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Transfer of Parental Rights

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Women today are finding many ways of starting a family. If they cannot find the right partner or their partner is infertile they may choose to have sperm from a sperm bank. Recently the National Broadcasting Company in the United States interviewed some eleven women who produced fourteen children in all from sperm obtained from an anonymous male donor simply dubbed 401.

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Where a woman is unable to get pregnant she may choose to have in vitro fertilization using the eggs of another woman and have the fertilized egg implanted in her womb. Last year a 56-year-old woman in the United States had the fertilized egg of another implanted in her womb and gave birth to twins. Where a woman is incapable of carrying the child, she could have her own fertilized egg implanted in a surrogate mother for that purpose. Despite the different methods of producing a child, adoption remains a reliable and veritable form of adding a new member to the family.

Adoption is the legal transfer of all parental rights and responsibilities from a child’s birth parents to the adoptive parents. Chapter 163 of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Adoption of Children Act (the Act) provides for a child to be adopted in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and overseas.

The process starts with an application to the Adoption board and ends with an order by the High Court. The child to be adopted must be less than eighteen years old.

The person who applies to the Adoption Board for the purpose of adopting a child is called the adopter. A single person or a couple could present the application. The application is prescribed by law and requires some personal information such as the names and addresses, country of domicile, date of birth and religion of the adopter. It must also refer to the sex of the child that is to be adopted and the names of two persons who are able to provide character references for the adopters. The application form must be accompanied by personal health certificates as to the physical and mental health of the adopters. Personal information pertaining to the child and a medical certificate must also be submitted.

The Adoption Board is comprised of seven members, three of which are district magistrates. The magistrates are ex officio members, that is, they are members of the Board because of their status as magistrate. The magistrate of the First district is the chairman of the group. There must be a quorum of four members with at least a magistrate present for any meeting. If for some reason the designated chairman is absent then any other magistrate could chair the proceedings. The members of the board are appointed by the Governor General for a period of two years. The Board has the power to appoint a secretary. Each case is handled by a case committee which is appointed by the Board and which is responsible for the reports.

Personal information relating to the child must be presented to the Board. The document must state whether the parents are alive and their marital status. The Board will forward a memorandum to the parents for their consent to the adoption. After this it will make enquiries and secure reports.

The board has a duty to interview the adopters and to inspect the home where the child will reside in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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