Facilitating the adoption of a tamaiti from overseasWe help adoptive applicants explore what’s involved in parenting a tamaiti from overseas. We provide information and can facilitate adoption of an unknown non-relative tamaiti from another country if NZ has an intercountry adoption programme with them.
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
Preparing adoptive applicants and facilitating an intercountry adoption
We help prepare adoptive applicants for an intercountry adoption. We provide information on a country’s adoption criteria and processes and can facilitate the adoption of a tamaiti from overseas if New Zealand has an intercountry adoption programme with this country.
1 Preparing adoptive applicants for an intercountry adoption
We discuss with adoptive applicants what it means to adopt a tamaiti from overseas. Explore with them:
- their reasons for wanting to parent a tamaiti from another country and how they will meet the lifelong identity and attachment needs of a tamaiti
- why they’ve chosen to adopt from a particular country – choice of country should be primarily governed by the capacity of the applicants to meet the cultural and identity needs of a tamaiti from that country, and not because it’s the country that will allow them to adopt
- whether they understand the challenges of adopting a tamaiti from overseas and how they will respond to those challenges and meet the needs of te tamaiti.
The Best Interests of the Child in Intercountry Adoption – UNICEF website
- we have adoption programmes with 7 countries and provide adoption factsheets on these countries
- to complete the adoption education and preparation programme – considers attachment, the birth family and culture. For an intercountry adoption where an open kinship network is not possible, other means to address the identity needs of te tamaiti are explored. Emphasise that all of the learning will be relevant and applicable.
- to attend the intercountry adoption training session – helps applicants to consider in depth their ability to meet the needs of te tamaiti adopted from a different country. Talk with a supervisor if there isn’t a workshop available in the area.
Each country has its own set of adoptive applicant criteria. Refer the adoptive applicants to the country factsheets for information about the:
- country-specific process and requirements
- likely costs for the applicants
- implications if they wish to apply for both domestic and intercountry adoption.
Preparing to be a caregiver or adoptive parent: Attending an information session
Policy: Adoption — Intercountry adoption: adopting a tamaiti from overseas
2 Assessing and approving adoptive applicants
We assess all adoptive applicants (domestic and intercountry, relative and non-relative) by following the caregiver and adoptive applicant assessment and approval policy and process.
Policy: Caregiver and adoptive applicant assessment and approval
Assessing and approving caregivers and adoptive parents
3 Creating the overseas dossier
After the applicants have been assessed and approved, we:
- prepare a Home Study assessment report — our supervisor reviews the report and emails it to the New Zealand Central Authority (NZCA) for review and approval. After the adoptive applicants are approved to proceed, the NZCA issue an Article 15 certificate of applicants' eligibility and suitability to adopt as required under the Hague Convention
- if the intercountry adoption application and placement is not facilitated by the accredited adoption agency, assemble the documentation dossier as specified in the country adoption process guidelines and forward the documents to the NZCA. The NZCA will need to check the documents and confirm that they meet the requirements of the country the applicants are applying to adopt from.
Staff resource: Country-specific process guidelines and manuals
Overseas dossier for intercountry adoptions
Intercountry adoption Home Study report
Intercountry adoption Home Study report template (DOCX 83 KB)
If the adoptive applicants use an accredited non-government adoption placement agency to progress their adoption application in the overseas country, the NZCA forwards the Home Study report and Article 15 Certificate of applicants' eligibility and suitability to adopt to the accredited agency.
The accredited agency assembles the dossier and facilitates all the following steps. The Oranga Tamariki Adoption Service is not involved in any further part of the process and we re-allocate the applicants' record in CYRAS to the NZCA intercountry adoption advisor.
The New Zealand Central Authority and accredited agencies under the Hague Convention
Inter-Country Adoption New Zealand (ICANZ)
4 Receiving a proposal for placement
When te tamaiti in another country is matched with the adoptive applicants, the central authority of this country sends a referral to the NZCA. The referral includes a child study report and medical information about te tamaiti.
We only present the proposal to the applicants when Oranga Tamariki is satisfied that the match is suitable, and it meets the assessment criteria of the adoptive applicants.
If the NZCA has any concerns they may request further information from the country of te tamaiti. Oranga Tamariki may advise the applicants to seek an opinion from independent specialists before the match is accepted and approved.
We help the applicants get more information from the country of te tamaiti, if needed. We confirm that the applicants have carefully and objectively reviewed the information about te tamaiti, both as individuals and as a couple.
If the applicants are also approved for domestic adoption and/or as short- or long-term caregivers for Oranga Tamariki, they shouldn't be considered for other types of placement while the intercountry adoption proposal is being discussed. We place a case note in CYRAS that the applicants are not available for the domestic caregiver or adoption pool while the intercountry adoption proposal is under consideration.
When the applicants want to go ahead with the proposal (or they want to decline it), advise them to email their decision to us and we will forward it to the NZCA.
