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Justice Zeija Advocates for Adopted Children’s Property Inheritance Rights


Justice Flavian Zeija
Justice Flavian Zeija

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Justice Flavian Zeija, the Principal Judge of the High Court, has emphasized the importance of granting adopted children rights to inherit properties. His remarks were made during the Adoption Awareness Conference held at Hotel African in Kampala, themed “Bringing Hope to a Generation through Adoption,” aimed at fostering a supportive adoption ecosystem in Uganda.

Highlighting the plight of vulnerable children in Uganda, which includes over two million children in precarious situations and approximately 50,000 children in childcare institutions without parental care, Justice Zeija underscored the legal significance of adoption. He asserted that adoption establishes a legal bond akin to biological parenthood, thus warranting inclusion in inheritance rights.

Justice Zeija addressed common misconceptions surrounding adoption, particularly the confusion between adoption and guardianship. He noted that while guardianship may entail temporary care responsibilities by relatives for children whose biological parents are unable to provide care, adoption confers permanent legal status to the child within the adoptive family, entitling them to inheritance rights.

During the conference, participants voiced concerns over the lengthy and costly adoption process in Uganda. Barbara Nankya Mutagubya, Director of Sanyu Babies Home, expressed apprehension over incomplete adoption processes, which leave children vulnerable as they reside in families without legal belonging. Don Wamara, Executive Director of Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN), highlighted bureaucratic challenges that delay adoptions, including overwhelming probation officers with excessive processes.

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According to the Ugandan Children’s Act, prospective adoptive families must foster children for at least one year before initiating the adoption process. Adoption fees, encompassing court and legal professional charges, vary, with court fees typically below USD 20 and legal professional fees ranging from USD 2,500 to USD 3,500.

Responding to concerns raised, Justice Zeija acknowledged the challenges regarding legal fees, noting the judiciary’s limited control over attorneys’ charges. However, he recommended a reasonable cap on legal fees, particularly for cases involving child adoption, suggesting an upper limit of two million shillings to ensure affordability and accessibility for adoptive families.

Table: Adoption Process in Uganda

Stage Description
Foster Care Prospective adoptive families foster children for a minimum of one year
Court Process Adoption proceedings are initiated in court, involving legal and administrative steps
Legal Fees Adoption fees cover court charges and legal professional fees
Inheritance Rights Adopted children are entitled to inheritance rights, similar to biological children

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