“Adopting a child won't change the world but for that child the world will change”
Adoption is a difficult but noble choice. Although adoption entails undying commitment and responsibility to provide a loving home to the child, it will also bring joy and happiness to the family.
The purpose of this article is to explain the law and the process of the adoption of children under Adoption Act 1952 (“the 1952 Act”). The 1952 Act is applicable only to Non-Muslim in the Peninsular of Malaysia.
Who can apply? (Section 4 of the 1952 Act)
The applicant must be ordinarily resident in Peninsular Malaysia and;
- has attained the age of 25 and is at least 21 years older than the child;
- has attained the age of 21 and is a relative of the child; or
- is the mother or father of the child.
Who can be adopted? (Section 2 & 4 of the 1952 Act)
The child must be ordinarily resident in Peninsular Malaysia and;
- unmarried person under the age of 21 and includes a female under that age who has been divorced; and
- has been continuously in the care and possession of the applicant for at least 3 consecutive months immediately preceding the date of the order.
Consent of Parent or Guardian (Section 5 of the 1952 Act)
- The applicant must obtain the consent from the parent or guardian of the child in respect of whom the application is made or who is liable to contribute to the support of the child.
- However, such consent may be dispensed by the court where;
- the parent or guardian of the child has abandoned, neglected or persistently ill-treated the child;
- the person liable to contribute to the support of the child has persistently neglected or refused so to contribute; or
- the person whose consent is required cannot be found or is incapable of giving his consent or that his consent is unreasonably withheld.
- An application may be made either in Sessions Court or High Court by way of Originating Summons supported by Affidavit.
- A Social Welfare Officer will be appointed by the Court as guardian ad litem to prepare a welfare report by investigating as fully as possible all the circumstances of the child and the applicant, and all other matters relevant to the proposed adoption (Section 12 of the 1952 Act).
- The attendance in court of the applicant, the person whose consent is required and the child are required unless it is dispensed by the Court.
- The Court will consider the welfare of the child, wishes of the child, having regard to the age and understanding of the child and the welfare report prepared by the Social Welfare Officer in deciding whether or not to grant the adoption order.
- The entire process could take between four (4) to six (6) months subject to the complexity of each case.
Effect of the Adoption Order (Section 9 & 25A of the 1952 Act)
- All rights, duties, obligations and liabilities of the parent and guardian of the adopted child in relation to the future custody, maintenance and education of the adopted child shall be extinguished.
- The adopted child will be deemed as a child born to the adopter in lawful wedlock. This includes the right of inheritance of the adopter’s estate.
- The Registrar shall not include the word “adopted”, “adopter” or “adoptive” or any word to like effect shall not appear in the Birth Certificate of the child.