Adoptions within New Zealand

Adopting a child means having a relationship with them as if they were your birth child.  Once you have adopted a child, you will have all of the joys - and responsibilities - of being a parent.

The Adoption process

The most important thing about the adoption process is keeping what's best for children at the centre of any decision.  We focus on finding the right family for the child, and encourage ongoing connection with their birth family and their culture. 

While many caring couples and individuals wish to adopt, there is only a small number of children in New Zealand who are adopted every year.  Adoption isn't the only option for giving children a loving home. Child, Youth and Family also offers foster care and permanent placement opportunities.

Adoption services

If you're considering adoption and don't know where to start, your first port of call is our Adoption Services team at Child, Youth and Family.  We're here to help, so give us a call if you'd like to learn about adoption, or go to a group information meeting.  Group information meetings are great for an overview of the adoption process.  You'll also meet people who can answer your questions.  Application forms are available at the first meeting.

Applying to adopt a child

If you decide you'd like to adopt, you'll need to fill out an application form, giving basic information about yourself and:

  • provide the names of two people who know you well and who can provide references relevant to your application
  • give permission for your doctor to provide medical information
  • give permission for Child, Youth and Family to do a police check.
    It's important that you have no offences affecting the safety of a child.

If you'd like to ask about health issues or offences that may affect your application, you can talk to an adoption social worker about it.

Education and Preparation Programme

Once we've received your application, we will invite you to an adoption Education and Preparation Programme.

At the programme, you'll get more in-depth information about adoption, and what it means to you and your family.  This is a chance for you to ask as many questions as you want.  You'll likely be assigned an adoption social worker at this point, who will work with you throughout the process.

We'll also talk about general attitudes and beliefs about adoption, so that you're well prepared and confident to be a parent to an adopted child.

Learning more about you

During and after the programme, you'll have a number of interviews with social workers.  These will help:

  • us learn about you, including your current home-life and your background
  • you learn more about how adoption works. 

We want to make sure that you're ready to be an adoptive parent who can meet a child's lifetime needs.

Profiles for birth parents to review

After completing the assessment you'll submit a profile of your family for birth parents to consider.  Birth parents will use these profiles to make their decision about who they would like to adopt their child.

Most birthparents want to meet the adoptive parents they are considering for their child. This is a time to get to know each other, and decide if you both want to go ahead with the adoption.  You may also want to talk about the sort of ongoing relationship you'd like to have with each other.

Once parents reach this stage, there are consent forms and legal processes to go through.  It's a big decision that takes time.  Your social worker will be there to support you through this and keep you informed about what's happening.

Open adoptions

An open adoption means that birth parents and adoptive parents maintain an ongoing relationship.  In many cases birth parents continue to have a part in the child's life, if everyone agrees that's best.  As children get older they often have their own ideas about the sort of contact they want to have with their birth family.

Costs of adoption

When considering adoption, you should budget for the costs of your lawyer and the birth parent's lawyer.  Legal costs vary, and it's best to do a bit of research before deciding on a lawyer.  You may want to visit the New Zealand Family Lawyer website, or find a Citizen's Advice Bureau in your area.

Post-adoption support

Our staff at Adoption Services are here to help birthparents and adoptive parents who would like post-adoption support.  Contact us for help such as birth child visits and relationships between the two families.

The Open Adoption Network supports people in open adoptions, but they have information that can help all adoptive families.  They have a monthly coffee group in some centres if you're interested in meeting other adoptive families to talk about the challenges and joys of being an adoptive parent.

Visit the Open Adoption Network website for more information.