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What is adoption?

Adoption is different to being looked after by a caregiver for a while or going into foster care.  Adoption is a legal process where the birth parents permanently transfer their legal rights and responsibilities towards a child to a new guardian or guardians.  The adopting parent or parents become the child’s permanent legal parents and guardians.

What is the legal process for placing my baby up for adoption?

Adopting out your baby is an important and often difficult decision. If you decide to adopt out your baby, you need to sign documents to show that you agree to the adoption.  You can only do this after you have been fully advised of the effect of adoption.  Also, you cannot agree to the adoption until your child is 10 days old. Paperwork will be paid for by the adoptive parents.

There is a lot of professional help available for you when you are making your decision. It is your decision whether you place your baby up for adoption or not.

Should I place my baby up for adoption?

If you’re having a baby, however young you are, no one can make you give your baby up for adoption. As well as keeping your baby, there are other options available to you such as fostering and guardianship.

If you have any problems or are in need of support or counselling, it is a good idea to get advice and support before making the decision:

Adoption Option:

Ministry for Children – Oranga Tamariki:

Who can be adopted?

A child can be adopted up until they turn 20 years old, although in most circumstances, children will be adopted a lot younger than 20 as guardianship generally ends at 18.

Can I be paid for adoption?

It is illegal for people to advertise that they wish to adopt a child/baby, or to offer money for the right to adopt a child.  The only thing adoptive parents may be allowed to pay is certain types of medical or hospital expenses for the birth mother and related legal costs.

How much does adoption cost?

If you’re adopting a child, you don’t have to pay for any Family Court filing fee, but if you hire a lawyer to help you, you will have to pay the lawyer’s fees. You may also have to pay the birth parents’ legal fees.

If you are adopting from overseas, there will be additional costs such as service costs for translation of documents or for a caregiver for the child while they are in their own country.

Can I adopt a child?

If you want to adopt a child, you can adopt a child within NZ, adopt a step or surrogate child, or adopt a child from overseas.

You can either adopt as an individual, as a married couple or as a couple in a stable heterosexual de facto relationship. Generally, you must be at least 25 years old and at least 20 years older than the child.

In New Zealand, if you wish to adopt a child you generally have to go through the Ministry of Children – Oranga Tamariki (MCOT), but a birth mother can make her own arrangements with people who she feels are suitable.  However, MCOT or a court appointed social worker must still interview and report on the adoptive parents.

Can I marry a relative after I’m adopted?

When you’re adopted, the law treats you as if your adoptive parents were your birth parents.  This means that you cannot marry your adoptive parents, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters, or other relatives.

Meanwhile, you also cannot marry your birth parents, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters, or other relatives.  Although the law treats you in almost every situation as the child of your adoptive parents, you are still treated as the child of your birth parents when it comes to marriage.

The law against ‘incest’ (having sex with a relative) applies to both your relatives by adoption and by birth.

Where can I get help with adoption matters?

You can seek help from the Ministry for Children – Oranga Tamariki (MCOT) by

  • Phoning 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459) and talking to an Adoption Social Worker

If you need help finding a family lawyer to aid you in the adoption process, you can visit the New Zealand Family Lawyer website or alternatively you can contact your local community law centre.

Support Groups are very useful and you can find your nearest one by contacting MCOT.

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