Adoption law needs shake up

Published: Fri 29 Jul 2011 04:00 PM
Spokesperson for Youth Affairs and
Youth Justice
Adoption law needs shake up
Labour’s Youth Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern is pushing to have New Zealand’s antiquated and discriminatory adoption laws modernised and updated.
Jacinda Ardern will next week table a Care of Children Law Reform Bill that requires the Law Commission to review and update adoption law to better reflect modern New Zealand, and put the interests of children at the heart of any decision-making about their future. It would replace the current Adoption Act which governs children and the relationships between them and their wider families – both adoptive and biological.
“The current Adoption Act needs changing. It is over 50 years old. It was written at a time when we had far more ‘stranger’ adoptions than we do now. It discriminates against prospective parents, doesn’t take into account whangai adoption and prevents children from being cared for in the best possible family environment,” Jacinda Ardern said.
She has written to Justice Minister Simon Power today, challenging the National Government to look at the issue.
“The Human Rights Commission has confirmed that a review of adoption law is long overdue. This is an issue that the Government should be taking charge of, but, given they have ruled out work in this area before, we are progressing it through this member’s bill.”
Jacinda Ardern’s move comes at the same time Adoption Action Inc has launched a campaign to have the half-century old legislation overhauled. It has filed a claim with the Human Rights Commission saying current laws breach the Bill of Rights and the Human Rights Act.
“The current Act fails to recognise that more than three quarters of children adopted today are not adopted by ‘strangers’ but by wider family, including relatives and long term partners of the biological parents.
“It also fails to take into account the number of legislative changes introduced over the past decade areas such as assisted reproduction technology, surrogacy and the legal status of de facto relationships and civil unions.”
She said her Bill is aimed at recognising developments in the fields of child protection, relationship status and whangai adoption practices, and would have the care and wellbeing of children at its core.
“Simon Power has been reported as saying the Act does potentially needed reviewing, but that it was not a high priority.
“The welfare of our children is paramount, and that should be reflected in legislation. We owe it to them and to their adoptive families, whatever form they may take,” Jacinda Ardern said.

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