Kenya is located in Eastern Africa and borders Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. This country occupies a total area of 580,367 square kilometers1 and has a population of 39,002,772.2 Children fourteen years of age or younger account for 42.3% of the population,3 and 50% of the population is below the poverty line.4 People living with HIV/AIDS number 1.2 million; the rate of prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adults is 6.7 %.5 The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has declined since reaching a high of 10% in the 1990s,6 but the disease continues to have a devastating impact on the children of Kenya.
Approximately 15% of Kenya’s children are one-parent orphans, and 2.5% are double orphans.7 According to a 2007 report, Kenya had 2,430,000 orphans: 1,282,000 maternal orphans, 1,591,000 paternal orphans, and 443,000 double orphans.8 AIDS-related deaths accounted for 1,149,000 orphans: 692,000 maternal orphans, 750,000 paternal orphans, and 349,000 double orphans.9 Estimates indicate that between 200,000 and 300,000 children live on the streets.10
One of the ways Kenya has responded to the orphan crisis is by seeking to provide support for family members to be able to better care for the children.11 This support includes cash subsidies to households caring for the orphans.12 Additionally, the government has sought to promote domestic adoption, guardianship, and foster care.13 The government of Kenya “recommends that children should only be placed in institutional care as a last resort.”14
Intercountry adoptions account for about 10% of all adoptions in Kenya.15 A study of 23 receiving states revealed that between the years 2003 and 2009, approximately 310 Kenyan children were adopted by citizens of other countries.16
1 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2010). Kenya. In The world factbook. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ke.html.
2 CIA, 2010. July 2010 estimate.
3 CIA, 2010. 2010 estimate.
4 CIA, 2010. 2000 estimate. Poverty tends to be worse in rural areas than in urban areas. (Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, Department of Children Services. (2008). National plan of action for orphans and vulnerable children: Kenya 2007-2010 (Revised Edition). Retrieved from http://www.ovcsupport.net/libsys/Admin/d/DocumentHandler.ashx?id=942. p. 8.)
5 CIA, 2010. 2003 estimates.
6 Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, 2008, p. 9.
7 Joint Council on International Children’s Services. (2009). Summary report: Child welfare in Kenya. Retrieved from http://www.jointcouncil.org/old-files/Summary%20Report%20-%20Kenya.pdf, p. 1.
8 National AIDS Control Council, Office of the President, Kenya. (2008). UNGASS 2008 Country Report for Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: NACC. Retrieved from http://data.unaids.org/pub/Report/2008/kenya_2008_country_progress_report_en.pdf. p. 15.
9 National AIDS Control Council, 2008, p. 15.
10 Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, 2008, p. 10.
11 Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, 2008, p. 15.
12 Biemba, G., Njoka, J., Simon, J., Costello, J., Beard, J., & Brooks, B. (2009, August). Kenya research situation analysis on orphans and other vulnerable children: Country brief. Retrieved from http://www.ovcsupport.net/libsys/Admin/d/DocumentHandler.ashx?id=1053. p. 3.
13 Joint Council on International Children’s Services. 2009, p. 1.
14 Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, 2008, p. 15.
15 Joint Council on International Children’s Services, 2009, p. 2.
16 Selman, P. (2010, December). African states of origin, 2003-2009: Number of children sent to 23 receiving states. Paper prepared for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Washington, DC. p. 2. The government of Kenya adopted a new constitution in late 2010, creating the need for hundreds of pieces of new legislation to implement the constitution and slowing the work done to pass legislation that would bring Kenya into full compliance with the Hague Convention. In the meantime, Kenya's Department of Children Services is able to process intercounty adoptions that comply with the Hague Convention, but, as the U.S. State Department warns, "until Kenya's international adoption laws are finalized, serious delays, expense, uncertainty, and difficulties could still arise with the Hague adoption process. The Department of State therefore advises American citizens to proceed with caution when deciding whether or not to adopt from Kenya." U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs (2011, March 2). Alert: Expect adoption delays. Intercountry Adoptions: Kenya. Retrieved June 15, 2011 from http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=kenya_1.