Post-natal contact with birthparents and registering the birth of the child
Updated: 01 July 2013
What's Important To Us
Parents considering placing a child for adoption during the pregnancy need to be enabled to review their decision after the birth. Emotional response to the birth may result in a change of mind about adoption and as much time as is reasonably needed has to be given to this consideration - it is important that parents are not influenced into making a hasty decision.
Section 7(7) of the Adoption Act 1955 provides that the birthmother’s consent to an adoption is not admissible, “unless the child is at least 10 days old at the date of the execution of the document”. The courts have interpreted this to mean that the child will effectively be 12 days old before the birthmother’s consent can be valid. The birthmother does not necessarily have to sign consent on the 12th day; this is the minimum time that should elapse before the consent can be valid.
Section 6 of the Adoption Act 1955 places restrictions on placing or keeping a child ‘in a home’ for the purpose of adoption. The decision on approval for placement is for the social worker to make. In order that birthparents may have the space and the time to go through the process of decision-making at their own pace, you need to be alert to any breach of this provision.
By law, both parents of a child born in New Zealand must jointly notify Births, Deaths and Marriages as soon as is reasonably practicable after the birth. When adoption is proposed, this should be attended to at the earliest opportunity as consent to adoption is usually signed in the presence of the birth certificate, which can only be issued after the birth is registered.
Post-natal contact with birthparents
If the birthmother is unsupported by family or friends and wishes to see her social worker soon after the birth, it is appropriate to visit in a supportive role. It is also important to respect her wish to spend time on her own. Arrange with the birthmother how she can contact you if or when she wants to see you.
There are important functions to fulfil without hastening the process of adoption. When adoption is being planned for a child, people surrounding the mother may feel that it is hurtful to remind her of the birth and to admire the baby when she does not plan to keep it. Just the opposite is true. This mother, like any other, needs acknowledgement of having accomplished a successful birth, and to receive affirmation. Talking about the birth to an interested listener can help to anchor the birth in her memory and make it a positive experience, later feelings of loss and grief notwithstanding.
In some cases it may be necessary to help a birthparent arrange for specialised counselling. As Oranga Tamariki does not fund counselling for this circumstance, do not make referrals to outside counsellors yourself, but assist clients to make a self-referral. Consider local resources for counselling, including hospital social workers, which may not incur costs.
There may be situations where the birthmother would like to stay temporarily in a residential facility with her child. Support her with practical arrangements, if they are available.
Registering the baby's birth
This task is the responsibility of the birthparents but as it can be difficult to achieve in the time and the circumstances, social workers can assist by liaising with the Central Registry office as follows.
Both parents must register the birth
It is important that both birth parents recognise their responsibilities in respect of the birth registration. Since 25 January 2009, an amendment to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act 1995 requires that if the father is known, then his details must be included on the Registration form and his signature provided. The only situation where a father’s details are not required is if he is:
- unknown; or
- the child was conceived through Human Assisted Reproduction Technology (HART).
Please note that if the father is known to the mother his details must be recorded on the registration form. However a Registrar may accept a form signed by only one parent if satisfied that the father is:
- of unsound mind
- unable to act by virtue of a medical condition, or
- requiring (him) to sign the form would cause unwarranted distress to either parent.
If the father is named but unable or unwilling to sign, evidence is required to satisfy the Registrar-General that he is the father. Failing court orders or DNA results, which are unlikely in this circumstance, statutory declarations are required from the mother, the father’s family and someone who knows both parents stating that they believe him to be the father and how they have come to form that belief. More information can also be found about births, deaths and marriages on the Department of Internal Affairs website.
Registering the birth when adoption is intended
After her child is born, the hospital or midwife will give the birthmother a form called ‘Notification of Birth for Registration’ (BDM 27). The pre-paid envelope with this form is addressed to:
Births, Deaths and Marriages
PO Box 31203
Do not use this address when a birth certificate is required in time for an adoption consent. The form BDM 27, when completed by the birth parents, should be marked at the top of the front page Urgent - for Adoption and sent directly to:
Births, Deaths & Marriages
PO Box 10-526
Attn. Team Leader Registrations
Obtaining a birth certificate
BDM 27 includes a section to be completed to order a birth certificate. There is no charge to register a birth, but to order a birth certificate the fee is $26.50, which may be paid by money order or credit card (N.B. a cheque payable to Department of Internal Affairs takes 5 days to clear). BDM 27 may also be faxed to 04 382 3513. If this is done it is important that the hard copy is couriered immediately, stamped or otherwise noted FAXED in order that a second entry is not begun.
Before faxing a request for a birth certificate for adoption purposes, the social worker should telephone 0800 225 252 and ask to speak to the Team Leader Registrations who will advise the number to fax the ‘Notification of Birth for Registration’, marked as above, and the quickest way to proceed depending on the location.
The Central Registry Office undertakes to process a birth registration within four working days of the receipt of a correctly completed form, provided that they also have the notification of the birth from the person who delivered the child. This midwife or doctor has by law five working days from the date of the birth to have provided this information.
As soon as the birth has been registered on the central computer, the certificate can then be obtained by the birthparent over the counter at the Registry Office in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch. The attachment to RG27 should be used for this application.
People living outside these areas can order the certificate. Applications will not be accepted by e-mail, but they can be made by faxing through the correct form or ‘phoning the Births, Deaths and Marriages Contact Centre 0800 22 52 52, if paying by credit card.
A certificate requested by post will have to be accompanied by a General Identity Declaration form BDM 130 obtainable on the Department of Internal affairs website.