Chapter 1 Preliminary 2
Chapter 2 Principles and Objectives 2
Chapter 3 Pre-Adoption Process and Service Provider 4
Chapter 4 Domestic Adoption 9
Chapter 5 Inter-Counrty Adoption 10
Chapter 6 Consent to Adoption 12
Chapter 7 Adoption Procedure and Orders 14
Chapter 8 Effect of Adoption Order 18
Chapter 9 Offences 20
Chapter 10 Miscellaneous 23
WHEREAS, it is expedient that for the full and harmonious
development of a child’s personality, a child must grow up in a
family and social environment of love, care and happiness;
AND WHEREAS, it is envisioned and deemed necessary to
take appropriate measures to ensure that the adoptions are made
in the best interests of the child and provide for procedure and
mechanism to facilitate monitoring the well-being of child and
to prevent abduction, sale or trafficking in children.
Parliament of the Kingdom of Bhutan do hereby enact the
Child Adoption Bill of Bhutan 2012 on the 12th Day of the 12th
Month of Iron Female Rabbit Year of the Bhutanese Calendar
corresponding to the 5th day of January, 2012 at its 8th Session of
the First Parliament as follows:
short Title, Commencement and extent
1. This Act shall:
(a) Be called the CHILD ADOPTION ACT OF BHUTAN
(b) Come into force on the 4th Day of 4th Month of the
Water Male Dragon Year of the Bhutanese Calendar
corresponding to the 25th Day of May 2012; and
(c) Extend to whole of Bhutan or otherwise within the
jurisdiction of Bhutan.
Repeal and saving
2. This Act hereby supersedes the provisions of any law,
bye law, resolutions related to child adoption that is
inconsistent with this Act. However, the adoption effected
before the commencement of this Act shall continue to
have force under this Act.
PRInCIPles anD obJeCTIVes
Principles and objectives
3. The best interest and continued well being of the child
shall be the primary consideration for adoption and a child
shall have the right to express one’s own views concerning
4. During the course of adoption, the child shall be protected
from physical or psychological harm caused, or that may
be caused, by being subjected or exposed to abuse, ill-
treatment, violence or other behaviours.
5. An inter-country adoption may be considered as an
alternative means for a child for whom a suitable adopting
parent cannot be found in the country.
6. It shall be the State policy to safeguard and prevent a child
from unnecessary separation from biological parents.
7. Measures necessary for the protection of a child’s interest
including child’s ethnic, religion, cultural and linguistic
background of every adoption shall be ensured.
8. The objectives of this Act are:
(a) To ensure that adoption takes place in the best
interest of the child with respect to his or her
fundamental rights as recognized under the laws;
(b) To establish uniform adoption process; and
(c) To ensure that the domestic and inter-country
adoption processes are in consonance to
international norms, practices and standards.
PRe-aDoPTIon PRoCess anD seRVICe PRoVIDeR
authority to provide adoption services
9. The National Commission for Women and Children or any
other agency designated by the Government shall be the
Competent Authority under this Act.
10. The Competent Authority may provide adoption services
of all nature with respect to a child, and may accredit a
civil society organization to provide adoption services.
11. The Competent Authority shall:
(a) Provide adoption services in relation to domestic
and inter-country adoption of a Bhutanese child;
(b) Accredit and monitor recognized agencies and
institutions of adoption both within and outside the
(c) Determine the form and contents of the application
(d) Provide post adoption monitoring and evaluation
through an established procedure;
(e) Assess and determine suitability of prospective
(f) Facilitate transfer of the care and responsibility of
a child to the adopting parent or to a person who
adopts the child;
(g) Frame necessary rules and procedure for adoption;
(h) Prescribe adoption and other fees for domestic and
(i) Assist other concerned agencies and the Courts in
the implementation of this Act; and
(j) Provide for any other services to facilitate
implementation of this Act.
application for accreditation
12. A civil society organization shall apply to the Competent
Authority for accreditation as an adoption service provider
for the purpose of providing adoption services.
13. An application for accreditation shall:
(a) Be in writing;
(b) Specify address of the principal office in Bhutan;
(c) Specify the principal officer of the organization;
(d) Provide the details of services the organization
seeks to provide.
14. An application for accreditation under Section 13 shall be
submitted along with the following documents:
(a) A copy of the articles of association;
(b) Evidence of the applicant’s capacity to provide
(c) A working plan of such adoption services;
(d) A financial statement of such an organization
evidencing its financial capacity; and
(e) Documents and evidences demonstrating
professional capacity of the principal persons
responsible for the organization.
15. The Competent Authority shall determine an application
for accreditation for the purpose of providing adoption
service or refuse accreditation.
