Couples get new hope for adoption

by Sacha Molloy, AUT journalism student | 13th August 2010

Rotorua couples desperate to adopt may face an easier road ahead as Russia opens its doors.

Russian officials have begun negotiating an agreement with Child Youth and Family and Intercountry Adoption New Zealand to allow New Zealanders to adopt from Russia.

Russian adoptions were suspended in 2006 but ICANZ were recently granted a permit allowing them to operate an adoption programme which is consistent with the laws of the Hague Convention.

C3 Rotorua Church pastor Phil Wiseman and his wife Jill adopted their 7-year-old daughter through Child Youth and Family when she was three weeks old.

The couple were unable to have their own children and the idea of adoption arose in the early 2000s while Mr Wiseman was on a trip to Romania.

“I was very keen to adopt through Romania. I saw one child I would have loved to bring back,” he said.

Unfortunately the doors for international adoption closed around this time as Romanian officials struggled to maintain control over an adoption industry which had become “corrupt”.

The Wisemans next looked into adopting a Russian child through ICANZ but they had barely begun the application process when they received a phone call from Child Youth and Family in Auckland.

They were told there was a family in Whangarei looking for someone to adopt a child.

Mr Wiseman said he thought the move to open up international adoption laws in Russia was a good move but international adoption was costly.

“I’ve been in those countries and the children don’t get a very good life. Unfortunately it’s [intercountry adoption] the domain of the fairly wealthy. We were told it would cost us $30,000.”

He said adoption could be a lengthy process, ultimately depending on an applicant’s portfolio being chosen by birth parents. “The demand exceeds the supply in New Zealand.”

At the time of his daughter’s adoption there were 70 couples on the waiting list but only eight placements that year.

Ministry of Social Development director of international adoptions Paula Attrill said now ICANZ had a permit in Russia the next step was for the New Zealand Government, through Child, Youth and Family, to start negotiating with Russian authorities to formalise a process acceptable to both countries.

There are more than 670 Russian adopted children in New Zealand but Child, Youth and Family could not say how many live in Rotorua.

There is interest in New Zealand in intercountry adoption just as there is interest in adopting New Zealand children.

As at July this year there were 278 New Zealand parents waiting to adopt a child from New Zealand.

New Zealand also has adoption programmes with seven other countries – Chile, China, Hong Kong, India, Lithuania, Thailand and the Philippines.

It is birth families who consider placing a child for adoption and who choose the adoptive family.

“This means some approved adoptive applicants in the waiting pool in New Zealand may never be selected by a birth family and others may have the opportunity to adopt more than once,” Ms Attrill said.