Overseas Adoption Information
Overseas Adoption Information
Trinidad and Tobago
Hague Adoption Convention Country? No
Hague Convention Information
Trinidad and Tobago is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (“Hague Adoption Convention”). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, section 204.3 as it relates to “orphans” as defined under section 101 (b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Trinidad and Tobago has updated its law on the adoption of children with effect from May 2015 and has now made specific provision for overseas adoption. The only body that is permitted to manage the local adoption process is the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (“the Authority”), which has replaced the former Adoption Board. A local Adoption Order may only be made by the Court, and the Court may not entertain an application unless it is supported by a recommendation from the Authority.
There are two types of adoption procedures in Trinidad and Tobago – one for an Adoption Order to be granted locally, and the other, which addresses overseas adoption, is an application for a transfer order which permits the care and control of a child to be transferred to a person resident overseas where adoption arrangements have been made or are likely to be made. A transfer order is not required where the transfer is to a parent, step-parent, guardian or relative of the child. A “relative” means a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt, whether related to the child by blood or marriage.
A transfer order facilitates an adoption taking place outside of Trinidad and Tobago. It is made by the Court, after evidence is presented as to the suitability of the proposed overseas adopter, and there can be conditions and requirements attached to the Order. The Court will be guided by the best interest of the child, and the wishes of the child having regard to his age and understanding.
An Adoption Order signifies a full and final adoption under the laws of Trinidad and Tobago and is available to nationals and non-nationals, whether or not they are resident or domiciled in Trinidad and Tobago. An Adoption Order legally generates a new certificate which shows the child’s date of birth, new parentage, place of birth and new name.
Process for Transfer Order
- Who can apply
The application must be made by or with the consent of every person or body who is a parent or guardian of the child, or who has custody of the child, or a person who is liable to contribute to the support of the child.
- Conditions to be satisfied for the grant of a Transfer Order:
Ø The child must be the subject of adoption proceedings outside of Trinidad and Tobago and adoption arrangements either have been made or are likely to be made.
Ø Written consent of every person or body who is a parent or guardian of the child or who has custody of the child, or who is liable to contribute to the support of the child, is required unless the Court dispenses with such consent in accordance with the Adoption of Children Act, 2000.
Ø The child must be under 18 years of age.
Ø The Court must be satisfied that the transfer is in the child’s best interest and may require an assessment report to be prepared in respect of the child.
Ø A suitability report prepared by an accredited agency in the country of residence in respect of the person/s to whom the child is proposed to be transferred, must be submitted with the application to the Court. A Letter of Undertaking by the agency which conducted the suitability study, agreeing to supervise the placement of the child until the adoption is completed, and beyond if necessary, should accompany the suitability report.
- Travel to Trinidad and Tobago
The prospective adopters to whom the child is proposed to be transferred may be expected to travel to Trinidad and Tobago if the Court requires their presence at the hearing.
- Age and income of prospective adopters to whom child is to be transferred
No age limits are prescribed under the law. However, the Court will consider what is in the best interest of the child. There are also no specific income requirements but the prospective adopters will be expected to provide documents relaying their income status.
Transfer of child overseas process for an Adoption Order
The process for adopting a child from Trinidad and Tobago generally includes the following steps:
1. Apply to be found eligible to adopt;
2. Be matched with a child;
3. Adopt the child in Trinidad and Tobago;
4. Bring your child home.
1. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
In order to adopt a child from Trinidad and Tobago, you will need to meet the requirements of the Trinidad and Tobago Adoption of Children Act, 2000 and the Immigration law in your territory. An application form to be found eligible to adopt in Trinidad and Tobago must be submitted to the Children’s Authority. The online application can be found on the Children’s Authority website.
The application must be accompanied by:
- photo identification;
- names and contact information of three referees;
- a police certificate of character issued within six months before the application in respect of the Applicant and each member of the household over eighteen years;
- a medical certificate of fitness as set out in the approved form except where the Applicant is the natural parent of the child (unless requested by the Authority); and
- a written assessment of the Applicant’s suitability and the suitability of the home of the Applicant conducted by an accredited agency in the Applicant’s country of residence.
The Children’s Authority verifies the contents of the prospective adopters’ home study by writing to the home study agency. The Authority may also conduct such further investigations that it considers necessary.
