Adoption Process

New Zealand residents may be eligible to adopt from Chile, India, Lithuania, Thailand, the Philippines and China.
However, there are many considerations, steps and approvals around adopting from overseas.

Check eligibility – Each country has different requirements around things such as age, marital status, number of existing children etc and you must meet these before being able to adopt from that country. AFS Free on-line Introduction to Inter-country Adoption explains these and can help you explore your options.

Approval – New Zealand Government approval is required and there are various steps and requirements to get this. AFS Adoption Services helps with this process.

Child Placement – Upon Government approval, adoptive families can then work with a Placement Agency to be matched with a child. Three Placement Agencies provide further information including more about eligibility.

Adoption is overseen by the New Zealand Central Authority which is part of the Ministry of Social Development.

Who can assist me through the adoption process?

You can use AFS Adoption Services to seek Government Approval. Otherwise you can work with the Government’s Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

You then need to work with one of the Child Placement Agencies listed above to be matched with a child.

What is the process for inter-country adoption?

There are a lot of checks, approvals and legalities involved in inter- country adoption and each country has different processes and requirements which change from time to time. However, the drop down boxes below provide a general outline of each step.
AFS helps with Steps 1 through to 4.

Steps 1- 4 Checks, Education, Suitability Assessment and Home Study Report

These services are provided by Adoption First Steps.

Step 1 – Checks

All Prospective Adoptive Parents must provide detailed personal information. They must also have a Medical Assessment and References as well as Police (New Zealand and overseas) and Ministry for Vulnerable Children (Oranga Tamariki) checks. These are undertaken, or reviewed by, the New Zealand Government’s Central Authority (NZCA) to assess their eligibility. This step is also called Documentary Assessment and more information is on the Ministry for Vulnerable Children website.

Step 2 – Education about Adopting from Overseas

Prospective Adoptive Parents must complete an Education Programme about inter-country adoption so they are able to understand the specific needs of a child adopted from an orphanage or other care and are well prepared to meet them.

Step 3 – Assessment for Suitability

A qualified Social Worker must formally assess Prospective Adoptive Parents as suitable based on interviews at their home, evidence of their parenting skills, personal circumstances, home environment, etc. This assessment considers the age, gender, number of children and the country from which they would be suitable to adopt. Some countries now also require a psychologist’s report.

Step 4 – Home Study Report

If Prospective Adoptive Parents are assessed as suitable, a Social Worker writes a Home Study Report. This details the outcomes of the Assessment in Step 3 including the country from which the parents are suitable to adopt and the age, gender and number of children. It is sent to the New Zealand Central Authority (NZCA) for approval.
Upon approval, Prospective Adoptive Parents then provide the completed Report to their selected Placement Agency to be matched with a child or children. Placement agencies are:

AFS services cover these steps for adoptions from five countries: Chile, India, Lithuania, Thailand and the Philippines.


Steps 5 – 8 Documentation and Placement of Child

These services are provided by a Placement Agency

Step 5 – Document Preparation

The Placement Agency prepares all the pre-placement legal and other documents required by the country from which Prospective Adoptive Parents are approved to adopt.

Step 6 – Applying Overseas

The Placement Agency applies to the appropriate overseas authority of the country from which the Prospective Adoptive Parents are approved to adopt using the Home Study Report as the basis for the adoption.

Step 7 – Matching to a Child or Children

A child or children are matched to Prospective Adoptive Parents based on the Home Study Report.

Step 8 – Travel to the Country of Adoption

Prospective Adoptive Parents then travel to the relevant country to meet the child or children. Upon acceptance of the child or children, formal legal processes and approval are then completed in the overseas country as well as in New Zealand.


Step 9 – Returning Home

Parents bring their child or children home, completing or finalising all necessary legal processes required. There is also post placement monitoring by the Placement Agency for several years to offer support and ensure the child is settling in well.