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A New Zealand Intercountry Adoption Agency Accredited under the Adoption (Intercountry) Act 1997

Adoption Questions?


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Frequently asked questions about intercountry adoption

  1. What is intercountry adoption?
  2. Who oversees intercountry adoption programmes?
  3. What are intercountry adoption standards?
  4. What is the Hague Convention?
  5. From what country can a child be adopted?
  6. Do we need to belong to a particular faith to adopt?
  7. What age are the children?
  8. What is the cost to adopt?
  9. How long does it take?
  10. Is there any support available?
  11. What if the family experiences problems?
  12. What is the eligibility criteria?


What is intercountry adoption?

Intercountry adoption is a complex process, involving coordination and communication across various agencies at different levels of government as well as liaison with authorities in overseas countries.

The adoption authorities in the child's country must be satisfied that adoption in another country is the best choice of care for the child once it is established that there is no chance of the child being cared for by his or her immediate family, extended family, or within his or her own country and culture.

Although some children who are adopted to a foreign country are orphans or have been abandoned, many have lived with their parents and siblings or their extended family. Some are relinquished because of illness or poverty in the family.

Who oversees intercountry adoption programmes?

The New Zealand Central Authority oversees the conduct and establishment of all adoption programmes New Zealand has with overseas countries. More details about the way intercountry adoption works in New Zealand can be found on the following website “Adopting a Child from Overseas”.

What are intercountry adoption standards?

It is very serious for a child to be transferred from their country of origin and brought up in a foreign country by people of a different race and culture to their own. It is critical that every measure is taken to ensure that such a process is in the child's best interests.

Intercountry adoption must be regulated by strict principles and practices to ensure that no abduction of, sale of, or trafficking in children occurs.

What is the Hague Convention?

This convention is an international treaty, which was developed as a result of the establishment of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, to address the particular rights and needs of children who are affected by intercountry adoption.

New Zealand has formally committed to these international standards in intercountry adoption by becoming a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption. This came into effect in New Zealand on 1 January 1999.

From what country can a child be adopted?

Children are adopted by New Zealand families from some countries that have ratified the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption and from countries with which New Zealand has country to country agreements.

New Zealand has entered into formal agreements with the following Hague Convention Countries:

  • Chile
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Lithuania
  • Philippines
  • Thailand

At present, Compassion for Orphans has an established programme with Chile. Our India programme is a new programme and our intercountry procedures with India are still under development.

Do we need to belong to a particular faith to adopt?

There is no requirement to belong to any particular faith to adopt from Chile. Whilst we are a Christian organisation, neither we, nor the New Zealand or Chilean Governments, preclude prospective adoptive parents from adopting based on religious beliefs.

What age are the children?

In our Chile programme, infants are not available for adoption because, between the ages of 0 - 6 years, the aim of the State is to strengthen the child’s biological family with a view to sending the children back to the biological family. If this is not possible then the child is placed for adoption in Chile. In special circumstances the adoption of an infant will be considered.  These special circumstances are special needs (e.g. a child with a physical disability) or where the infant is part of a sibling group where one of the children is over 5 years of age. (Applicants must state the maximum age of the older child that they would be prepared to adopt). A child in a sibling group does not necessarily need to be a blood relative. There are circumstances where a group which has grown up together in the institution where it will be considered in the best interests of the child that group should be kept together. If separation should occur then provision must be made for them to remain in contact.

Unless there are special circumstances as stated above Chile will only accept applications for children 5 years of age and over. The greatest needs are for children between 7 and 8 years of age children with special needs all of whom are likely to remain institutionalised if not adopted.

What is the cost to adopt?

One of the main objectives of Compassion for Orphans is to make the cost of adoption as low as possible. We constantly challenge every cost in the process. Below is a summary of the current estimated costs of adopting from Chile.

The amounts can only be estimates due to the nature of intercountry adoption (i.e. delays, unexpected law changes at short notice, longer stays required, currency fluctuations, low/high season price variations, etc).

The estimated costs listed below are fully transparent and based on a “user pays” principle.

    Estimated Cost
1 Child Youth and Family Courses, Home Study Reports etc** Nil

Compiling documents required by Chilean authorities, translation of documents into Spanish, Notarisation, Verification and Authentication***.

Translation of documents relating to the child



3 Airfares (2 adults) $6000
4 Internal Travel $1000
5 Accommodation $4000
6 Legal Representation in Chile Nil**** 
7 Sustenance (based on the principle that applicants will act on the same basis as if they were in New Zealand) Nil 
8 Overseas Representatives Charges $2000 
9 Airfare for Adopted Child $1200
10 Miscellaneous $2000 
11 Post Placement Reports (6 reports) $2400 
12 ‘Compassion for Orphans’ Fee (as at June 2016) Nil 
13 Total Estimated Cost NZ$24400

* Based on 1 child. If more than 1 child, then add an additional $1000 for translation cost and $1200 for airfare.

** If using the accredited agency Adoption First Steps, you will need to add their charges.

*** includes psychologist's report

**** service is usually provided by the Chilean Central Authority however where this is not available a charge for private legal representation will apply (in the region of $1500)

How long does it take?

Please note that no assurance of the timeframes indicated can be provided.

Activity Time frames Comments
1 To go through CYF courses, prepare a detailed Personal Profile and have a Home Study Report prepared depends on the social worker’s workload, course availability dates, timely information provided to CYF, etc. Allow 5-8 months
2 Complete Compassion for Orphans Education and Preparation and other processes. 1-2 months
3 From the time of sending the application to Chile, receiving and accepting a matching proposal.

Current wait times from the date of registration on Sename’s database are:

3.1 For sibling groups and children aged 7-9 years of age: Est 12-24 months

3.2 Children 5 to 6 years of age – 2 years plus

4 Acceptance of matching proposal to travel to Chile 1-2 months
5 Travel to Chile, meet the child, attend tribunal hearings, complete the adoption Allow 3 weeks
6 Obtain child’s passport and visa to enter New Zealand Allow 4-6 weeks


Is there any support available?

The process of adopting a child from an overseas country can be challenging. Formal supports and information are available to you throughout the process.

You should also have informal personal supports in place. You may go through periods where you experience unexpected delays or administrative complications and this can be difficult to manage. It is also important to share the joys experienced in the process of adopting a child.

For details of our Pre-Adoption Education, Pre-Adoption Support and Post-Adoption Support Services, click here.

What if the family experiences problems?

The early stages of a child's placement bring much joy. Sometimes there may be problems and difficulties. Family members need to make adjustments as the child learns to cope with a new family, new climate, new culture and new language. It is important the child adjusts at his or her own pace. Issues may return at different stages and the child may have certain needs as they grow and develop their own identity and place in the world. It is important to seek the help of personal and/or professional supports if difficulties arise. You are welcome to contact us for support and advice at any time.

For details of our Pre-Adoption Education, Pre-Adoption Support and Post-Adoption Support Services, click here.