New Zealand International Adoption Process and Cost


The path to successful inter-country adoption can be long, tiring, and expensive. International adoption from New Zealand (NZ) is no exception. What then is the process and cost for international adoption from New Zealand?

New Zealand subscribes to the Hague Adoption Convention. The process for international adoption from New Zealand must, therefore, comply with Conventions requirements, and the respective New Zealand Adoption Act

Conditions set for adoptive families are very strict and, hence, favor only close relatives or families.

The NZ government authorities view adoption as very noble. As such, the court does not charge any fee for international adoption processes.

The total cost of adoption is determined by many factors. It’s not fixed. However, the total cost estimate for New Zealand adoption ranges from NZ$10,300 to NZ$24,400.

The legal fee, in USD, is between  $500 to $3,000. As the adoptive parent, you’ll have to pay the legal fee for the birth mother or parent/s as well.

In order to get the correct cost estimates, it’s important that you consult your service provider accordingly.

International Adoption From NZ Is Unique!

New Zealand is not a sending country for international adoption. Therefore, as a prospective adoptive foreign parent, you’ll not find NZ children waiting to be adopted. Advertising a child for adoption is illegal.

Its inter-country adoption is mostly among its citizens residing at home, and those living overseas. It’s geared towards promoting native heritage among its citizens and families. Therefore, if you’re a prospective adoptive New Zealander, you have got an advantage.

They ensure that adoptive parents have a cultural connection to the countries they desire to adopt from. As a result, the social life of  the adopted child is not culturally “disrupted”

New Zealand families living in other countries are therefore able to adopt needy children from NZ. Families staying overseas can adopt children from their home country or from specific countries.

International adoption from New Zealand-Lonely boy
Homeless Lonely Boy In Need of a Loving Family

Most New Zealand children in need of international adoptions are from overseas and are often older. Many of them suffer from emotional trauma due to their difficult life experiences or cultural factors.

Who Should Apply?

To be considered as an adoptive parent, you should be

  • Above 25 years
  • At least 20 years older than the child you want to adopt
  • A relative of the child you want to adopt or to one of his/her parents

For more details on Requirements for Adoptive are Here

It’s important to note that your eligibility may not be approved on certain health grounds. Further, your application will be rejected if you’ve have been convicted for have committed an offense linked to the safety of a child,

International Adoption (NZ)-The Authorities

The Chief Executive in the Ministry of Children (Oranga Tamariki) is the New Zealand Central Authority (NZCA). It, therefore, over-sees international adoption from New Zealand. New Zealand Child, Youth and Family Service (CYF) helps in initiating the adoption process in NZ.

It is only with the express permission of the New Zealand Family Court that a child can leave New Zealand

International Adoption(NZ)-The Children

An adoptive parent is selected by the birth mother. Therefore, your waiting time for selection as the adoptive parent cannot be predicted.

Once you get selected, you’re are required to apply for an Interim Order from NZ’s  Family Court. The normal approval time for the Final international Adoption Order is 9 months.

Other expenses will vary based on your Service Provider, and the processes involved. We shall highlight examples of expected expenses and costs involved later in this article.

International Adoption (NZ)- No Waiting Children!

Unlike several countries, there is no waiting list for international adoption from New Zealand. This is because it’s the couples who have full control over the parents adopting their children

The couple or mother has to sign a release document before a solicitor before the child can be ready for adoption.

Since the decision rests with the child’s mother ( and birth father in most instances), and not the Central Authority, your fate of being selected rests in the “invisible” hands of lack.

After you’re approved as an applicant, you’re then placed in the waiting pool for selection. This can take a period ranging from 1 week, 1 month or several years.

Since there is no guarantee, patience, prayer, and hope should be your ever-burning candles! 

U.S. Citizen Adoptive Parent-What To Expect

 If you’re a U.S citizen, the child will not qualify to get the U.S Immigration Visa as an orphan.

 It has to be verified that the mother is indeed the only surviving parent and that she is is not able to provide for the child’s needs.

“What are the reasons to give your child up for adoption?”

Why  Mothers Give Their Children up For Adoption

“Children are a gift from the Lord;  they are a reward from him”, Psalm 127:3

The decision for a mother signing her baby for adoption may sound unusual both culturally and religiously.

There are, however, common reasons why NZ birth mothers may opt to give their children up for adoption.

International Adoption From NZ-Birth Mother
A mother planning to give her baby up for adoption

 Some of these reasons include:

  • Not being prepared to be a mother
  • lack of desire to be a mother due to unplanned pregnancy
  • Being too young and hence not ready to be a parent
  • Lack of a strong bond with the baby
  • When  she already has a complete family, and can’t support another child
  • When she doesn’t feel any strong connection with child
  • Emotional traumas especially if the pregnancy was from a sexual assault
  • In case a baby has a medical condition that she cannot manage as a parent

As the preferred adoptive parent, your selection is a blessed one! It’s because the birth mother believes you are the best parent who will provide the best life for the child. It’s your time to rejoice

International Adoption (NZ)-The Countries Involved

In order to facilitate inter-country adoption, New Zealand has a special adoption agreement with certain Hague Adoption Convention member countries. Each country, however, has its own unique laws and requirements.

