Samoa government proposes extra requirements for adoption of children

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi says, you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.

Tuilaepa made the comment while addressing concerns about the Government’s initiative to amend local adoption laws.

“If you are caring for that child as your biological son or daughter, then why worry? Why panic when you are innocent of any wrongdoing? “Why fret when you know that you’re not breaking any laws by exploiting the adopted child for financial gains or used him or her as free labour under unearthly conditions?,” he added.

And Tuilaepa warns that the amendments which he has instructed the Attorney General to draft and submit to Parliament for review are designed to try and prevent Samoan children adopted to families overseas from being exploited during his administrations’ watch. 

“The amendments are designed to protect Samoan children put up for adoptions from being abused and exploited,” he reiterated. 

To that effect, government plans to add extra requirements to current laws which will apply to all adopting parents residing overseas, even if they are Samoan citizens.

Samoan Citizens, residing overseas are exempted at this time from the extra scrutiny.

The additional requirement will mandate all adopting parents to appear before court to present their application.

This does not include a review of the proposed adoption by the Attorney General’s Office.

This is in addition to a review by the AG's Office which will include previous history of adopting parents, and an evaluation of means and the findings will be presented to the Court for their final consideration.

The amendments were prompted after complaints from children who have been adopted were received and passed back to Samoan authorities including the Prime Minister and the AG Offices and by overseas government agencies. 

Commenting on the amendments, Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff reiterated the government’s concerns.

“I would describe it as a cry for help, and there is more than sufficient evidence for government to instruct my office take proactive step at this time to review current laws, as opposed to waiting for serious cases to arise in the future.”

Lemalu added that the full proportionate scale of Samoan adopted children being exploited will be evaluated as part of the steps for legislative reforms. 

“As stated, there is enough to warrant a proactive move now,” he said.