Every family has a few skeletons in a closet and adoption has long been a history of silence for many women and families in New Zealand affected by the adoption of a child.

After the Australian Adoption Apology and movies such as JUNO, the media has helped in demystifying the taboo shadowing adoption, and more importantly is helping to shine light back on adoption as an important option to both young mothers and families looking to adopt out or be an adoptee.

If you are faced with an unexpected pregnancy, adoption is an important option to consider so that you are able to make the best decision for both yourself and your baby, as well as those families looking at adopting into their family. This article particularly deals with adoption in New Zealand.

Why would I put my child up for adoption?

Sometimes it is timing, finances or just the best decision for the future of the baby.  Deciding to put a child up for adoption is a decision affected by all sorts of factors but ultimately is about the best life that can be offered to the child, wither it is with you or an adoptive family.

Why would I want to adopt a child?

Sometimes people experience fertility set backs; other people just want to add to their family and feel that offering a loving home to a child who needs it is the perfect solution for people seeking another member of the family and for children looking for one.

Does closed adoption still happen in New Zealand?

In the past, most adoptions were ‘closed’. A closed adoption is an adoption that has no identifying information shared.  When the adopted child turns 18 they may request from Ministry for Vulnerable Children information about their adoption.  Most adoptions in New Zealand are now ‘open’ to some degree.

The birth parent/s and the adoptive parents discuss the level of openness, however, some parties may request a closed adoption.  If, after talking to a trained adoption social worker, the birth parents want a closed adoption they will be shown profiles of couples in the adoption pool who have stated that they are comfortable with a closed adoption.

Health issues may crop up for the adopted child, and it may make treatment difficult if there has been no disclosure of family medical conditions and the adoption is closed.

How old are most children when they are placed for adoption?

In New Zealand adoptions can take place from twelve days after the child’s birth. Consent forms cannot be signed before this time. The adoptive parents can then take the baby home once the papers have been signed.

Most adoptions involve babies, although some older children, up to the age of eighteen, are adopted. On the application form to adopt, prospective adoptive parents can say if they would prefer to adopt an infant.

How much does it cost to adopt a child?

When you adopt a child, legal papers must be prepared. These are not complicated and your own lawyer should be able to prepare them, however a lawyer who has worked on an adoption case before may be advisable.

Lawyers fees vary and will be somewhere in the range of $500 to $3,000. It pays to ring around and get quotes as there can be a large variance in fees charged by lawyers for the same service.

How long will a couple have to wait before a baby comes up for adoption?

There is no waiting list at all. Birth parents 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 be chosen.

Does the biological father have a say in an adoption?

In most cases the judge presiding over the adoption will want the birth father to be involved in the decision. Occasionally this may either be inappropriate or un desirable. The birth father’s rights are however subject to legal definition. They have recently been strengthened by the Care of Children Act 2004.

If a biological father has been living with the child’s mother in a similar situation to a marriage arrangement during the pregnancy or at the time of the birth he and the birth mother are required to sign the consent forms before an adoption can proceed.

If he is not in agreement about the decision to place the child for adoption he may choose to consult a lawyer and contest guardianship of the child. Social workers would not proceed with an adoption if such legal action was pending.

Do people adopt Down syndrome babies?

There are many families happy to adopt a baby with Down syndrome. Here, Greer talks about her experience of adopting children with Down syndrome.

If you are considering adoption because you have had an amniocentesis test confirm your baby has Down syndrome or your baby has been born with Down syndrome you may want to view the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association website has comprehensive information for people who have a Down syndrome baby.

Can my boyfriend legally adopt my children?

Step parents can formally adopt a child without going through the pre-adoption training  days. They will be required to make an application to the Ministry for Vulnerable Children 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. The child’s biological father may have to be consulted if a new partner is wishing to adopt. It is best to seek legal advice on this matter.

Adoption is an option that offers a solution for both birth parents and couples looking to grow their family. With child poverty a growing problem in New Zealand, the more doors that are open to adoption, the better.  Speaking as someone who was lucky enough to be adopted into a loving Kiwi family, adoption is something that really does change lives.

In New Zealand there are a few communities that support people affected by adoption. Try out the following:

For more expert advice on blended families check out Making a family.

Emma Mildon

Emma Mildon is an author and columnist who specialises in adoption, foster, orphans and inspiration. Yes…they are all linked and Emma writes about them all on her website -

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