The agreement among the countries is primarily meant to facilitate the adoption of children by New Zealand families residing in the countries. Besides New Zealand, the 7  beneficiaries of this inter-country agreement are:

Besides New Zealand, the 7  beneficiaries of this inter-country agreement are:

  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Chile
  • Lithuania
  • Thailand
  • Philippines

Adoption From NZ By The U.S Citizen

International Adoption from NZ by a U.S citizen is strictly based on the Hague Adoption process. 

After birth mother’s consent, justifications and further verifications will be necessary before the child finally qualifies for Immigration Visa.

This is a safeguard to ensure that only NZ children who cannot be supported by their parents after birth are considered.

Issuance of the US Immigration Visa to the adopted children as orphans is, therefore, not based on the birth mothers’ signed consent adoption but proof.

International Adoption From NZ-The Process

Nea Zealand is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore, the adoption process must strictly follow the Convention’s requirements and steps.

Please note that The Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption process if you had submitted your Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition (Form 1-600a) with NZ before April 1, 2008.  You will be required to adopt a non-Convention adoption process.

The main steps are:

1. Choosing Approved/Accredited Adoption Service Provider

If you are in the United States, conduct research to identify and select Adoption Service provider who is Hague Accredited or Approved to operate within the U.S.

If you’re in NZ, you’ll need to contact a Social Worker to help you initiate the adoption process.

 Ensure the Adoption Agencies and the attorneys you’ve appointed to represent you are authorized to offer adoption services between NZ and the United States.

Authorities that Facilitate International Adoption From NZ

  • New Zealand Child, Youth and Family Service (CYF). CYF s the only body that will initiate your International Adoption from NZ through your ASP.   
  • The New Zealand Central Authority: They are in charge of both inter-country and domestic adoptions, and is authorized to approve all adoption placements withing the country.

2. Find Attorneys or Family Lawyers.

Find contacts of suitable attorneys by checking relevant NZ directories or contacting the US Consulate for the list of suitable attorneys.

Kindly note that the adoption authorities in the U.S Consulate in Aukland do not provide recommendations or give referrals.

Adoption Lawyer-Int
Adoption Lawyer

It’s, however, necessary that you conduct thorough research so that you select only a reliable law firm

3. Submit Your Application To Be Found Eligible to Adopt a Child

Having identified and chosen a suitable and Accredited Service Provider, you’ll now need to submit an application so that you’re found eligible to adopt a needy child.

 The application is to be submitted to the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  You’ll need Form I-800A for your application.

It’s only after the U.S government finds you eligible to adopt a child that your Service Provider will submit your application details to the New Zealand Adoption Authority.

They will assess your application based on New Zealand law to determine if you are eligible to adopt their child.

4. Getting A Match With A child

Having been determined by both the NZ and the U.S to be eligible to adopt, the Central Authority will list you as an approved applicant.

If a child is already available for you, they’ll provide you with a referral for the process to continue.

Please note that in  New Zealand, it’s the birth mothers (and fathers) that are responsible for choosing the adoptive parent for their children.

You may, therefore, now know how low you’ll be waiting in the Approved Applicants lists before you are selected.

New Zealand is not a sending country to international adoption.  

NZ Central Authority, therefore, does not keep dossiers from international applicants for non-relative children adoption.

5. Submit The Child’s Application To Be Found Eligible

If a suitable match is proposed to you by the New Zealand Central Authority, you may choose to reject or accept the match.

Under the current situations, the child’s family or birth mother will directly choose you as their preferred adoptive parent.  

After your acceptance, you’re required to submit an application to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

You will use Form 1-800 for the application which seeks for provisional approval of you as the adoptive parent of the child.

The application serves to determine if, the child is eligible to be adopted and can enter the United state lawfully.

When found to be eligible to be adopted, the visa application for your child will be submitted to the U.S Embassy’s Consular Office where his/her details will be assessed.

When found to be eligible to travel to the US as an immigrant, a notification document (Article 5 letter) is then sent to the New Zealand Authority.

Under the Hague Convention, it’s only after this document is received that you, the prospective adoptive parent can proceed with the adoption process or seek the child’s custody.

This is necessary since, at the end of the adoption process, it’s the Consular office that makes the final decision regarding the immigrant’s visa issuance

6. Adopting the Child / Legal Custody Issuance

Upon successful completion of the above mandatory steps, you’ll then be granted the custody of your adopted child.

