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3. Adopting a Child

“My husband and I wish to adopt a child. What must we do to find a child to adopt? What are all the steps to follow before we can bring a baby home?”

What Does the Law Say?

(See: Adoption of Children, which briefly sets out the law about adoption)

What Can You Do?

There are many different places you can approach in order to adopt a child, for example, the Child Welfare Society in your area or voluntary or charitable adoption agencies.

Steps in an Adoption
  • Make an application for adoption at one or more adoption agencies.
  • Social workers from the agency check that you are suitable people to be adoptive parents.
  • If the agency finds a child, you must apply to the Children’s Court in the district in which the child lives.
  • The court holds a formal court hearing which is not open to the public.
  • The Commissioner of Child Welfare sits in the court. You must satisfy the Commissioner that you have a good reputation and are fit to have custody of the child. You must also show that you can support and educate the child.
  • The social workers from the agency also make a report to the Commissioner, saying if they think you are suitable parents. The Commissioner can consider the religion, culture and race of the child’s natural parents and its adoptive parents. BUT the Child Care Act does not say the Commissioner must match these matters. The welfare of the child is most important.
  • The Commissioner must see a consent form signed by the natural parents. Usually your names as the adoptive parents are filled in on the consent form. But you can have a ‘secret adoption’. This means the adoptive parents and the natural parents agree that the natural parents will not know the names of the adoptive parents.
  • If the Commissioner is satisfied with everything, he or she gives an order of adoption. This can happen months after you first apply to adopt a child.
Cancelling an Adoption

The natural parents, adoptive parents or the Minister responsible can apply to the Children’s Court for a Rescission (an order cancelling the adoption), within two years of the date of the adoption, if:

  • The adoption is not in the interests of the child
  • The child was mentally ill at the time of the adoption and the adoptive parents did not know this
  • There was some fraud or mistake that persuaded the adoptive parents to adopt the child
  • The natural parents did not give proper consent
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