Frequently Asked Questions


Where are the workshops held?

Workshops are held in Auckland only. Numbers are insufficient to allow workshops to be held regularly in other parts of NZ.

Can AFS assist me to adopt a relative from overseas?

No, AFS does not assist with overseas adoptions for relatives. Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children is the NZ government agency that can help with this. You should contact your local branch of Oranga Tamariki directly.

Will I, or my child, ever be able to meet their birth mother or father?

Depending on the circumstances of the birth family and information found, this is may be possible but it is never certain. Some countries have closed adoption processes. This may possibly change in the future.

Will I know who the parents are of my adopted child?

Usually the amount of information provided at the time of adoption is limited, however some adoptive parents, or children, search for further information about their birth family after the adoption.

Can I meet adoptive parents prior to adopting?

Yes, we can help you to meet other adoptive parents and their children if you speak to the AFS Director or your Social Worker. See also

How will I know my child is medically fit and healthy?

Some information on health and medical issues may be available but this is not guaranteed and there may be issues that are unreported or unknown as with any child. You can get your child medically assessed when you bring them back to New Zealand.

Why are these children up for adoption?

These children are living in orphanages or are up for adoption for a number of reasons. They may have been abandoned, be living with other relatives, have health issues or their parents may have died or been unable to care for them etc.

If I adopt more than one child do they have to be siblings?

Usually, they are.

Can I adopt more than one child at a time?

Yes, subject to the outcome of an Assessment by a Social Worker and relevant New Zealand Government approvals.

Can I choose the sex and age range of the child?

Yes, subject to the Social Worker’s assessment of your suitability – and meeting the eligibility criteria of the country from which you wish to adopt – you can specify the gender and age range of a child. One of the key criteria that determines this is the age of you and your spouse as some countries place restrictions on age. Waiting times for younger children are generally longer.

How long does an adoption take?

AFS services (for education and assessment) takes about 6 months on average. The Placement Agencies (Oranga Tamariki, ICANZ and Compassion for Orphans) will advise you of the typical matching and waiting times for adoptions from each country as this also depends on a range of varying factors such as the age, gender and special needs of a child.

What if I want to adopt from Russia or another country?

New Zealand has programmes in place to adopt from six countries: Chile, Lithuania, India, Thailand, the Philippines and China. New Zealand residents can only legally adopt from these countries. New Zealand does not currently have an agreement in place to adopt from Russia.

What countries can AFS help me adopt from?

AFS is accredited to help you gain New Zealand Government approval from five countries: Chile, Lithuania, India, Thailand and the Philippines. Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children also facilitates adoptions from these countries as well as China. China has a very long waiting time (6-7 years) so this needs to be considered.

Can I choose the country from which I adopt?

New Zealand has adoption arrangements with six countries (China, Chile, India, Lithuania, The Philippines, and Thailand). Generally you may be able to adopt from any of these countries as long as you meet their eligibility criteria and the Social Worker assesses you as suitable for them.


Do I need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to adopt from overseas?

The vaccination itself is not a requirement to be approved for adoption from overseas however many countries ask about this and it is required that your vaccination status be recorded in the home study report. You also currently need a vaccination pass in order to obtain a visa to travel to collect your child from many countries. This could change in the future.

You will also be asked if you are prepared to vaccinate your adopted child according to NZ health guidelines.

Can I adopt from overseas if I am LGBT?

No, overseas countries set the criteria and they allow applicants from married heterosexual couples and single heterosexual woman only.

Criminal Record

You cannot have a criminal record.

What general Household criteria are there?

  • Be able to commit to parenting the child yourself, during the first year.
  • Couples must be legally married with evidence of a 3 year relationship. Some countries require a legal marriage for a minimum of 1 year (some countries allow exceptions).
  • Those who already have several children in their home may need to be willing to parent an older child or a child with some medical needs. Each country is different, so contact the placement agency for specific country advice.

What Physical and Financial criteria are there?

You must be:

  • Under 55 years old (age restrictions vary for each country and your age impacts on the age of child you can adopt).
  • In good physical, mental and emotional health (interpretation differs for each country)
  • Financially secure and show evidence that you are able to support a child

Can we adopt again if we have adopted before?

