Appellate court dismisses adoption appeal

Appellate court dismisses adoption appeal

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The appellate court has dismissed the civil appeal of a married couple to adopt a child, upholding the lower court’s determination to refuse the adoption application on the basis that the “true motivation” was to achieve citizenship.

Milton McPhee, a Bahamian, and Sheriffa McPhee, a Jamaican, were named as the appellants.

They were married in 2010.

Milton McPhee is the stepfather of the named child while Sheriffa is the biological mother of the girl who was almost 17 at the time of the application in October 2017.

The child’s biological father is also Jamaican, according to court documents.

The application was heard in September 2018, three months prior to the teen becoming 18.

Supreme Court Madam Justice Donna Newton refused the application in October 2019.

The named ‘child’ was 19 at the time of the judge’s decision.

The judge found that that due to the fact the child was on the eve of her 19th birthday at the time of the ruling was give, the court had no authority to make an adoption order, notwithstanding that the application was made when the child was 16; there was conflicting information regarding the date of birth of the child; and that in the circumstances aforementioned, making the order would not be for the welfare of the child.

The appellants sought an order from the Court of Appeal granting the adoption.

The appellants appealed on the basis that the judge’s findings were erroneous and their right of due process was denied throughout the trial by ruling against the application without having requested additional information or challenged the validity of the evidence, among other reasons, including the application being made 14 months prior to the child’s 18th birthday.

In the ruling, the justices of the Court of Appeal said: “In Inasmuch as we are satisfied that the appeal may be resolved on Ground 1 alone, we do not propose to enter into a consideration of the other Grounds because even if they were all resolved in favour of the appellants, that success could not translate into a basis for overturning the Judge’s decision.

According to the Adoption of Children Act, a judge of the Supreme Court may authorize an adoption of a person under the age of 18.

However, the act does not make provision for an adoption order to be granted where the child in question has reached the age of majority.

“The adoption process is an entirely statutory construct,” the appellate court said.

“Therefore, unless there is a statutory provision which addresses the issue of a child for whom an adoption application has been made but who attains the age of 18 before an adoption order is made, a judge has no power to make the adoption order.”

Court of Appeal Justices Jon Isaacs, Sir Michael Barnett and Milton Evans presided over the matter.

Attorney Syneisha Bootle appeared on behalf of the appellants.

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