Involving fathers when considering adoptionTe tamaiti benefits from the involvement of their father and their whānau or family when exploring care options and any adoption plan.
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
Helping tamariki develop a sense of self and identity
To develop a sense of self and identity, all tamariki need to know about their birth whānau or family, their whakapapa and how they are connected – this includes their father and his whānau or family. We have a special responsibility to those children who have had these connections disrupted by adoption.
Involving the father – every tamaiti has 2 parents
Fathers should have the same opportunity as expectant mothers to consider care options and be involved in adoption planning.
Adopted tamariki will want to know that:
- both expectant parents were involved in the decision-making process
- fathers gave information about themselves – for the benefit of te tamaiti in the future
fathers were able to explore potential care options within their family/whanau as part of their decision-making process
When fathers are guardians and need to give consent
If fathers are legal guardians they must give consent to an adoption. Information about when the father is a guardian can be found on the Ministry of Justice website.
[LINK]Who a guardian can be – Ministry of Justice website
[LINK]Types of court orders
If the father isn't a legal guardian, their consent to adoption isn’t needed, but we should involve them in the decision-making and information-gathering process.
Fathers can apply to the Family Court to become a legal guardian if they want to oppose an adoption plan. No adoption plan should continue until the court has made a decision. Fathers should apply as soon as they can so te tamaiti isn’t left in an uncertain situation.
The Family Court may want consent from a father who is not a guardian if they decide it would be useful.
If the father isn't identified or the expectant mother won't give information about him, it's important to fully describe this in the Family Court report. The court will decide whether to follow up on the father's identity, awareness and involvement in the process.
When expectant parents are not agreeing on an adoption plan, it may need to go to the Family Court for a decision. For example, when an expectant mother wants to place te tamaiti for adoption with non-relatives and the father or his whānau or family want to care for te tamaiti.
Don't pursue an adoption plan until a decision has been made by the Family Court.
Supporting expectant mothers to involve fathers
We can support expectant mothers who may not want to involve the father. We can explore any barriers that are stopping her from getting him involved.
She may feel:
- ashamed or embarrassed about the pregnancy
- anxious that he’ll take control of the situation
- afraid of seeing him or giving him access to the child
- rejected by him not wanting to be involved in the past
- independent on her own and that she doesn't need to involve him
- worried about further contact with someone she considers has been abusive.
If necessary, we can explore how to involve fathers without expectant mothers having direct contact with them.
Where unresolved adult issues limit the willingness of expectant parents to jointly discuss the option of adoption, consider whether separately engaging with the expectant mother and father is possible.
How fathers can get involved
Fathers can be part of the adoption process by:
- considering whether they or someone from their whānau or family could provide permanent care for te tamaiti
- giving information about themselves and their whānau or family in the whānau or family history document
Information from the expectant mother and father describes the whakapapa and whanaungatanga of any child placed for adoption. Cultural information should be explored and recorded, in particular whānau or family history should include 3 generations of identified whānau names.
- thinking about the kind of whānau or family they would like te tamaiti to grow up in and helping to select profiles
- deciding what sort of relationship they would be available for
- meeting adoptive parents and negotiating a contact agreement.
The father's whānau or family may also want to be involved in the decision.
Involving whānau or family in the adoption decision
Making a birth whānau or family history
Family history from parents who are planning to place a child for adoption (DOCX 35 KB)