Call to give birth parents contact rights under law

NZ Herald Aug 21, 2009

Adoptive parents are welcoming a call to rewrite New Zealand’s 54-year-old adoption law – but say the most urgent need is to legislate for “open” adoptions where birth parents can keep in touch with their children. Acting Principal Family Court Judge Paul von Dadelszen called this week for a review of the 1955 Adoption Act to remove discrimination against de facto and gay couples, who are currently barred from adopting.

But groups representing the country’s dwindling numbers of adoptive parents said adoption was now so rare that they had had inquiries from only a handful of de facto and gay couples wanting to adopt. Simon Kingham of the Adoption Option Trust in Christchurch said the biggest problem with the law was that it was written at a time when adoptions were “closed”, meaning birth parents gave up all contact with their children. Today virtually all adoptions are “open” and birth parents actually choose the adoptive parents for their babies – and stay in touch.