In addition, the Children’s Authority will require the following documents:
- marriage or death certificate (where a spouse is deceased), where applicable;
- decree absolute, where applicable;
- decree of judicial separation, where applicable;
- employment records;
- statement of income and savings; and
- any other information as considered necessary by the Authority.
Who can adopt
The following applies to the adoption of a child in Trinidad and Tobago:
- An applicant may be a single person, male or female;
- Adoption by more than one person is only permitted where they are a married couple (restricted to a union between a man and a woman). Married spouses may apply jointly or one spouse may apply with the consent of the other. A married person may apply without the consent of the other spouse only where they have separated and are living apart from each other and the separation is likely to be permanent.
- There are currently no residency or nationality restrictions regarding who can adopt in Trinidad and Tobago. There are also no age limits or income requirements prescribed. However, the Authority has the discretion to determine eligibility to adopt after consideration of the application and the Applicant’s suitability. Moreover, the Court has an overall discretion whether or not to grant an adoption order and must be satisfied that the adoption would be in the best interest of the child and that the person applying for an adoption order is a fit person to have custody of the child and is of sufficient ability to raise, maintain and educate the child.
Be matched with a child
Once a prospective adoptive parent is found eligible to adopt from Trinidad and Tobago, the Children’s Authority will make the necessary arrangements for the prospective adoptive parent to be matched with a child. The following criteria must be met:
- The child must be under eighteen (18) years of age and has never been married.
- The child is assessed by the Authority to be suitable for adoption.
- The required consents of every person or body who is a parent or guardian of the child or who has custody of the child, or who is liable to contribute to the support of the child, must be given unless the Court dispenses with consent.
- Where the Authority is satisfied that the placement of the child with the prospective adopter would be in the best interest of the child it will approve the placement.
- A probationary period up to a maximum of six months must be satisfied unless reduced or waived by the Authority.
- If the child is already identified by an applicant, the eligibility of the applicant to adopt must still be determined and the Authority must also determine whether the adoption of that child by that person (applicant) is in the best interest of the child.
Adopt the child in Trinidad and Tobago
- An application will be made to the Court on the recommendation of the Authority for the grant of an Adoption Order. The following applies:
- The Court must be satisfied that the welfare and the best interest of the child will be promoted by the adoption and that the person applying for the Adoption Order is a fit person to have the custody of the child and of sufficient ability to raise, maintain and educate the child.
- The views of the child, having regard to his age and understanding, will be taken into account.
- Due consideration will be given to the religious denominations of the child and the adopters and to the wishes of the child in relation to this issue having regard to the age and understanding of the child.
- In making an Adoption Order, the Court may impose terms and conditions as it thinks fit.
- The Court may also make an order for a probationary period not exceeding six months and in this case will grant an interim Adoption Order.
Documents required for the Adoption Order (Court application):
- Suitability report prepared by the accredited agency in the country of residence.
- A report of the Authority on the suitability and capacity of the prospective adoptive parent to care adequately for the child.
- Birth certificates of prospective adoptive parent and child.
- Documents verifying income status and employment of prospective adoptive parent.
- Written consents by every person or body who is a parent or guardian of the child or who has custody of the child, or who is liable to contribute to the support of the child.
- Original or certified copy of marriage certificate or death certificate or certificate of judicial separation (where applicable).
Travel to Trinidad and Tobago for local adoption process
The prospective adoptive parent will be expected to travel to Trinidad and Tobago:
- to satisfy a period of probation as may be determined by the Authority, in accordance with section 12 of the Adoption of Children Act, and
- to attend the Court hearing for the Adoption Order.
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago
35A Wrightson Road
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 627-0748, (868) 623-7555
- Role of Adoptive Agency
The laws of Trinidad and Tobago make it illegal for any person or agency other than the Children’s Authority to make arrangements for the adoption of a child.
- Application for an Adoption Order
The local adoption process begins with the prospective adoptive parent filing a formal application with the Children’s Authority.
- Application for a Transfer Order
The application for a Transfer Order begins with an application made to the Court.
- Time Frame
Adoption Orders may take in excess of six months, depending on the circumstances of the case. Transfer Orders may take between four to six months or more, depending on the circumstances of the case.
- Adoption Fees
Adoption in Trinidad and Tobago is currently free.