Adop­tion: The le­gal frame­work

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION/ NEWS -

Gain­ing ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion on who their birth par­ents are can be very im­por­tant for adopted peo­ple.

They can seek that in­for­ma­tion. Sim­i­larly, birth par­ents may wish to get in­for­ma­tion on the adult they adopted out as a child.

This is set out in the Adult Adop­tion In­for­ma­tion Act 1985. Ac­cess by adopted peo­ple Adult adoptees (from the age of 20) can re­quest ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about their birth par­ents.

The type of in­for­ma­tion they can ac­cess will de­pend on when the adopted per­son was born.

For adoptees born be­fore March 1, 1986, a birth par­ent has the right to veto their ac­cess to iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion.

Ei­ther birth par­ent can re­strict ac­cess to iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion.

To do that the birth par­ent must reg­is­ter a ‘‘no ac­cess’’ en­dorse­ment on the orig­i­nal birth cer­tifi­cate.

This records that the adoptee is not al­lowed ac­cess to iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion.

En­dorse­ments re­strict­ing ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion ex­pire after they have been in place for 10 years, but they can be re­newed by the birth par­ent so that they re­main in place.

Birth par­ents can also seek to have an en­dorse­ment re­moved be­fore the ex­piry pe­riod, to al­low ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion.

If a birth par­ent dies and there is an un­ex­pired en­dorse­ment in place, the en­dorse­ment comes to an end and the in­for­ma­tion may be re­leased.

If iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion is able to be re­leased, the ap­pli­cant will be no­ti­fied of coun­selling op­tions avail­able to them.

If the ap­pli­cant was born be­fore March 1, 1986, and lives in New Zealand, they must re­ceive coun­selling be­fore an orig­i­nal birth cer­tifi­cate is re­leased.

The orig­i­nal birth cer­tifi­cate is sent to the so­cial worker fa­cil­i­tat­ing the coun­selling, to hold on be­half of the adoptee un­til coun­selling is com­plete.

Adoptees born after Fe­bru­ary 28, 1986, can choose whether to un­dergo coun­selling be­fore up­lift­ing an orig­i­nal birth cer­tifi­cate.

If they choose not to, they must wait 28 days be­fore up­lift­ing the orig­i­nal birth cer­tifi­cate.

Once an orig­i­nal birth cer­tifi­cate is ob­tained, an adoptee can seek fur­ther con­tact in­for­ma­tion in relation to a par­ent named on the cer­tifi­cate from Child, Youth and Fam­ily.

Ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion from court adop­tion records can also be ob­tained. Ac­cess by birth par­ents An adopted per­son, 19 and older, can re­quest that their orig­i­nal birth cer­tifi­cate be en­dorsed to record their de­sire not to have con­tact with one or both birth par­ents.

An ap­pli­cant for this type of en­dorse­ment will be of­fered coun­selling, which they may choose to have be­fore the en­dorse­ment is regis­tered.

En­dorse­ments of this na­ture ex­pire after 10 years. Fur­ther en­dorse­ments can be regis­tered.

Ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion for med­i­cal pur­poses

A doc­tor who be­lieves med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion about a birth rel­a­tive of a pa­tient (who is un­known to the pa­tient) is nec­es­sary for the pur­poses of treat­ment or ge­netic coun­selling can re­quest that in­for­ma­tion from a so­cial worker.

The doc­tor must not dis­close any iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion to the pa­tient. Ini­tial con­tact Ini­tial con­tact be­tween an adopted per­son and a birth par­ent can be dif­fi­cult for one or both be­cause all sorts of emo­tions can be present. There­fore the ini­tial meet­ing can be fa­cil­i­tated by a so­cial worker if re­quested by ei­ther party.

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