Adoption Orders

If you want to adopt a child in New Zealand, you’ll need to apply to the Family Court for an Adoption Order.

You should contact Child, Youth and Family first. Find out more about the adoption process on the Child, Youth & Family website (external link)

What an Adoption Order does

An Adoption Order makes the adoptive parents the parents of the adopted child and the adoptive parents’ relatives become the child’s relatives. It takes away the parenthood of the child’s birth parents.

Who can apply for an Adoption Order

You can apply to the Family Court to adopt if you are:

  • an individual (including a step parent) or
  • 2 spouses applying together or
  • a birth parent.

Unless there are special circumstances, at least 1 of you needs to be:

  • at least 25 years old and 20 or more years older than the child or
  • at least 20 years old and a relative of the child.

The law regarding adoption by a couple in a de facto relationship or civil union is complex. You may want to get legal advice.

A single man can’t adopt a girl unless the court believes the man is the child’s father or there are special circumstances.

You don’t need to be living in New Zealand to apply to the Family Court for an Adoption Order.

Before making an Adoption Order, the Family Court must be sure that the mother or parents have agreed to give up the child for adoption. This is called proof of consent. The court also needs to be sure that the people wanting to adopt will be good parents.

There are no filing fees when you apply for an Adoption Order.

Customary Māori adoptions

Customary Māori adoptions after 1910 are no longer recognised as a legal adoption.

In some cases, an Order about guardianship issues may better support a customary adoption rather than an Adoption Order.

Find out more about guardianship

Back to top

This page was last updated: