Update the NZ Adoption Act to simplify and speed up the process for adoption.
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There is a far greater need for the NZ Adoption Act 1955 to be reviewed in a broader sense.
The Key Issues are:
- The Adoption Act 1955 is outdated for modern NZ. It is complicated and not clearly understood.
- The intending parents, even if they are the biological parent(s), are not named on the birth certificate. The person who gives birth to the baby is currently the legal guardian of the child and the 'mother's' partner if any, is the legal father according to the law.
- The law requires Oranga Tamariki to provide authorisation for the Intending Parents to take the child home from hospital. Without this authorisation, the child has to stay with the birth mother.
- The adoption application has a deadline for completing the adoption forms within 28 days of the authorisation date from Oranga Tamariki.
- A same sex Male couple is not able to adopt a female child, unless they are married.
- Section 17 of the Adoption Act does not allow NZ citizens living overseas to adopt domestically under the laws of that country.
- There are no current agreements with any overseas countries that allow for same sex adoption.
- Surrogates cannot be compensated for their time, loss of wages or any other costs other than direct costs (hospital, drugs etc)
- There is no ability for Surrogacy agreements to be enforced. If the surrogate decided to keep the child, the law is in favour of the 'natural parent' (birth mother), even if they have no biological connection (donor egg and donor sperm).
- In our situation, we completed the ETHICS process which required 6 months of counselling for all involved (egg donor + partner, surrogate and intending parents), lawyers meetings and letters, and an application to the ETHICS committee. This group decided whether or not we were fit to become parents, and that we, along with our surrogate and egg donor (and their partners) understood the risks are requirements associated with surrogacy and adoption. This process cost in excess of $10,000.
- We believe the ETHICS approval process should remove any need for adoption and the intending parents should be listed as parents from the day the child is born.
Other considerations I would like to see:
- Make the Adoption process clear and understandable, with a checklist of what is required, and have the forms readily available with step by step process, so Intending Parents can complete this without the $10,000 legal costs.
- The staff at the Courts be trained on what is required, and what they are required to do (sign consents etc). This was a major downfall we encountered with no-one knowing what was required.
- Reduce the need for Oranga Tamariki to be involved. They are already under resourced, and ETHICS approval should cover the requirements via a fertility clinic or otherwise.
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