The adoption process can seem scary. Some of the key stages are explained here.
If you are considering placing a child for adoption in New Zealand you will need to make contact with the Adoption Information and Services Unit at Child Youth and Family. Their number is listed in the government section at the front of the White Pages telephone book or you can call 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459).
Meeting an adoption social worker
Initially you will meet with a social worker who will discuss how the adoption process works. You may like to take your partner, trusted friend or family member along for support.
If you decide that adoption is the right decision for you and your baby, you will meet with your social worker several more times. Your social worker will begin gathering information about yourself and the birthfather, such as your interests, education, health and family background. You will then be asked to think about the type of family you would like your child to be placed into. Some examples of the things to consider might be:
Would you like your child to go to a family with other children?
Would you like your child to be raised in the city or the country?
Would you prefer the child to stay in the same town as you?
Your social worker will be able to help you think through the issues.
Once your social worker has a good picture of the type of family you want, he or she will be able to supply you with a selection of adoptive couple profiles. Profiles are folders that provide lots of information including photos about the adoptive couples and their families. Reading profiles is like reading someone life’s story. Profiles are generally shown about a month before baby's due date (though this can vary slightly).
When you have chosen a couple from the profiles your social worker will call them to let them know. If you would like to meet the couple (and most people do), your social worker will arrange a time and place. It can be at your home, their home, or somewhere neutral, such as the CYF office. This meeting is understandably nerve wracking for both parties so taking a support person along, if you can, is a good idea.
Meeting the couple is a good time to discuss the type and frequency of contact you would like. This of course needs to be mutually agreed upon. Every adoption situation is unique and they all vary in the level of contact.
Your social worker will draw up what you have all agreed on. This is not legally enforceable and the agreement relies on the goodwill commitment from both the birth and adoptive families.
Your social worker will ask you to think about how you would like to care for your baby immediately after birth. The options are
for the baby to remain in your care until the consent papers are signed (this is usually at least twelve days after the birth)
or for your baby be placed with a special baby foster carer. These women are specially trained and are sensitive to the situation. You will be able to visit the baby as often as you need if you choose this option.
You will need to register your baby’s birth. Your social worker will be able to guide you in how to do this. Sometimes it is possible to agree on a baby’s name with the adopting couple. If this is not possible the adoptive couple can change the name later when they get a new birth certificate for the baby.
The legal paperwork needs to be finalized but this will not cost you anything. You will need a lawyer but the adoptive couple pays the birth mother’s legal fees. In New Zealand the law is that once you (the birthmother) sign consent forms, i.e. the legal papers giving the adopting parents full legal rights and responsibility of the child, it is almost impossible to change your mind. You do not have to complete forms by yourself. Your social worker and lawyer will be able to give you any help you require.