Facilitating an intercountry adoptive placement
Updated: 01 July 2016
What's Important To Us
Every child deserves a family. When a family is not available in his or her country of origin, we will enable the child placed trans-nationally in New Zealand to thrive and to achieve a sense of belonging. We can best do this by preparing adoptive applicants to be fully aware of their role in parenting a child, not only not born to them but also not of their country or culture.
Fact sheets about each of the countries with whom New Zealand has agreements for intercountry adoption are available to be picked up at the Information Session.
The Ways to Care preparation programme is directly relevant in the consideration of attachment and on the reality of the pre-adoptive environment – the birth family and the culture, even though they may not continue to be present for the child. Emphasise that all of the learning will be relevant and applicable. Where an open kinship network is not possible as for a child born in New Zealand, other means exist to address the child’s need for identity.
The Intercountry Adoption workshop enables applicants to consider in depth their ability to meet the child’s needs. As there may not be sufficient applicants to run a full workshop with frequency to meet the demand, supervisors may arrange for them to travel to other sites (at their own expense), which has the advantage that they can interact with others who have similar interests. If this is not an option, the programme may be delivered to the applicants themselves by a care/adoption social worker.
Couples or individuals considering adopting a child from another country have areas to explore in addition to parenting a child of their own culture who is not born to them. Discuss with the applicants in some depth what has motivated them to seek to parent a child from another country and what they bring to the task of meeting that child’s needs for lifelong identity and attachment. The choice of country should be primarily governed by their capacity to meet the need of the child and not that it is the country that will allow them to adopt.
Children whose countries of birth have not been able to find a family for them will need particularly strong parenting capacity, depth of understanding and perseverance. Analysis of intercountry adoption breakdown has revealed parents’ unrealistic expectations of the dislocated children’s needs and of their own skills and resilience to meet them. Optimism is not enough. Applicants need to be able to demonstrate that they understand the challenges and describe the coping mechanisms available to respond to them.
Each sending country has its own set of adoptive applicant criteria. Ensure that prior to completion of the assessment the adoptive applicants are well-informed about:
- country specific process
- likely costs for which they will be responsible
- implications of pursuing more than one application.
Refer to the Non-family/whānau carer assessment and approval policy for information on how to become a non-whanau caregiver for Oranga Tamariki.
Creating the overseas dossier
After the applicants have been assessed and approved, prepare a Home Study Report. When the supervisor has signed off the report, he or she will e-mail the report to the New Zealand Central Authority (NZCA) for any further comment. Once you have incorporated any feedback from the NZCA, assemble the documentation dossier as specified by the sending country and send the completed dossier to the NZCA who will need to be satisfied that the application meets the standard required.
Until the dossier has been formally endorsed by the NZCA creating an Article 15 certificate, it is a draft document. It is only when the NZCA advises that the dossier is complete because it has been sent to an accredited body in New Zealand or it has been sent directly to the overseas country and its arrival has been confirmed that it is appropriate to inform the applicants of the completion of this stage in the process.
Receiving a proposal for placement
The competent authority overseas matches the child’s needs to the applicants’ attributes and capacity, having determined that all due requirements have been followed with respect to the child’s situation.
When they have selected the most suitable applicants available, the Central Authority of the sending country makes a proposal to the NZCA, which includes a child study detailing what is known about the child’s state of health and current social functioning.
Both the state of origin and New Zealand, the receiving state, have joint responsibility for ensuring that the adoption is in the best interests of the child. The proposal will only be presented to the applicants, therefore, if both Central Authorities are in support of the match. Where the NZCA has any concern about the information provided about the child they will try to obtain further information, a medical opinion on the circumstances as described from within the Ministry or, where necessary, from outside specialists.
It is very important that applicants have the opportunity to explore the potential of the proposal, and are assisted to obtain more information where possible. Where this is your task, and not done by the accredited body, confirm that the applicants have reviewed the child study using the Child Study Review tool from the intercountry adoption module (or a comparable method), both as individuals and as a couple, to focus their decision making.
Remember to place any/all other applications on hold during the period the proposal is being discussed.
Having established that the applicants are in a position to go ahead with the proposal (or that they wish to decline it), advise the applicants to confirm their decision in a letter to the NZCA.
