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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/adoption/direct-adoption-applications-to-the-family-court/intercountry-adoption-applications-to-the-family-court/
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Intercountry adoption applications to the Family Court
When adoptive applicants apply for intercountry adoption directly to the Family Court, we determine the best way to proceed depending on the countries of residence of all parties to the adoption application. We liaise with the Intercountry Adoption Team.
Upcoming changes for this guidance
This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this guidance. The following resources provide support: Practice for working effectively with Māori Our practice shift
When an intercountry adoption application is made directly to the New Zealand Family Court
Adoptive applicants, whether living in New Zealand or not, can apply directly to the New Zealand Family Court to adopt a tamaiti who may or may not be living in New Zealand. The parties to the adoption application usually have a link to New Zealand.
When the parties are divided between countries an adoption order may be the only way te tamaiti can live permanently in the same country as their proposed caregivers.
We often only learn about these direct intercountry adoption applications when the court registrar requests social worker’s reports from us according to section 10 of the Adoption Act 1955.
Gathering information for the social worker’s report
Liaising with the Intercountry Adoption Team
When we’re asked for a social worker’s report for a direct adoption application that involves a tamaiti from another country, we must consult the Intercountry Adoption Team early in the process to find out the best way to proceed. An Intercountry Adoption Team advisor can also follow up and confirm the citizenship and immigration status of the parties involved, with their consent.
If there are any challenges in the adoption proposal, we advise the court and, if appropriate, make recommendations or request direction from the court on how to proceed.
We should interview the adoptive applicants to find out all the circumstances of the intercountry adoption proposal.
If there are language difficulties, use an interpreter to explain the purpose and procedures of the assessment and report.
In the interview we should:
find out the circumstances of the adoption proposal, including the:
background of the adoption application
purpose of the adoption — why the applicants want an intercountry adoption and how the proposal came about
names, dates of birth, addresses, citizenship and New Zealand immigration status of all the parties
use cultural advisors to understand the cultural and social context of the adoption proposal
review all the information provided to the court by the applicants, including:
baptismal certificates (often used as legal identity documents from some countries)
consent documents from the birthparents
help the applicants to understand:
our role and responsibilities in the adoption process
the adoption assessment process and procedures — we help them complete the application for assessment and other forms
an adoption must always be in the best interest of te tamaiti
inform the applicants that Oranga Tamariki:
may get additional independent information from other government departments (for example, Immigration New Zealand, Department of Internal Affairs) with the applicants' consent
may request independent information from the country of residence of te tamaiti about the circumstances of te tamaiti, their birth whānau or family and why an intercountry adoption is required.
This may take a long time so discuss the impact of a long timeframe on te tamaiti. If te tamaiti:
is in their country of residence and needs immediate care and protection, advise the applicants to notify the appropriate authorities in the country
is in New Zealand on a temporary visa, the applicants should make sure this will stay current while the adoption process is underway
does not have a valid visa in New Zealand, contact the Intercountry Adoption Team for advice.
If te tamaiti is living in New Zealand, discuss their circumstances including access to education and health services for te tamaiti while in New Zealand. If there are issues with access to education or health services in New Zealand contact the Intercountry Adoption Team for advice.
When the adoptive applicants are living overseas, we need to get advice from the Intercountry Adoption Team about the process and steps to be taken in the particular adoption application, and then we should advise the court that:
Oranga Tamariki is unable to assess the adoptive applicants in the usual way when they are resident overseas, and
an extension of time may be required to have the applicants' assessment completed in their country of residence.
Our assessment of the adoptive applicants includes:
assessing information from the applicants' suitability checks — police, medical information, residential history and immigration status, references and CYRAS checks
making a request to a relevant assessment service provider in the applicants' country of residence to complete the applicants' assessment for our report to the New Zealand Family Court.
Adoptive applicants' assessment report from their country of residence
The intercountry adoptive applicants' assessment report helps to determine if applicants who live overseas are eligible and suitable to adopt a tamaiti.
In consultation with our supervisor, we complete a request to the applicants' country of residence to provide the adoptive applicants' assessment report and forward it to the Intercountry Adoption Team for review and consideration.
Our request for the adoptive applicants' assessment report should include:
an outline of the adoption proposal based on all information that has been provided to the court by the applicants
any potential issues that have come out of our assessment of information from the applicants' suitability checks and from the affidavits provided to the Family Court as a part of the adoption application
complete and provide care and protection history checks from the relevant child protection agency in the applicants' country (the equivalent of a CYRAS suitability check); consider and discuss any reports of concern or matters relating to either the applicant or the applicant’s whānau or family
explore with the applicants any potential issues related to the applicants’ suitability checks (police reports, medical reports and references)
evaluate the applicants’ home environment and support networks in the community
assess the applicants’ ability, skills, resources, financial means and resilience to meet any emotional, psychological, cultural or religious needs te tamaiti may have. (This includes the applicants’ understanding of the needs of the adopted tamaiti, their ability to deal with trauma and loss that te tamaiti may have experienced, and their heritage, cultural and religious needs)
comment on the applicants’ interactions with te tamaiti and the relationship between te tamaiti and the applicants — emphasise that assessing the attachment and bonding te tamaiti has with the applicants is critical to deciding whether an adoption order will promote the welfare of te tamaiti
comment on the applicants’ interactions and relationship with the biological parents and current caregivers of te tamaiti
comment on any relevant cultural customs, practices and traditions which may be drivers for the intercountry adoption.
Once the report request is finalised, the Intercountry Adoption Team send it to the relevant child welfare authority in the applicants' country of residence to complete the adoptive applicants' assessment report.
We advise the applicants that the adoptive applicants' assessment and report may take some time to complete in another country and they might have to pay a fee for the adoption assessment service. Costs associated with intercountry requests for adoptive applicants' assessments are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
If te tamaiti and/or the birth whānau or family are living overseas a Child Study report from their country may be required.
With the help of our supervisor and using information from the adoptive applicants’ interview, we put together the request for a Child Study report. The Intercountry Adoption Team add a covering letter and send the request to the relevant overseas authority to provide the report. If there is no statutory authority in that country, the Intercountry Adoption Team will explore other options available in the country, for example an approved and accredited non-government organisation. The International Social Service (ISS) may also be able to assist with providing Child Study reports in countries where there is no statutory authority or approved NGO.
If it is not possible to obtain a Child Study report from the country of origin of te tamaiti, other options may be considered on a case-by-case basis, such as Skype interviews with the overseas-based tamariki and their parents and caregivers, DNA testing to confirm a familial link to the adoptive applicants, or other possibilities to obtain information.
The social worker's report
Once we’ve gathered all the information about the adoption proposal, we write our report to the court.