There were 86 child adoptions in the country between 2007 and October 2017 according to records maintained by the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC).
The adoptions were done through the NCWC, which permits the adoption based on the Child Adoption Act of Bhutan 2012 and Child Adoption Rules and Regulation of Bhutan 2015.
According to the Act and regulations there are three types of adoptions: domestic adoption, inter-country adoption and adoption from outside Bhutan.
Of the 86 adoptions till date, 69 were domestic adoptions and 17 adoptions were inter-country adoptions. There were no adoptions from outside Bhutan.
NCWC statistics show no domestic adoption in 2009 and 2010, no inter-country adoption between 2012 and 2015 and in 2017.
A NCWC official said that any child, within the age of one to 18, can be adopted but must be a genuine Bhutanese.
For Domestic adoption section 28 of Child Adoption Act (CAA) of Bhutan 2012 states that a Bhutanese below 18 years can be adopted if the adoptee, prior to the adoption has been consistently considered and treated by the adopting parent as one’s own child since childhood; a child whose parent, guardian or adopting parent, has died; or any other child that the competent authority has taken cognizance of as being in difficult circumstances.
Section 35 states that no person shall give consent for adoption until the child attains six months of age except if after the birth of the child, the biological mother dies or where exceptional circumstances exist.
Similarly, section 27 states that an application for adoption may be made by a Bhutanese Citizen who is of good moral character; financially secure; not convicted of a crime; capable of support and care for child; and is at least 30 years of age and the age difference between the adopting parent and the child to be adopted is at least 15 years.
Likewise there are certain criteria and procedures to be followed for inter-domestic adoption and adoption of a child from outside country.
NCWC collects all required and verified documents and sends it to court of relevant jurisdiction to legalise the process. For inter-country adoption, it has to go through the high court.
After it is cleared from court the process goes to Department of Civil Registration and Census (DCRC) for censes transfer. When all the procedures are done, NCWC monitors the child every two years until the age of 18.
Monitoring is done to ensure adoption remains in the best interest of the child and it meets the country’s legal requirements. NCWC provides services like counseling, home visit, assistance and referral and any other services necessary.
Adoption does not involve monetary transactions and is considered an offence of bribery. Section 62 states that a person shall be guilty of the offence of receipt of a payment, if a person receives any payment, reward, favour or consideration in relation to adoption or proposed adoption of a child. Thereby, the offence of receipt of payment shall be an offence of bribery.
The offence of presenting forged consent or other documents is a felony of fourth degree. Section 66 states that a person shall be guilty of presenting forged consent or other document, if a person presents, or causes to be presented, to the Court in connection with an application for an order for the adoption, or recognition of the adoption, of a child under this Act a document: (a) Purporting to be an adoption document that the persons knows is forged; or (b) bears any signature or certification that was obtained by fraud, duress, through inducement of monetary compensation or favours.