempt Gbehzongar Findley, Geraldine Doe- Sheriff, Isaac Nyenabo, Nyonblee Lawrence, George Tengbeh, Sumo Kupee and Theodore Momoh among others were of the view that clarity needed to be provided further before the passage.
Senator Clarice Alpha Jah of Margibi County providing information regarding the essence of the adoption said that some parents abandoned their child/children in terms of support. These children she maintained were living in abject poverty and there was a need for their lives to be improved.
She noted that when the child/children are adopted, the adopted parent(s) will have the legitimate claim to change phone numbers at the will because that child/children will no longer bear the name of the biological parents.
Some senators argued on ground that the same-sex couple was not needed within the bill because the country has no law concerning such.
However members of the senate agreed in plenary that the bill be sent once more to committee room for a period of one week after which all concerns will by then be addressed and brought to the plenary for passage.