Back in 2009, Acting Principal Family Court Judge Paul von Dadelszen called for a complete overhaul of the Adoption Act, arguing that it was outdated and discriminatory. Predictably, the government did nothing. But now Green MP Kevin Hague will be fronting a bill to totally rewrite the law:
The Member’s Bill places adoption in the Care of Children Act, as originally intended by the Law Commission, and makes the best interests of the child the fundamental principle underpinning the law. The Bill also:
- Ensures that all adoptions will be “open” unless exceptional circumstances mean there is a need to extinguish links with the child’s biological parents. While this has become common practice, the current law does not provide for it at all.
- Removes unnecessary restrictions on the kinds of people who may be considered to adopt, ensuring that adoptive parents can be selected from all the options, in the best interests of the child.
- Acknowledges, but does not regulate whāngai arrangements, which are instead controlled by traditional Iwi practice.
- Provides for the adoption of children conceived and born through altruistic surrogacy arrangements.
Its worth noting that this isn't just a Green effort; there's been a cross-party working group on it for some time, and National's Nikki Kaye has also contributed strongly to it.
This is a bill whose time has come. And it speaks volumes about the government's priorities that they are leaving it as a member's bill rather than progressing it themselves. But I guess ensuring fundamental rights for kids and adoptive parents just doesn't benefit National's rich backers enough.