The Concept of Adoption Order in Nigerian Law

The Child's Right Act, 2003 provides for adoption of a child in Nigeria. An application for adoption is made to the High (Family) Court accompanied with the following documents;

(a) Where the applicant is a married couple, their marriage certificate or a sworn declaration of marriage;

(b) The birth certificate or sworn declaration of age of each applicant;

(c) 2 passport photographs of each applicant;

(d) A medical certificate of the fitness of the applicant from a Government hospital; and

(e) Such other documents, requirements and information as the Court may require for the purposes of the adoption.

In practice, the Court prefers that an applicant must have fulfilled the condition precedent at the Child Welfare Department and obtain a report stating that the applicant is a proper person to adopt the child. The report would accompany the application for adoption.

Upon receipt of an application for adoption, the Court shall order an investigation to be conducted by child development officers or a supervision officer or such other persons as the Court may determine, to enable the Court to assess the suitability of the applicant as an adopter and of the child to be adopted.

The Court shall, in reaching a decision relating to the adoption of a child, have regard to all the circumstances, first consideration being given to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare and the best interest of the child throughout the childhood of that child and ascertaining, as far as practicable, the wishes and feelings of the child regarding the decision and giving due consideration to those wishes and feelings, having regard to the age and understanding of the child.

Perhaps the most obvious legal effect of an adoption order is that it severs all parental rights and obligations between the juvenile and his natural parents. It establishes the legal relationship of parents and legitimate child between the adopter and the adopted juvenile.

Who can adopt a child in Nigeria?

Both single individuals and married couples may adopt. Note that a single person will not be allowed to adopt a child of the opposite sex except in extraordinary circumstances. In most states, married couples must adopt jointly. If married, both members of the couple must be Nigerian citizens.

Adoption is "the statutory process of terminating a child's legal rights and duties towards the natural parents and substituting similar rights and duties towards adoptive parents".

 It is also an order vesting the parental rights and duties relating to a child in the adopters, made on their application by an authorized court.

The Child Rights Act 2003 (CRA) is the principle legislation regulating adoption in Nigeria, and it sets out the required qualifications a person must fulfil to be eligible to adopt a child.

As regards age, the CRA states that the applicant must not be less than 25 years of age and must be at least 21 years older than the child.

In conclusion, for adoption to take place, the Court (family Court where the child resides) is vested with powers to grant an adoption order depending on the type of adoption taking place.

Step 1 - Pre-approval from the State Welfare Agency.

Step 2 - Application to the Court.

Step 3 - Court directed investigation by State Government Welfare Agency.

Step 4 - Recommendation by Welfare Officer.

Step 5 - Court order.

Step 6 - Final Documentation.


- Wikipedia, meaning of adoption. Last accessed 11-05-22

- Look at this: Steps to Legally Adopt a Child in Nigeria -

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