Green MP Kevin Hague today unveiled a Bill to comprehensively overhaul adoption law and address related surrogacy issues, which will be entered in the next Members' bill ballot.
"This Bill is the result of considerable work, and is a much more ambitious reform than is usually attempted through the Members' bill process," Kevin Hague said.
"The Law Commission reviewed adoption law and in 2000 recommended the consolidation of the legislation relating to parenting and care of children. The changes they recommended are what we have based my Members Bill on.
"We have also used previous Ministry of Justice advice, and more recently had assistance from other experts with an interest in these issues. I want to thank everyone for helping us get the Bill this far.
"I previously had a Member's bill in the ballot that would provide for adoption by same-sex and de facto couples, but withdrew it as it became clear that comprehensive reform of adoption law was needed.
"The Green Party convened a cross-party group to focus on this issue, and has worked with National MP Nikki Kaye to continue this work.
"There seems to be a very broad consensus across Parliament that the law, which dates from 1955, requires overhaul.
"I hope that this Bill will attract broad support and I intend to work across the House to build this while the Bill sits in the ballot waiting to be drawn," said Mr Hague.
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.
"Drafting a Bill of this size means that I'm sure there are further improvements that can be made. I will continue to work with interested parties to fine-tune the Bill while it sits in the ballot waiting to be drawn.
"For example, I would expect the provisions in the Bill relating to inter country adoptions from countries that are not party to the Hague Convention are very likely to be changed while the Bill sits in the ballot.
"Further opportunities to strengthen the Bill will also come through the select committee process once it has been drawn," said Mr Hague.