From Kuensel Online (Jan 2012)
A joint sitting voted 'yes' after about 4 hours of discourse
Child Adoption Act, 2012: A Bhutanese citizen need not be one of a married couple to adopt a child.
The Parliament yesterday resolved that any Bhutanese can apply for child adoption and passed the Child Adoption Act, 2012.
Of the 68 parliamentarians, excluding the speaker, present at the hall, 67 voted 'yes' to endorse the bill. The Act came about after almost four hours of deliberation during the joint sitting.
Section 26 of the Act, which stated only a married Bhutanese couple could adopt a child during the draft bill, now states, "any Bhutanese citizen can apply for adoption of a child".
The joint committee, which
proposed the change, also amended one of the provisions under section 26,
which stated that, instead of 25 years of age, a person applying for adoption
should be at least 30 years. The child to be adopted should be below 18 years.
The age difference between the adoptive parent and the child to be adopted was
changed to at least 15, instead of 20, years as proposed in the draft.
The same age also applies to non-Bhutanese wanting to adopt a Bhutanese child.
The bill was discussed during
the sixth session by the National Council, and National Assembly members
during the seventh session.
After two hours of discussion, the joint sitting focused on whether to remove the two most discussed sections of the Act, 29 and 30, which state that a child can be adopted by a relative or by a step parent or a family member in the best interest of the child.
The members of both houses
argued that, if sections were kept as they were, it would confuse people,
because section 26 clearly stated that any Bhutanese citizen could adopt the
child, so there was no need of separate sections, when relative themselves
were Bhutanese citizen.
While few members argued the section is necessary because relatives should be given preference to adopt the child if they wished.
However, the houses decided to remove sections 29 and 30, as recommended by the joint committee, reasoning section 26 clarified who could adopt a child. The session ended after both houses added a new section, as recommended by joint committee, to let a Bhutanese national wanting to adopt a foreign child, which was missing in the proposed draft bill.
A new section 37 (a) was
added to the Act, which states a Bhutanese national may adopt a foreign child,
only if the person has resided in the country from which the child is to be
adopted for more than three years, and provide evidence that residing in that
country was not for adoption.
The section also made the home ministry the relevant ministry to issue directives and set limits on the number of inter-country adoptions.
A child should be below nine years of age and a citizen of his/her country, for a Bhutanese to adopt.
By Yangchen C Rinzin