Yes. Adopting for a second time is reviewed on a case by case basis depending on a range of factors such as your age, number of children in the family, length of time since your last adoption etc. You will need to be reassessed as suitable and have another Home Study Report written. You can contact us to talk to us directly about this.

What if I am a New Zealand permanent resident or citizen living overseas?

You need to live in New Zealand for the Inter-Country adoption Education and Assessment process and to meet Post Placement criteria after you have returned to New Zealand with your child or children. This could be for a period of 2-5 years.

Do I have to be a New Zealand permanent resident?

Yes. You need to be a permanent NZ resident or citizen.

If a couple is adopting then both need to be permanent NZ residents or citizens.

Can I adopt if I am a single woman?

Yes, however the only countries that currently allow this are India, Thailand and The Philippines.

These are generally older children and all other criteria have to be met.

Can I adopt if I am a single man?



What if I disagree with your Assessment or contents of the Home Study Report?

We discuss progress with you at every step of the way and a draft Home Study Report is sent to you to check accuracy and provide feedback. If necessary there is an Appeal Process.

What if the NZCA doesn’t approve my Home Study Report?

The step by step process used by AFS means we can discuss any issues or concerns at every stage so it is likely – but not guaranteed – that you would be made aware of issues early on in the process. We will discuss these with you.

What if I am not successful in the Assessment?

During the Assessment if there are areas where there is not enough evidence of your suitability, these will be discussed with you by the Social Worker. If you are not assessed as suitable by the Social Worker then you will not proceed to have a Home Study Report written.

Will the same Social Worker undertake the Assessment as well as the Home Study Report?

Yes generally, although in some circumstances this may not be possible.

What is a Home Study Report?

The Home Study Report is a report written in the format of the sending country from which parents have been assessed as suitable to adopt. It includes recommendations on the gender, age range and health characteristics of a child or children that would be appropriate.
This report must be approved by the New Zealand Government’ Central Authority (NZCA) and is the document used by a Placement Agency to match parents with a child or children.

How long will the Assessment process take?

In a simple, straightforward scenario an Assessment and Home Study report can be completed within three months of the first social workers visit. This is after completion of the Education Programme, Psychology assessment and approval of all documentation. This also depends on how quickly you can provide all the evidence required eg marriage certificates, financial statements, police checks for testamentary guardians etc.

How often will you run the Education Workshop?

We offer the workshop, on a Saturday, in Auckland, 3 times a year.

How long does the on-line education take?

There is a minimum of 12 hours required for the on-line Education Programme (plus the Education Workshop). AFS wants to prepare you well for being adoptive parents so we encourage you to take time to discuss, reflect and consider the content of the programme.

What if there is a concern with my medical report or police or Oranga Tamariki record?

We will discuss any concerns with you. The NZCA undertakes Police and Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children checks and considers your medical assessment and references. They recommend whether you are suitable to proceed to the next step.


What are the costs?

AFS is a charitable trust and costs are charged progressively at the following rates to cover the professional fees of Social Workers, staff, the Education Programme, administration, report writing etc. See our costs page.


Where can I get support post adoption?

Your GP is a good place to start. They can refer you to other services depending on what you or your child may need. Special Education Services and Adoption support groups (on line or coffee/play groups) may also be useful. You can also ask your Placement agency for advice.

Who can answer my concerns or queries?

Adoption First Steps is happy to talk to you about any information you would like, concerns or queries. Many of us have adopted children from overseas so we are familiar with the process and happy to share our experience. Contact AFS. Placement Agencies are also a good source of information.

How can I find out more about inter-country adoption?

You can complete our Free Introductory Course, or you can contact us with any questions.
The ICANZ website and Compassions for Orphans websites (placement agencies) also provides information on intercountry adoption.
A great resource for adoptive families and for prospective adoptive families is the ICANZ Magazine. The magazine is produced twice a year and includes relevant adoption articles and personal stories. You can find out more, subscribe to or buy back issues by clicking this link – ICANZ Magazine.