The Trials of Adopting Out in NZ

My wife and I successfully adopted two amazing children a couple of years ago. Our experience with Child Youth and Family was very positive and we are rapt with the result.

I am reprinting extracts of an article from the controversial website CYFWatch, not out of sour grapes, or emnity, but because I’d like more couples to have the positive experiences we have had.

There are fewer than 100 adoptions of Kiwis by Kiwis per year. Many of those are inter-family adoptions, so stranger to stranger adoption is extremely rare. Thirty years ago there were 4,000 per annum.

The article below gives you some idea why figures have deteriated so and what might be done to improve things.

As I mentioned yesterday, my teenage daughter found herself unexpectedly pregnant last year and decided that it would be in the best interests of the child, herself and some childless couple that an adoption be organised.

Now I have to say that this was a very brave and selfless decision on her part, in an era when adoptions have fallen to an all-time low and there’s almost a stigma surrounding anyone who’d give up their child in this way.

However, there’s just no way that a 19-year-old, in the middle of her education and without any job or other independent means of support could really give a child the opportunities and quality parenting that such kids need to grow up as positive members of society — and she knew this.

My partner and I were in no position to contribute to the upbringing of such a child but towards the end of the pregnancy, we became aware (through friends) of a couple who would make ideal adoptive parents.

Now this would seem to be a win-win-win situation for the baby, my daughter and the otherwise childless couple involved.

This couple came highly recommended by friends and after examining their own situation and establishing that they were good people who’d simply been dealt a tough hand by mother nature, everyone appeared happy.

What’s more, this couple had already applied to adopt children and had thus been carefully vetted by the relevant authorities — what could go wrong?

Well the answer to that was (of course) CYF.

We figured that the best way to handle the whole matter was for the adoptive parents to roll up to the hospital during the delivery and take the child home with them as soon as it was declared fit and healthy.

This would avoid the situation where the mother’s hormones kick in and subsequently create a strong bonding emotion with the child.

But CYF said no.

Their “policy”, we were told, was that the birth mother should look after the child for a period of almost two weeks before it could be handed over to the adoptive parents.

Now this seemed utterly stupid to all concerned. Why force a birth mother into the situation where she will inevitably form a strong bond with the child before they are separated? Why make the adoptive parents wait such an interminable length of time with the threat that the birth-mother will be overwhelmed by hormones and bonding to the point where she changes her mind.

It should be mentioned right now that there is no law that forbids the adoptive parents from collecting the child from the delivery room, none at all. It’s quite legal for them to do so — but it’s CYF “policy” that this must never happen.

When I asked CYF what would happen if we allowed the adoptive parents to do this the threats started rolling out.

If my daughter handed over the child in this way, CYF would oppose the adoption and a placement order would be denied. The child would be taken from the adoptive parents and placed into a home of CYF’s selection.

This was made extremely clear — if you don’t adhere to our “policy” (which is *not* the law) then the child, your daughter and the adoptive parents will pay the price.

At this stage I asked why this was CYF policy.

We were told that it was because the mother needed a reasonable period of time in which to change her mind after the birth.

I pointed out that right now (before the birth) my daughter was thinking rationally, reasonably and logically. Whether that frame of mind would persist after many hours of labour and a flood of hormones was unpredictable – and that being made to care for that child over a two-week period would almost certainly confuse and complicate issues to the point where her decision-making abilities may well be compromised.

Was this in the best interests of the child?

Indeed, I asked just that question — and got this rather stunning response:

“The United Nations has declared that the best place for a child is with its parents and if that’s not possible, with family. If that’s not possible then it’s with someone of their own race in their own country and if that’s not possible, it’s adoption to a foreign country”.

What the hell?

I asked why the CYF person was telling me what the UN was deciding was best for my daughter and her soon to be born child.

She repeated this little bit of canned prose “The United Nations has declared…”

Yes, it was brick-wall time!

So I asked to speak to her supervisor.

Exactly the same “I’m sorry but this is our policy and you have no choice” attitude was encountered.

I then moved further up the chain…

You guessed it — those I’d spoken to earlier were 100% correct, this is CYF policy. Even though you may be legally entitled to hand over the child at the delivery room, it’s against our policy and we will take the child if you do.

I also asked whether it would be possible for someone else to look after the child for those first couple of weeks prior to hand-over.

That would be fine I was told, it’s only the (already approved) adoptive parents who couldn’t do this without breaching CYF policy.

“So *anyone* else can look after the child? Even someone we just picked at random off the street?”

“Yes, that’s right — although I wouldn’t recommend that” was the reply.

Hang on a minute. According to CYF policy, I could haul some potential paedophile or murderer off the street, hand over my daughter’s child for two weeks and leave them to care for it — and that’s okay with CYF.

It’s no wonder so many of our most defenseless kids have been abused or slaughtered while in CYF’s “care” if this is their attitude.

I should mention that all during this time, we had another CYF worker trying to convince my daughter to keep her child and go on the DPB, like so many other young solo mothers.

“Why not keep the child, the government will pay you a good benefit and you can bring it up yourself?” was the message being regularly delivered here.

I thought CYF was supposed to be non-judgmental and unbiased in respect to a parent’s choices?

Maybe I’m old-school or just stupid, but isn’t it better that a child be brought up in a loving, caring two-parent home where there it gets a good chance at life?

Doesn’t it make sense that my daughter continue her education and become a positive contributor to society rather than a drain on the public purse for the next 16 years as a solo mother, struggling to provide a balanced upbringing to her child?

New Zeal This story rings true to me. The 12 day wait is certainly CYF policy. I assumed it was the law. I am surprised to hear that that it may be only a “policy”.

Our social worker told us of one couple who had adoptions lined up on two seperate occasions.

On each occasion, the baby went into care for 12 days and the couple visited every single day to bond with the child.

At almost the last day, both birth mothers changed their minds and refused to adopt out their babies. The couple were so gutted, they gave up on adoption altogether. They couldn’t go through the stress again.

I’m not religious, but I’ll tell you, I prayed every night for 12 nights, that that would not happen to us.

Furthermore, CYF social workers told me on several occasions that they were forbidden in any way to recommend adoption to a pregnant woman or girl.

However, I have certainly heard anecdotal evidence that social workers have actively tried to persuade mothers to back out of adoption agreements and go onto the DPB.

Adoption needs to be valued as a win-win option for all.

It is not the best choice in all cases, but at fewer than 100 Kiwi to Kiwi adoptions a year, there are clearly some changes needed.


Author: Admin

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