5 Facilitating the proceedings
We liaise with the NZCA to help the applicants to:
- begin the process of attachment to te tamaiti
- correspond with the overseas country
- plan the meeting with te tamaiti in that country, take te tamaiti into their care in that country, and then organise their return to New Zealand with te tamaiti.
Each country has their own procedures for transferring the care of te tamaiti into the care of the applicants and we should be familiar with these. What we do and what the NZCA does in this process varies according to:
- the programme of the particular country
- whether finalising the adoption is an administrative or a court process
- whether the adoption is finalised in the country of origin of te tamaiti or in New Zealand.
6 New Zealand citizenship and services for te tamaiti
Intercountry adoptions are finalised when the adoption certificate under Article 23 of the Hague Convention is issued by the Central Authority of the country of origin of te tamaiti or by the NZCA.
Intercountry adoption under the Hague Convention entitles the adopted tamariki of New Zealand citizens by birth or grant, to New Zealand citizenship by descent on application to the Department of Internal Affairs.
For adopted tamariki of New Zealand citizens by descent and New Zealand permanent residents, an application for New Zealand citizenship by grant can be made to the Department of Internal Affairs.
Refer the adoptive parents to the Department of Internal Affairs guide Hague Convention adoptions: Post adoption guide for parents (PDF 1 MB). It will help adoptive parents navigate the tasks they need to complete with the Department of Internal Affairs after the adoption certificate under Article 23 of the Convention has been issued.
Adoption pre-citizenship visitor visa – NZ Immigration website
Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Citizenship Act 1977
Oranga Tamariki may need to provide letters of support for the adopted tamaiti to have full access to health and education services in New Zealand while their citizenship or permanent resident visa application is in process.
COVID-19 travel restrictions
As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, countries have implemented protective health measures including border controls and travel restrictions. This has had implications for international travel and prospective intercountry adoptive parents should check what arrangements are in place to enable movement between New Zealand and an overseas country before they make any travel arrangements.
Social workers should seek advice about specific overseas countries from the Intercountry Adoption Team by emailing NZCA_Adoptions@ot.govt.nz
For more information read about COVID-19: Border controls on the Ministry of Health website
7 Post-placement reporting
After te tamaiti arrives in New Zealand, we must write post-placement reports as required by the country of origin of te tamaiti. The NZCA sends the post-placement reports to the sending country’s central authority.
Format the post-placement reports as required by the country. Include in the report:
- full original name of te tamaiti and full name of te tamaiti after the adoption (if different), full names of adoptive parents, home address and contact phone number, and the date of arrival of te tamaiti in New Zealand
- details about the wellbeing of te tamaiti and how they are settling in
- appropriate photographs of te tamaiti and their adoptive whānau or family, if required by the country (if we consider a photograph is inappropriate, we should discuss this with the adoptive parents).
Policy: Adoption — Intercountry adoption: adopting a tamaiti from overseas
When adoptive applicants have been approved to adopt both from within New Zealand and overseas, they will have a profile available to New Zealand expectant parents and an intercountry adoption application lodged overseas at the same time. We should advise them that:
- they cannot apply to more than 1 overseas country
- our assessments and recommendations will be specific to the needs of te tamaiti
- we mention in both the profile and home study report that an adoption is also being pursued from the other source (i.e. domestic adoption as well as intercountry)
- as soon as there is a proposal to place a tamaiti from New Zealand or overseas, we put the other application on hold to indicate the applicants are unavailable
- if te tamaiti is approved to be placed the other application will be discontinued.
Note that the accredited non-government intercountry adoption agency Inter-Country Adoption New Zealand (ICANZ) doesn't accept intercountry adoptive applicants as their clients if they also have an active domestic adoption application with Oranga Tamariki. If the applicants are applying for intercountry adoption via ICANZ they cannot remain in the domestic adoption pool.
Making a birth whānau or family history
Selecting an adoptive whānau or family from profiles
Whenever a domestic placement is proposed to applicants who also have an application in an overseas country, we should remind them they may only pursue 1 option at a time and ask them to give priority to the proposal before them.
We provide details of the proposal to the NZCA when the profile is chosen, who in turn may inform the overseas authority when or if appropriate.
It would be rare for an overseas proposal to come through when the adoptive applicants are considering a proposal to care for a tamaiti born in New Zealand. If this happens, the NZCA (acting under the authority of the Hague Convention) may hold the child study for a short time while it determines whether the New Zealand proposal will proceed to placement.
The overseas child study cannot remain indefinitely without a decision as this will impact on the chances of te tamaiti being offered an alternative adoptive whānau or family. We need to have ongoing consultation with the NZCA in this situation.
If the New Zealand tamaiti is in the applicants’ home with clear plans for adoption or long-term placement, the NZCA advises the overseas authority that the intercountry proposal is declined.
If the domestic placement doesn’t proceed, the applicants may still be able to consider the intercountry proposal.