16. If the Competent Authority accepts accreditation of the
organization under Section 15, the authority may by
notification authorize the service provider to provide such
17. The accredited organization shall be required to appoint
a principal officer for the purpose of this Act. If the
application is granted by the Competent Authority, such
principal officer must have at least one year experience in
child welfare administration and the required qualifications
in social administration, psychology or sociology to
perform the duty of assessing the adoption suitability of a
child and the adopting parent.
18. The Competent Authority shall in writing specify to
the principal officer of that service provider necessary
conditions to be complied with upon accreditation.
Revocation of accreditation
19. The Competent Authority may at any time revoke or
suspend the accreditation of an adoption service provider
if there exists reasonable ground to believe such service
provider contravenes the provisions of this Act or otherwise
believe that its institutional capacity is not commensurate
to its role.
20. The revocation or suspension shall be by notice in writing
given to the principal officer of that service provider.
21. The Competent Authority shall publish such notice of
suspension or revocation of the service provider in the
22. The revocation of accreditation shall take effect
immediately after the notice is served to the principal
officer of the service provider.
23. The Competent Authority or accredited agency shall
provide pre-adoption counselling services to the following:
(a) Biological parents on any decision to relinquish
their child for adoption before the decision become
(b) Prospective adopting parents to resolve possible
adoption issues and to prepare them for effective
(c) Prospective adoptee for understanding of the
nature, effect and consequences of adoption.
location of unknown parent
24. It shall be the duty of the Child Welfare Officer appointed
under the Child Care and Protection Act to make every
possible effort to locate the biological parents and
guardian. In the event such effort fails, the child may be
recommended for adoption.
25. A provision duly agreed upon in relation to the adoption
of a child shall be planned before the adoption is effected.
Such plan may include the exchange of information with
respect to the child’s medical background or condition,
and any other matter relating to adoption of the child as
prescribed by the rules made under this Act.
26. Without limiting the matters for which an adoption plan
may be made, such plan may set out the ways in which the
child is to be assisted to develop to a healthy and positive
life including financial assistance and other assistance
required by a child.
Who may adopt
27. Subject to this Act, an application for adoption of a child
may be made by a Bhutanese Citizen who:
(a) Is of good moral character;
(b) Is financially secure;
(c) Is not convicted of a crime;
(d) Is capable of support and care for child; and
(e) Is at least 30 years of age and the age difference
between the adopting parent and the child to be
adopted shall be at least 15 years.
Who may be adopted
28. Subject to this Act, the following Bhutanese child may be
(a) A child below eighteen years of age;
(b) A person of legal age if, prior to the adoption,
said person has been consistently considered and
treated by the adopting parent as one’s own child
(c) A child whose parent, guardian or adopting parent
has died; or
(d) Any other child that the Competent Authority
has taken cognizance of as being in difficult
29. The citizenship of an adopted child shall be bound by the
Who may adopt
30. A foreign national may adopt a Bhutanese child if the
a) Is at least thirty years of age at the time of filing
an application for adoption and the age difference
between the adopting parent and the child to be
adopted shall be at least 15 years;
b) If married, a written consent of the spouse is
c) Has the capacity to act and assume all rights and
responsibilities of a parent under one’s national
d) Is not convicted of a crime involving moral
turpitude or other offences;
e) Is eligible to adopt under one’s national laws;
f) Pays adoption and other fees;
g) Undertakes to provide inheritance to the adopted
h) Is in a position to provide proper care and support
and to give necessary moral values to the adopted
i) Submit an undertaking that the adopting
parents will submit status report of the child
to the Bhutanese Embassy/Consulate/Mission/
31. A Bhutanese National may adopt a foreign child only if the
person, in addition to Section 30:
a. Has resided in the country from which the child
is to be adopted for more than three years and is
able to produce evidence that the primary reason
for residing in that country was not for adoption;
b. Has not more than one child biological or otherwise.
32. The Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs shall be the
relevant Ministry to issue directives and set limits on the
number of inter-country adoption.
Who may be adopted
33. Subject to this Act, the person mentioned under Section 28
may be adopted. However, in case of a Bhutanese citizen
adopting a foreign child, that child shall be 9 years of age
and below and a citizen of his or her country.
ConsenT To aDoPTIons
Consent of parent and guardian
34. The Court shall make an adoption order in relation to a
child only upon submitting consent of the child’s parents
35. No person shall give consent for adoption until the child
attains six months of age except if after the birth of the
child, the biological mother dies or where exceptional
opinion and wishes of a child
36. The Court shall make an adoption order in relation to a
child upon fulfilment of the following conditions:
(a) The child has been counselled;
(b) The opinion has been given freely without false
promise, coercion, or inducement by payment or
compensation of any kind; and
(c) The opinion and wishes of the child has been taken
into consideration by way of securing the child’s
form of consent
37. Consent for the purposes of this Act shall be evidenced by
an instrument of consent in accordance with the prescribed
form signed by the person giving the consent.
