Considering shifting focus from fertility treatment to adoption as a way of building a family is a significant decision. When fertility treatment is no longer viable (which could be for a number of reasons), there are still options available; adoption being one such option. Many people will wish to think about the impact of adoption on them as a family before they begin the process. Couples and singles most often undertake fertility treatment in order to become parents of a child genetically related to them. It is completely normal to go through a grieving process, mourning the loss of what could have been. Adoption involves a completely different process for achieving a child; no less powerful and important; but certainly different.
It is strongly recommended by both fertility clinics and Oranga Tamariki that people finish any form of fertility treatment before applying to adopt. Both fertility treatment and the adoption process are emotionally exhausting and require people’s full attention.
Deciding to commence the adoption process requires thought and discussion. It is a big step, often with a change in focus with different goals and steps along the way. There are counsellors at fertility clinics and social workers at Oranga Tamariki who are trained and able to provide information to help with this transition. Families created by adoption are very similar in most ways to families with children born to them.
The process of adoption
The process of adoption is robust and can be lengthy.
• Step 1 Initial contact should be made with the Adoption Services section of Oranga Tamariki (current contact details on the Oranga Tamariki website). People will be recommended to attend an information session which explains the adoption process and allows time to discuss issues and answer questions.
• Step 2 A number of forms are required to be completed and submitted including provision of medical information and authority for Oranga Tamariki to conduct police checks and reference checks.
• Step 3 Attendance is then required at a series of seminars to give an understanding of adoption within New Zealand and internationally, and the open adoption system. At this point, people are assigned a social worker to become the contact with Adoption Services.
• Step 4 Social worker interviews and home visits from social workers are conducted, which focus on the many issues surrounding adoption.
• Step 5 People are then required to create a profile about themselves to be made available to birth parents in order to help selection. When the requirements are completed, the profile is put into the pool for consideration by birth parents. If chosen by birth parents, the adopting parent(s) will be supported through the next stages by their social worker. This time is an exciting and anxious time for adopting parent(s).
The Legal Situation
In New Zealand, a birth mother is not legally allowed to sign an interim adoption order until 10 full days have elapsed since the birth of her child. She is required to see a separate lawyer from the adopting parents. Upon her signing, the adoptive parents are able to sign their side of the agreement to become the legal parents of the child. At that point, the adoptive parents can take the child home to begin their lives together as a family.
This interim order will need to be made final after about a year by applying to the court for the final order. At this point the adopted child is given a new birth certificate. The adoptive parents’ lawyer will be familiar with the process of adoption and will help guide parents through this.