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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/adoption/working-with-expectant-parents/making-a-birth-familywhanau-history/
Printed: 19/05/2024
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Last updated: 11/09/2020

Making a birth whānau or family history

When expectant parents decide to place their tamaiti for adoption, we should help them and their whānau or family prepare a birth whānau or family history.

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 approach

Why make a whānau or family history

A birth whānau or family history assists:

  • te tamaiti – to know important information about their birth family, whānau, hapū and iwi and whakapapa for tamariki Māori
  • adoptive applicants – to make an informed decision about a specific adoption proposal
  • adoptive parents – to understand more about their adopted tamaiti; to encourage contact and support the kinship network with the birth whānau or family; to have a genetic, health and developmental history of the birth family/whanau. 

Expectant parents may be there to tell their part of the adoption story as te tamaiti grows, but if they aren't, the whānau or family history will be available on the adoption file.

Gathering information for a whānau or family history

Help expectant parents to gather information about themselves by encouraging them to:

  • write their own story, recognising that not everyone feels comfortable writing and talking about themselves – if they need help, try to sensitively draw out information and remind them of their strengths and abilities
  • include their whānau or family in the process – their parents will know about the expectant parents' own early development and family health history. Ensure where possible 3 generations of maternal and paternal family names are identified and recorded.
  • provide photos of themselves and whānau or family – both current and from childhood if possible
  • explore and record with whānau the significant people, places and cultural values that strengthen the connection of tamariki to their whakapapa – including marae, hapū and iwi information. Where appropriate, consult with a kairaranga ā-whānau or similar specialist Māori role to support engagement with whānau and verification of whakapapa genealogy
  • where the expected tamaiti will have other cultural heritage, consider how other cultural consultation could enhance the gathering of culturally-specific information 
  • be truthful and positive about their own lives.

Draw up a draft of their whānau or family history and develop it through further discussion. Creating a genogram as a supporting document/information to go with the whānau or family history is a good idea. Social workers should confirm and record the whakapapa genealogy of up to 3 generations of the birth maternal and paternal family/whanau.

Practice for working effectively with Māori

Family history from parents who are planning to place a child for adoption (DOCX 35 KB)

Complying with the Privacy Act

When gathering information, we must comply with obligations under the Privacy Act, explaining why the information is needed and what it will be used for.

Collect personal information directly from the person concerned. If the father isn't available and the expectant mother knows some genetic and health information about the father, she may provide this – note in the document that she has provided the information. Expectant parents may sign the document, but it's not required.

When an adoption plan does not proceed, ensure that birth whānau or family information is returned and that the confidentiality of the information is maintained.

It is vital that we explore and record how parties involved agree to be located and approached in the future should Oranga Tamariki receive such a request from either party. This can be recorded on the family history document.

Privacy Act 2020

Family history from parents who are planning to place a child for adoption (DOCX 35 KB)