38. Consent to adoption may also be given by the Competent
Authority provided the child has been kept under the care
and protection of the authority before the child is adopted.
39. The signing of the instrument of consent must be witnessed
by an independent and competent person.
40. Consent shall be considered defective if obtained by fraud,
duress, or other improper means, where the instrument
of consent has been altered without authority, or the
instrument of consent was signed before the birth of a
Revocation of consent
41. The consent for adoption may be revoked by notice in
writing to the Competent Authority or the Court before the
adoption order has been issued.
aDoPTIon PRoCeDURe anD oRDeRs
application for inter-country adoption
42. Application for inter-country adoption shall be filed only
by the Competent Authority and such application shall be
supported by the following documents:
a) Birth Certificate of the applicant and of the child;
b) Passport copies and passport size photographs of
the applicant and recent postcard-size pictures of the
child and ones immediate family;
c) Marriage contract, if married, and divorce decree, if
d) If married, written consent of the spouse should be
e) Written consent of the parent or guardian of the child;
f) Written agreement between a biological parent or
guardian and the applicant;
g) Document on home study by a recognized organization
in home country;
h) Medical fitness certificate of the applicant;
i) Documents showing the financial capability of the
j) Annual financial statements on income earned;
k) Character reference from the local authority, the
applicant’s employer or from a member of the
immediate community who has known the applicant
for at least five years;
l) Certification by the Competent Authority that the
adoption is within permissible limits;
m) Certification that once the adoption process is
completed, the child as a member of the family shall
be accorded same rights and privileges as a biological
child including rights to inheritance;
n) Certification that status reports on the child shall be
carried out by a certified and recognized organization;
o) Any other necessary document that Competent
Authority and the Court may require.
application for domestic adoption
43. An application for domestic adoption shall be filed only
by the Competent Authority or a person designated by the
Government and such application shall be supported by
the following documents:
(a) Birth Certificate or the Citizenship Identity Card
of the applicant;
(b) Citizenship Identity Card of the adopting parent
and the child’s parent or guardian;
(c) Recent passport size photographs of both the child
and the adopting parent;
(d) Written consent of the parents or guardian;
(e) Birth Certificate of the child;
(f) Letter of undertaking from the adopting parents to
give share of inheritance to the adopting child;
(g) A letter recommending adoption issued by the
Competent Authority or by the child welfare
(h) Written agreement between a biological parent or
guardian and adopting parent; and
(i) Any other necessary document that Competent
Authority and the Court may require.
Jurisdiction and authority
44. No Court except the High Court of Bhutan shall accept an
application for an inter-country adoption.
45. The High Court may not entertain such application if the
Court is of the view that it is not in the best interest of the
46. The High Court shall have the original jurisdiction to hear
the matters concerning an inter-country adoption of a child.
47. The Dungkhag or Dzongkhag Court shall have the original
jurisdiction to hear matters concerning domestic adoption.
48. All parties to the adoption whether domestic or inter-
country shall be present in person during the Court hearing.
49. The preliminary hearing may be held by the Court after the
petition for adoption has been filed before an appropriate
Court at any time before the making of an adoption order.
50. The Court may issue any interim order after the preliminary
hearing in relation to any matters pertaining to adoption.
51. An interim order in relation to a child ceases to have effect
on the making of an order for the adoption.
52. The Court shall make an adoption order in relation to a
child if the Court is satisfied that:
(a) The best interests of the child will be promoted by
(b) The wishes and opinions of the child have been
ascertained and respected; and
(c) It does not violate any other law of the country where
the child is adopted.
53. The adoption order shall also contain the discharge order
of the child, including orders relating to:
(a) The name and sex of the child;
(b) The ownership of the property as per the national
(c) The parental care and responsibility for the child; and
(d) Any other order as the Court deems fit.
54. The hearing and the reading of a Court order concerning
adoption of children under this Act shall be made incamera.
effeCT of aDoPTIon oRDeR
effect of adoption order
55. An adoption order made by the Court gives sole parental
care and responsibility for a child to the adopting parent
named in the order and the child becomes the child of the
56. For the purposes of this Act on adoption order being made:
(a) The adopted child has the same rights in relation to
the adopting parent, as a child born to the adopting
(b) The adopting parent has the same parental care and
responsibility as the parent of a child born to the
(c) The adopted child ceases to be the child of the
biological parent and the biological parents cease to
be the parent of the adopted child;
(d) The existing parental care and responsibility or
guardianship for the adopted child ceases to have
effect, and any previous adoption of the child shall
also cease to have effect; and
(e) The other children of the adopting parent become
the siblings of the adopted child.
effects of adoption order as regards property
57. In the case of domestic adoption, section 53(b) does not
have effect so as to deprive an adopted child of any vested
or contingent property right acquired by the child before
the making of the adoption order.
