Can an individual or an institution after having legally adopted a child, ask for cancellation of the adoption agreement by showing the challenging health condition of the child?

Regarding this issue, the cassation bench has rendered a decision on April 22, 2002 E.C.

The applicants, in their claim stated that after the adoption had been finalized they found out that the child had mental illness and is in need of constant treatment. Further they stated they don’t have enough finances to get treatment for the child and hence are asking for cancellation of the adoption.

The Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court and the High Court both dismissed the claim on the ground that it is not sufficient to cancel an adoption. However the cassation bench decided to entertain the case in light of Article 36(1) of the constitution which is The Best Interest of the Child.

As a principle it is stated under Article 195(1) of the Revised Family Code Ethiopia that an adoption agreement cannot be terminated. But under sub article two of the same exceptions to this rule are also specified.

The specific statement that may be considered relevant in this case is Where the adopter, instead of looking after the adopted child as his own child …handles him in any other manner that is detrimental to his future, the court may revoke the adoption

Concerning this the constitution and other international instruments that Ethiopia is currently a part of specifically gives priority to The Best Interest of the Child. So, what this should be construed to mean is that courts before rejecting a claim for cancellation of adoption not only have to ensure that current situation of the child but also the future consequences that may arise due to the adoption.

Hence, coming to the current case at hand, since the applicant has stated that they won’t be able to take care of the child due to their lack of finances, allowing the adoption to continue would be against The Best Interest of the Child.

Having said this, the court dismissed the decisions of lower courts and ordered for the cancellation of the adoption agreement.   

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