Liberia is currently CLOSED to intercountry adoptions.
CCAI GENERAL OVERVIEW ON LIBERIA ADOPTION
Liberia was ravaged by a brutal 14-year civil war that ended in 2005. The issues effecting children during the crisis were devastating – children were separated from or lost their parents, were abandoned by fleeing families, and approximately 12,000 children were used as child soldiers, sex slaves, and laborers. Since the war’s end, Liberia has taken steps to increase the protection of vulnerable children within their borders, but progress has been slow and complicated by further abuses of a system that was broken prior to the war.
Liberia’s adoption laws were written in the 1950s, and only address domestic, not international adoptions. This lack of regulation led quickly to severe abuses by the dramatically increased number of orphanages following the war. Orphans and children whose parents were coerced to parting with them in the hopes of a better life were placed in substandard institutions, subjected to rampant abuse and neglect, and trafficked – including through the processes of lucrative illegal adoptions.
Liberia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993, but is not a signatory to the Hague Convention. Since 2005, it has enacted four pieces of legislation that address the CRC, including Liberia’s 2005 Act to Ban Trafficking. The implementation of these laws is lacking, however, and from January to September of 2009, there were only two cases of trafficking that were investigated by police.
In November 2007, the Liberian Parliament began the revision of its adoption laws in response to the corruption, fraud and mismanagement of the adoption process. In July 2008, the Ministry of Justice began carefully scrutinizing all intercountry adoptions after a series of cases surfaced in which adoptive parents terminated their relationship with their adoptive children, and on January 26, 2009, the government placed a moratorium on all adoption processes until new laws, policies and proper guidelines could be established. This moratorium included both the completion of pending adoptions and the acceptance of new adoption dossiers. No provisions exist under Liberian law for the grandfathering of cases, and only those adoptions that were completely finalized prior to the suspension were cleared.
Since the suspension, an ad-hoc Central Adoption Authority was created in Liberia to oversee adoptions, work on new legislation, strengthen existing laws, and prevent further abuses of the system. The government has promised to make the country’s orphan and vulnerable children a priority, but at this time there is no indication of when the moratorium will be lifted and when both pending and new adoptions will continue.