Facilitating the proceedings
In cases where the accredited body does not fulfil this function, liaise with the NZCA to assist the applicants to begin the process of attachment to the child, to correspond with the overseas country, plan their meeting with the child, their activities while in the child’s country of origin and their return to New Zealand.
Each country varies in what formal procedures are undertaken as part of the transfer of the child’s care into the care of the applicants and you need to be familiar with the country requirements. The division of tasks between you as social worker and the NZCA will vary according to:
- the programme of the particular country
- whether the finalisation of the adoption is an administrative or a court process
- the court in which the order is made
- the degree of involvement of an accredited body.
If the adoption is to occur in the New Zealand Family Court, refer to Key information: Report to Court for an adoption order.
In addition, include information pertaining to the Hague status of the child’s country of origin, compatibility of legislation with that of New Zealand and the residency/citizenship status of the applicants.
New Zealand citizenship for the child
Intercountry adoptions involving those countries with which New Zealand has an intercountry adoption programme must be finalised only when the child has acquired New Zealand citizenship (via the Department of Internal Affairs) or Residency (via Immigration New Zealand) and the overseas authority has been advised of this. The point at which New Zealand citizenship or Residency is obtained varies depending on the country. Refer to the country manual concerned to ensure that this part of the process is completed.
Liaise with the NZCA, who will take appropriate measures to ensure any children adopted from another country have a formal record of their birth and adoptive identity and will assist to secure for these children New Zealand citizenship and therefore entitlement to services. Refer to Resource: Immigration and eligibility for services for more information.
Where an accredited body does not carry out this function, you will undertake accurate and timely post-placement reports as required by the child’s country of origin, and forward them to the NZCA for onward transmission to the sending country’s CA (Articles 20 &21). Sight the Adoption Order or adoption finalisation document and record its details to ensure the mandate to post placement report is established.
Check the manuals for an individual country’s own format for post-placement reporting. Keep your report succinct and focussed and avoid repetition under the various headings as you inform the overseas authority of the child’s settling and wellbeing once they have been adopted. Where sending countries require photographs of the child and their adoptive family to accompany the post placement report, give consideration to the purpose and cultural appropriateness of what is included in the report. If there is any possibility that a photo could be open to misinterpretation, for example featuring nudity or bathing, discuss this with the applicants and request alternatives.
Refer to the resources The New Zealand Hague Central Authority and Accredited Agencies and Intercountry adoption in New Zealand for more information.
Domestic placement and intercountry adoption
When applicants have been approved for both local placement (whether by adoption or as Permanent Caregivers), and intercountry adoption, they have a profile available to New Zealand birthparents and a home study lodged overseas at the same time. The following conditions apply:
- applications may not be made to more than one overseas country
- assessments and recommendations will be specific to the needs of the children
- the profile and the homestudy will each include the information that a placement is also being pursued from the other source
- as soon as there is a proposal to place a child from any source the other application on CYRAS should be put ‘on hold’ to indicate to other social workers that the applicants are unavailable
- if a child is placed from one source the other application will be discontinued
- dual applications are not available to clients of ICANZ who have applications in Thailand or Lithuania as their time frames may be quite short.
Liaison with the New Zealand Central Authority
Whenever a domestic adoptive placement or permanent placement is proposed for applicants who also have an application in an overseas country, remind the applicants that they may only pursue one option at a time. Seek their agreement to give priority to the proposal before them. Provide details to the NZCA at the time that the profile is chosen. Having regard to the time frame and any other relevant circumstances the NZCA will decide if/when the overseas authority should be informed.
It will be a rare occurrence that the offer of an overseas child arrives during the time that applicants are in the process of planning to accept a child born in New Zealand. In this event, the NZCA (acting under the authority of the Hague Convention) may hold the child study for a short period while it is determined 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 overseas child’s chances of being offered an alternative adoptive family. This situation will need to be handled with care, and ongoing consultation between the NZCA and the site social worker is essential.
Once the decision has been made about the New Zealand placement, the status of the intercountry proposal can be confirmed. If the local child is in the applicants’ home with clear plans for adoption or permanent placement, the NZCA will communicate with the overseas authority explaining that the Intercountry proposal must be declined.
If the local adoption or permanent placement cannot proceed for some reason, the intercountry proposal can be considered. The applicants need the opportunity for discussion of the changes and the emotional implications for them.