Stages Involved in this final adoption process include

  • Submitting your Application for Adoption.
  • You ‘ll be required to appear in the court for a hearing necessary for the issuance of the Interim Adoption
  • Payment of money to facilitate the process, taking the baby home before the issuance of the Interim Order and without the approval of a Social Worker is illegal and may fetch penalties such as fines and even imprisonment.
  • Before you can take the child home, all the necessary U.S laws on immigration must be complied with accordingly.
  • Adoption Fee: Services offered by the respective NZ government agencies are free including the Court services. You’ll, however, need to pay for the legal fee ranging from NZ $2,000 to NZ $4000 based on the contract document

Your agency will furnish you with all the other expenses incurred during the entire adoption process

  • Documents Required: If you are an NZ resident, you may be required to submit a special application form which may include:
  • References
  • Your consent to the security police check
  • Medical Examination Report

Important Note:

If you are U.S citizen adopting in Australia, you’ll be required to produce Home Study Report duly compiled by your Service Provider, and authenticated accordingly.


7. Bringing Your Child Home:

International Adoption (NZ)
A couple with two adopted children

To finally bring your child home, you’ll need to process 3 necessary traveling documents. These include:

The birth certificate will enable you to apply for the child’s New Zealand Passport

The adoption having been granted and the passport now ready, visit the U.S embassy for the final approval of the earlier submitted child’s 1-800 petitions.

The immigrant visa will then be issued to enable you to travel with the baby

Ensure that you’ve got all the relevant medical reports from the Consular “Panel Physicians”

If you’re NZ Citizen, get in touch with the U.S. Consulate General before commencing the process.

8. Post-Adoption Placement Reports

After a successful adoption process, a country may require that Post-Placement Reports are submitted as scheduled by your Social Worker

The reporting schedule varies from country to country. It’s important that you adhere to the schedule.

Take time to research on Post-Placement Reports so that you are fully aware of what will be expected during the reporting period.

Important Note: When adopting to New Zealand from other countries, you’ll have to comply with NZ’s requirements. Your Social Worker will guide you accordingly

Table Showing Inter-country Adoption Processes and Durations from Both Chile and Thailand to New Zealand

Process No Activity Duration –Chile to NZ(Months) Duration-Thailand to NZ
  1 Oranga Tangariki Course training, Personal Profile, Home Study Report 5 to 8 Months 5 to 8 Months
2 Education Preparation 1 to 2 months  
  3 From the time of submitting an application from either Chile or Thailand For Children of 7-9 years:
12-24 months
5-6 years:
2 years or more
24 Months
(2 years)
  4 Matching and Acceptance and proposal for a trip to Chile From NZ 1 to 2 months 1 to 2 Months
  5 Traveling to Meet the child to finalize the adoption process (For Chile, you’ll have to attend the Court Hearings) 3 Weeks 5 to 6 days
6 Passport and Visa Processing 4 to 6 Weeks 3 to 8 days

International Adoption From NZ- What’s The Cost?

Due to various factors including the adoption program and your choice of Service Provider, the cost of international adoption from New Zealand can only be estimated.

Inter-country adoption from NZ can attract legal fee ranging between $500-$3,000. Several factors will determine the total cost.

Some of the expenses to consider include:

  • Documentation Expenses
  • Air travel  Expenses
  • Trip and Accommodation Expenses
  • Lega Fee
  • Air Ticket Expenses
  • Other Expenses

Your Service Provider ought to provide you with comprehensive detail of all the expenses at the beginning of the process.

Table Showing Costs Estimates for International Adoption to New Zealand from Chile and Thailand

Expense Description Inter-Country Adoption Cost-NZ to Chile(Z$) Inter-Country Adoption Cost-NZ to Thailand(Z$)
Oranga Tamariki Training Course and Home Study Report Nil Nil
Documentation and Verification Expenses $5,800 $1,500
Airticket Expense (2 Adults) $6,000 $3,000
Local Travel $1,000 $1,000
Food & Accommodation $4,000 $2,000
Legal Fee – Chile Nil**** N/A
Sustenance Costs Nil Nil
Overseas Representative charges $2,000 Nil
Airtravel
(Adopted child)
$1,200 $600
Miscellaneous $2,000 $1,000
Post-Adoption Reports (6 Reports For Chile) &3 Reports for Thailand $2,400 $1,200
Agency Fee Nil Nil
Estimated Costs NZ$24,400.00 NZ$10,300.00

Note: The costs indicated are for reference only and not fixed rates.

Important Things to Note

Apart from the mandatory requirements, your application to adopt from NZ will only be considered if you:

  • Are NZ citizen or have family relations or heritage links
  • Reside in NZ or in one of the countries with Inter-country Adoption agreement with New Zealand
  • You adhere to laws of the child’s country and the country you’re bringing the child from
  • Patient and have a deep passion to provide love, care, love and permanent home for a needy Kiwi child

Important Links:

Meshack Sewe

Meshack, is a tech-savvy Creative Copywriter, Poet, & Entrepreneur who is very passionate about Adoption and Humanitarian activities. He has served as both Program Officer, and Program Manager with two Non-Governmental Organizations focusing on orphaned children and vulnerable girls

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