Preparing for the birthWe help expectant parents considering adoption to understand and prepare for what happens after te tamaiti is born.
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
Contributing to the birth plan
Ensure that expectant parents have informed their lead maternity carer (LMC) of their adoption plan. Where appropriate, encourage joint discussion between the expectant parents, LMC and the social worker regarding the key components of the adoption plan – so that there is a shared expectation about the care arrangements for te tamaiti on discharge from maternity care and the involvement of the adoptive applicants.
Te tamaiti may only be discharged in the care of their birthmother/guardian – or under any temporary care provisions under section 139 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 that have been agreed.
What we tell expectant parents before te tamaiti is born
We need to advise expectant parents that once te tamaiti is born:
- they remain the guardians of their tamaiti until a consent is signed – ensure the birthmother understands that as the guardian of her tamaiti she is responsible for all decision-making to do with te tamaiti
- they can contact their social worker when they’re ready to discuss their adoption plan.
We should encourage expectant parents to:
- see and hold te tamaiti – this helps the emotional wellbeing of both te tamaiti and the expectant parents. By acknowledging te tamaiti and the birth, the decision to place te tamaiti for adoption is tested
- consider arrangements that could make breastfeeding possible
- take some time to review their decision to adopt
- consider looking after te tamaiti when they leave hospital.
Caring for the newborn te tamaiti before adoption is finalised
If expectant parents ask about adoptive applicants being present at the birth, we should make sure that expectant parents understand why we do not support or facilitate this approach. We should ensure they understand the risks:
- Any adoption proposal at this stage is provisional – and no decisions have been made.
- Expectant parents need to be in a position to exercise free and informed decision-making without feeling pressured – real or perceived.
- Applicants are in an uncertain and emotionally vulnerable position – it is not the expectant parents’ responsibility to be responding to the needs of applicants.
- If the adoption proposal doesn't proceed, the applicants will experience additional grief having shared the emotional process of the birth.
- Expectant parents may feel guilty if they change their mind or they feel they can't stop the adoption process because the applicants were present at the birth.
Reviewing the decision to place te tamaiti for adoption
We encourage expectant parents who considered placing their tamaiti for adoption when pregnant to take time to re-evaluate their plan once their tamaiti is born. We must give expectant parents as much time and space as they need to re-evaluate their decision.
By law, te tamaiti must be at least 12 days old before the expectant parents' consent to an adoption is valid. So this is the minimum time the expectant parents have to review their decision about adoption.
It's important the expectant parents understand the restrictions under section 6 of the Adoption Act 1955 on placing or keeping te tamaiti in the adoptive applicants’ care. Discuss any specific questions about the interpretation of this restriction with your supervisor.
When an expectant parent decides to parent their tamaiti, consider what services or supports they could benefit from.
Parenting te tamaiti themselves – Other options for expectant parents considering adoption
Social worker approval for placement of te tamaiti
When te tamaiti is born
When the expectant mother wants to see us after the birth, we can provide support by:
- acknowledging that the birth of te tamaiti is a significant achievement in the expectant parents' lives
- encouraging the expectant mother to talk about the birth and affirm this experience
- explore the usefulness of ongoing counselling support. While Oranga Tamariki doesn’t fund ongoing counselling, we should explore whether expectant parents want further counselling support around the emotional adjustment they face. (Consider local counselling resources such as hospital social workers, which may be free.)
Registering te tamaiti
We advise expectant parents that:
- the LMC (usually the midwife) makes sure that te tamaiti is added to the New Zealand Health Index (NHI) database and assigned an NHI number.
- both expectant parents must register the birth of te tamaiti within 2 months of being born.
Registering the birth of te tamaiti