58. In case of inter country adoption, citizenship of the
country to which the child is adopted shall depend upon
the citizenship law of that country.
59. The adopted child shall have the right of inheritance of
property of the adopting parent in accordance with the
60. The adopted child shall have a right to visit and reside
in Bhutan or be granted citizenship in accordance with
the relevant laws in force if the child has to return to the
country of origin under unavoidable circumstances.
effects of adoption order as regard maintenance cost
61. The child shall cease to receive maintenance cost if the
adopted child happens to be from that family whose
marriage had been dissolved legally.
Receipt of payment
62. A person shall be guilty of the offence for receipt of
payment, if the person receives any payment, reward,
favour or consideration in relation to adoption or
proposed adoption of a child. The offence of receipt of
payment shall be an offence of bribery.
63. A person shall be guilty of the offence of unauthorized
advertising, if the person publishes any prohibited
adoption advertisement or any photograph of a child.
The offence of unauthorized advertising shall be a
64. A person shall be guilty of false statement, if the person
whether orally or in writing gives a false statement
knowingly for the purposes of, or in connection with a
proposed adoption or any other matter under this Act.
The offence of false statement shall be a misdemeanour.
65. A person shall be guilty of impersonation, if the person
impersonates another during adoption process. The
offence of impersonation shall be a misdemeanour.
66. A person shall be guilty of presenting forged consent
or other document, if a person presents, or causes to be
presented, to the Court in connection with an application
for an order for the adoption, or recognition of the
adoption, of a child under this Act a document:
(a) Purporting to be an adoption document that the
persons knows is forged; or
(b) That bears any signature or certification that was
obtained by fraud, duress, through inducement of
monetary compensation or favours.
The offence of presenting forged consent or other
document shall be a felony of fourth degree.
67. A person shall be guilty of undue influence, if the person
uses or threatens to use any force or restraint to inflict
any injury, causes or threatens to cause detriment of any
kind to, or exert any other undue influence on, a parent
of, or person who has parental care and responsibility for,
a child with a view:
(a) To induce that parent or person who has parental
care and responsibility to offer or refrain from
offering the child for adoption under this Act, or
(b) To influence the parent or person who has parental
care and responsibility in the expression of any
wishes contained in an instrument of consent for
the adoption of a child, or
(c) To induce to revoke a consent to the adoption of a
child given by the parent or person having parental
care and responsibility.
The offence of undue influence shall be a misdemeanour.
Improper witnessing of consent
68. A person shall be guilty of improper witnessing of
consent, if the person subscribes one’s name as witness
to the signature of a person to an instrument of consent to
the adoption of a child without:
(a) Being satisfied that the person signing the
instrument is a parent of, or person who has
parental care and responsibility for the child, and
(b) Being satisfied that the person signing the
instrument is doing so free from any threat,
inducement or influence of any kind; or
(c) Being satisfied that the instrument bears the date
on which it is signed by the person giving the
The offence of improper witnessing of consent shall be a
69. Any other offence not specified under this Act shall be
construed under the Penal Code of Bhutan.
70. The amendment of this Act by way of addition, variation
or repeal shall be effected by a simple majority of the
respective Houses or vote of no less than two-thirds of
the total members of Parliament present and voting on a
motion submitted by one-third of the members of either
71. The dzongkha text shall be the authoritative text, if there
exists any difference in meaning between the dzongkha
and the English text.
Power to make rules and regulations
72. The Competent Authority and implementing agencies
may frame rules and regulations for the purpose of
effective implementation of this Act.
(a) “accredited adoption service provider” means
an organization for the time being accredited by the
National Commission for Women and Children.
(b) “accreditation notice” means notice given under
(c) “adopted person’ means a person for whose
adoption an order was made under this Act by the
(d) “adoption order” means an order for adoption of
a child made or recognized under this Act.
(e) “adoption service” means arrangements,
negotiation, arranging, assisting towards or with a
view to the adoption of a child.
(f) “adopting parent” means a person who becomes
the parent of an adopted person by adoption.
(g) “applicant” means a person who applies for
adoption of a child.
(h) “Domestic adoption” means where a child of
Bhutanese is adopted by another Bhutanese.
(i) “Inter country adoption” means the adoption
of a child between a Bhutanese national and a
national of a foreign country.
(j) “Parental care and responsibility” means all
the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority
which, by law, parents have in relation to children.
(k) “Principal Officer’ means any person specified
as the principal officer of the accredited service