Adoptive Couples Questions

Adoptive Couples Questions

Do you have questions about adoption? Some popular questions are answered below

We have heard adoption requires legal papers to be drawn up. What will it cost us?

There are legal papers that have to be prepared. They are not particularly complicated and your own lawyer should be able to do them, although a lawyer who has done an adoption before may be preferable.The adoptive parents pay the legal fees and also pay the legal fees of the birth parent/s. These will be somewhere in the range of $500 to $3,000.

Who handles the adoption process in New Zealand?

Oranga Tamariki–Ministry for Children deal with the adoption process. Adoptive parents attend educational courses run by Oranga Tamariki. They are assessed and then, if approved, create a profile book which has lots of photos and give details of their lives. The profile tells the birth parents about the adoptive family. An Oranga Tamariki social worker will talk to the birth parents about what they consider to be important and then select profiles that match those requirements. There is no set rule on when birth parents look at profiles, but it is better to wait until the last month of pregnancy as their ideas about their baby and what kind of family will be “right” will change as the pregnancy progresses.

We hear you have to go through training to adopt. What does it involve and how long does it take?

There is usually an initial information evening. Following this there will probably be two training days. In addition to be approved by Child Youth and Family (CYF) you will have to pass a medical, have a police check, be interviewed and have had your nominated referees interviewed by a CYF social worker. All this will probably take about a year. If you want more information click here.

We’ve heard there is a really long waiting list to adopt. How long is it?

There is no waiting list at all. Birth mum’s pick the people to adopt their baby. Therefore you can be on the list of approved couples for a few hours or be on it forever and never get picked.

What are profiles and what should we include in ours?

Profiles are a type of book about you. These are created by would be adoptive couples to describe their lives and show what they have to offer a child. You can include anything you want in them. Obvious things include information about you, your upbringing, your values and your interests. Photos are good and sometimes a quote from someone who knows you well can be useful. CYF may have a sample profile book for you to look at to give you some ideas as to what to include in your profile.

We know a girl who wants us to adopt her baby – can she pick us?

Yes, she can, but before her child can legally be adopted by you, you would have to be assessed and approved by a CYF social worker.

What happens if a mother changes her mind about choosing adoption and we have already been told we have been chosen?

She keeps her baby. It’s that simple. There is absolutely no legal obligation for her to go ahead with adoption until the consent papers have been signed.

What is ‘Open Adoption’?

An Open Adoption is one that has identifying information shared. This can be at the time the adoption takes place and/or while the child grows up. It can be vary from minimal information like a photo and letter being exchanged at the time of birth, to regular contact between birthparents and adoptive parents and child.

What does ‘Open Adoption’ mean in practice? Can the birth familes pop round whenever they want?

How Open Adoption works in practice varies hugely from family to family. In some cases it will be an occasional exchange of letters or even less. In other cases it might include physical contact every week. The level of contact is usually agreed before the legal papers are signed, but in practice it tends to evolve with time. Once the legal papers are signed full rights and responsibilities are passed to the adoptive parents so technically they can, if they choose, stop all contact. However research suggests that contact is good for all involved in the triad (child, adoptive family and birth parents).

How old is the child likely to be if/when we adopt him/her?

In New Zealand adoptions can take place (a minimum) twelve days after the day of birth, after consent is signed. After this consent is signed baby is in your care. Most adoptions are of babies, although some older children are adopted. You can adopt children up to the age of eighteen.

I have a criminal conviction. Can I still adopt?

This depends on the nature of the criminal record and will need to be discussed with a CYF social worker.

Will the birth parents be able to take the baby back if they change their mind? 

Once the legal paperwork has been signed the baby is yours and is afforded the same legal rights as any other baby. The birth parents cannot get the baby back. Six months after the baby is in your care you go to Court with the baby and gain an Interim Order. A minimum three (usually six) months later you gain the Final Order. It is at this stage that a new birth certificate is issued with your names down as parent(s).

Who can adopt?

In New Zealand most couples who apply to adopt are approved. There will be cases where people convicted of crimes against children or who have certain health issues may not be approved. You can discuss your individual case with the social workers at Child Youth and Family. Family members can formally adopt a child without going through the pre-adoption training days. They will be required to make an application to Child, Youth and Family and the process is the same as any other person who wishes to adopt a child. That is they will have to have a police check, a medical check and supply references.

In New Zealand (as of May 2007) it is not possible for single people to adopt a child from overseas. This is because no country with which New Zealand has inter-country adoption agreements permits adoption to single people. For more information click here.

Is it only babies who are adopted in New Zealand?

The majority of non-family adoptions are babies. However, in recent times there has been a move to seek adoption placements for older children and often siblings who are permanently in CYF care. CYF will be able to tell you more about this development.

Could I adopt a baby born with a disability?

If your profile is picked and you are chosen to be the adoptive parent, you can decide whether you then want to adopt the baby. Many people have adopted babies born with disabilities. For example, see what Greer has to say about her experience of adopting children with Down Syndrome (below). You can also read more about Down Syndrome by clicking here.

Greer – adopted a Down Syndrome child

New Zealanders Greer and her husband Max have adopted a boy with Down Syndrome. Greer talks about how this has been a positive experience for them all. She also encourages pregnant women carrying Down Syndrome children to think about adoption if they are unable to parent their child themselves.