Adoption Law Reform: Options for creating a new system

The Government is reforming our adoption laws.

The aim of the reform is to create a new system that protects the rights, best interests and welfare of children, upholds our Tiriti o Waitangi obligations, and upholds our international human rights obligations. We want to put tamariki, our children, at the heart of our adoption laws.

We’re holding a second round of engagement between June and August 2022 to seek people’s views on the options for reform. Your thoughts and ideas will play an important part in helping to make our adoption laws fit for a modern Aotearoa New Zealand – please share them with us.

You can read the discussion document A new adoption system for Aotearoa New Zealand and find out how to have your say at:

 Adoption law reform: How to have your say

The options for reform the Government is considering would create a new adoption system that:

  • has a child-centred purpose of adoption
  • ensures legal connections to adoptive and birth family and whānau
  • supports meaningful participation of children and birth family and whānau
  • supports post-adoption contact to keep children connected to their birth family and whānau
  • creates automatic access to information on original birth record, with counselling available if requested
  • supports the adopted person to be connected to their birth culture.

We will use the feedback received during this round of engagement to inform the development of final policy proposals for adoption law reform.

Last year, we heard people’s experiences of, and views on, adoption in New Zealand. Most people agreed that the Adoption Act 1955, which is now 67 years old, is out of date and needs to change. Feedback also showed that adoption laws should be centred on the best interests of the child, including their right to identity and to maintain family connections, and to access information and support. You can find information about last year’s first round of engagement, including the discussion document Adoption in Aotearoa New Zealand, summary of submissions from engagement and Targeted Engagement: Adoption law reform report here.

Whāngai

As part of this work, the Government also wants to hear from Māori about whether there needs to be changes to the way the law treats whāngai and, if so, what the process for making those changes should look like.

Pou Tikanga are partnering with Ināia Tonu Nei(external link) to host a one-day, Māori-led wānanga specifically on whāngai on Wednesday 10 August, at Wharewaka o Poneke, Wellington.

You can register to attend at www.eventbrite.com/e/whangai-wananga-tickets-360139094727(external link).

Surrogacy

Options relating to surrogacy are not included in the discussion document. Te Aka Matua o te Ture | the Law Commission recently completed its review of surrogacy laws. In its report, Te Kōpū Whāngai: He Arotake | Review of Surrogacy, the Law Commission has recommended creating new processes for establishing legal parenthood in surrogacy arrangements. The Government will be considering the Law Commission’s recommendations for reforming surrogacy laws separately.

Current state of New Zealand's adoption laws

New Zealand’s adoption laws are in three pieces of legislation:

Related links

Proactive release - Government response to the Social Services and Community Committee report on matters related to forced adoptions   [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Proactive release - Second Interim Regulatory Impact Statement: Consultation options for adoption law reform [PDF, 1.6 MB]