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Intercountry request for Child Study

Updated: 01 December 2018

This resource outlines the process and steps involved in undertaking a Child Study.

What is a Child Study?

A Child Study is a report provided by the child’s State of origin which includes information about the child’s identity, adoptability, background, family, social environment, the child’s wishes and options, and any special needs of the child.

The Child Study provides independent information about the birth family and/or child, including why the adoption proposal has been made. Independent information from the child’s State of origin is required to ensure the best interests of the child and determine the need for intercountry adoption. Dependant on the age of the child, the child’s views should be sought in the Child Study request.

When is a Child Study a requirement?

A Child Study report is a legal requirement when the child is from a country that has ratified the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. Exceptions to this requirement can be made when the child is already considered habitually resident in New Zealand or the “child” is aged 18 years or older.

Oranga Tamariki aim to maintain the standards of the Hague Convention for all intercountry adoptions. Therefore it is necessary to attempt to request a Child Study report for all adoption proposals when the child or the child’s birth family is living overseas.

The most common situation is where one or both applicants are immigrants who reside permanently in New Zealand and wish to bring a relative child from the home country to join their family.

Child Study request process

In an assessment interview with the applicants, social worker should establish the complete circumstances of the adoption proposal including names, contact details, country of residence and citizenship of all the parties, the background of the adoption proposal and the purpose of adoption. With this information, social worker should liaise with the International Casework Team at National Office to determine how to proceed in terms of seeking a Child Study Report, timeframes, and overseas country resources.

Social worker should inform the International Casework Team of your preliminary view of the applicants’ suitability to adopt and the child’s best interests in the proposed intercountry adoption. If the child is living in New Zealand, social worker should advise the International Casework Team of his or her immigration status, circumstances and attendance at school.

Social worker should ensure that applicants are aware of the potentially long time-frames for obtaining a Child Study and ask them to consider the impact of this on the child. If the child in his/her country is in immediate need of care and protection, they should notify the appropriate authorities in the child’s home country.

Prior to the Child Study request, social worker should complete an assessment of the applicants’ suitability to adopt, and put the assessment report in CYRAS as a casenote. 

Child Study request content

Keep the document succinct, and use plain English.

Introductory paragraph:

  • explain that this request for information has originated from an intercountry adoption application made by the applicants in New Zealand.

Details of all parties involved in the proposed intercountry adoption:

  • applicants’ names, address, ethnicity, occupation, citizenship, residential status in New Zealand
  • child’s name, date of birth, place of birth, citizenship, current place of residence
  • birthparents’ names, dates of birth, ethnicity, occupation, address and contact details, citizenship, country of habitual residence
  • if the child is not living with the parents, caregiver’s name, address, phone number, country of residence
  • other significant people in the child’s life who reside in the child’s country of origin (often the child has been cared for by interim caregivers)

Circumstances of proposed adoption and birth family:

  • applicants’ account of how the adoption proposal came about and the reasons for the proposed intercountry adoption
  • birth family composition and relationship to adoptive applicants; birth family backgrounds and current circumstances,
  • birth parents’ understanding of and an agreement to the proposed intercountry adoption;
  • child’s sibling details, dates of birth, place of residence,
  • other family members in the child’s country of origin

Background on the applicants:

  • confirm that they are assessed in principle as eligible and suited intercountry adoptive applicants
  • any relevant significant historical information
  • outline any particular points from documentary assessment if they need to be further clarified with the birth family overview of current circumstances, lifestyle, and relationship

Information about the child:

  • Information the applicants have provided on their relationship and attachment with the child the child:
  • the child’s relationship and attachment with birth parents and siblings; 
  • the child’s relationship and attachment with other family members in the child’s country of origin
  • the child’s need for an intercountry adoption
  • what the child knows of the proposal
  • life and circumstances – previous and current caregivers

Summary and comments on the proposed adoption:

  • a summary of the social worker’s concerns (if any) in relation to the proposed intercountry adoption

Information required from the country of origin:

  • The Child Study request is your opportunity to ask for more information about the application from the child and his or her family in the home country. List for the authority any specific questions which you need answers to.

Contact the International Casework Team advisor about a country specific Child Study request template and child study request examples.

Liaison with the International Casework Team

When a Child Study request draft is completed and reviewed by the supervisor, social worker or supervisor should refer it electronically to the International Casework Team for consideration and approval.

On receipt of the request for a Child Study, the International Casework Team may wish to further consult about the situation. When satisfied with the request content, allocated advisor from the International Casework Team will add a covering letter to the designated authority in the child’s country of origin. This letter will detail New Zealand’s Hague Convention and legal responsibilities, other relevant overarching detail, the formal request for a report to be undertaken and any case-specific questions or clarifications sought.

The request for a Child Study is made by the International Casework Team to the relevant overseas authority. If there is no statutory authority in the child’s country of origin, the International Casework Team will canvass other options including International Social Service.

When the cost of the Child Study is not funded by the child’s state of origin, Oranga Tamariki meets the cost providing this is reasonable and the Child Study is viewed as relevant to the case. However, in intercountry adoption proposals where the child is from a country that has ratified the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention, the applicants should informed that they may be required to meet translation costs, if any are required (Article 34 Hague Convention).

The Child Study is not usually given to the adoptive applicants as it is likely to contain sensitive information about others. Personal data gathered or transmitted about the child, birth family or applicants shall only be used for the purpose they were transmitted, which is to make a decision whether to support or not an adoption proceeding.