The purpose of this project was to review the legal framework for adoption in New Zealand as set out in the Adoption Act 1955 and the Adult Adoption Information Act 1985, and to recommend whether and how the framework should be modified to better address contemporary social needs.
Terms of reference
In reviewing the legal framework for adoption in New Zealand as set out in the Adoption Act 1955, the Commission is asked to consider:
• the principles that should apply in relation to adoption;
• who may be adopted;
• who should be permitted to adopt, including whether there should be any restrictions on step parent or inter family adoptions;
• who should be required to consent to an adoption;
• whether an adoption order may be cancelled by an adopted person;
• whether there should be a statutory right of review for those refused approval as suitable applicants to adopt a child;
• whether there should be a period for revocation of consent by birth parents;
• whether the jurisdiction of the legislation should be limited to those cases where one or other party is resident in New Zealand;
• the recognition of overseas adoptions including the effect of section 3 of the Citizenship Act 1977;
• whether special recognition should be given to Maori customary adoptions or any other culturally different adoption practices;
• whether provision should be made for future contact between natural parents and other persons including grandparents, adoptive parents and the adopted child;
• the scope of applications under section 23 of the Adoption Act for information from the court;
• whether the scope of the Adult Adoption Information Act 1985 should be expanded to cover a wider range of persons;
• at what stage should an adopted child be entitled to information about his or her identity; and
• whether the current procedures under the Adult Adoption Information Act are still appropriate.
The Commission is not asked to examine past or current social worker practice under either the Adoption Act 1955 or the Adult Adoption Information Act 1985.
Adoption: Options for Reform (NZLC PP38, 1999)
The Commission's Preliminary Paper, Adoption: Options for Reform (NZLC PP38, 1999).
Adoption and Its Alternatives: A Different Approach and a New Framework (NZLC R65, 2000)
The Commission's Report, Adoption and Its Alternatives: A Different Approach and a New Framework (NZLC R65, 2000).
In response to the Commission’s report, policy proposals were developed but the proposals were not advanced by successive Governments.
The Ministry of Justice began a review of adoption law in 2021.
The Commission undertook a later reviewed later reviewed adoption in surrogacy arrangements as part of a wider review of surrogacy law.
There was no requirement for the Government to present a formal response to Commission reports before April 2009.