Adopting a baby
Who can do it
You can apply to adopt a baby in New Zealand as a couple or as an individual. The application process can take a year or more, and getting accepted doesn't necessarily mean you'll receive a baby.
At least one of the people applying must be:
- over 25, and at least 20 years older than the child, or
- over 20, and a relative of the child, or
- one of the child's parents.
If you have certain health conditions, or if you’ve been convicted of offences affecting the safety of a child, you may not be approved to adopt.
How to apply
The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, can tell you how NZ adoption works, and arrange for you to go to a group information meeting where you can find out more.
Freephone: 0508 326 459
You’ll need to fill in an adoption application form, and give:
- the names of two people who can provide references
- permission for your doctor to provide medical information, and
- permission for the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, to do a police check.
After you apply, you’ll need to go on an adoption education and preparation course.
A social worker will work with you throughout the process. You’ll have a number of interviews with social workers, which will help the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, ensure that you’re ready to raise a child.
It’s free to apply, but if you adopt a child you’ll need to pay for a lawyer. You’ll also need to pay for the birth parent’s legal costs.
The application process may take a year or more.
If you’re adopting a partner's child
You may be able to adopt your stepchild (or stepchildren). A family lawyer can help guide you through the process and explain any alternatives, eg a parenting order.
Stepparents don’t have to go on an education and preparation course, but a social worker will interview you and prepare a report for the Family Court. They’ll also check your stepchild understands the adoption process, and talk to them about their relationship with you.
If your child is born by surrogate
To become the legal parents of a child born to a surrogate mother you need to adopt the child.
The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, will check that you’re a suitable parent. You won’t have to go on an education and preparation course, but a social worker will interview you and prepare a report for the Family Court.
A family lawyer can help you with this process.
Adopting a child from overseas
Adopting a child from overseas is more complicated than adopting in New Zealand. You still need to apply to the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, but you also need to follow the process of the country your child is from.
International adoptions can take a long time and have extra costs. Your social worker can let you know what to expect.
What happens next
If your application to adopt is successful, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a baby.
You’ll be asked for a profile of your family, which birth parents will use to help them choose who will adopt their child.
Most birth parents want to meet the adoptive parents they’re considering for their child. This is a chance for you to get to know each other, and decide if you want to go ahead with the adoption. You can also talk about what sort of ongoing relationship you want to have with each other.
If you and the birth parent both decide to go ahead, you’ll need to complete some more forms, and go through a formal legal process. Your social worker and your lawyer will guide you through these steps.
Foster caregivers look after children in many ways, from short-term or emergency foster care, to long-term or permanent arrangements.
Whāngai is the Māori tradition of children being raised by someone other than their birth parents — usually a relative.