Child Adoption Lawyers
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When an adoption order is passed by the court, the child’s legal ties with the biological parents will be severed and all the rights, duties, obligations and liabilities shall vest in the adoptive parents. This is pursuant to section 7(1) of the Adoption of Children Act.
Introduction to adoption
The first step towards adopting a child is to determine whether one meets the eligibility requirements. The eligibility requirements for adoption are:
- The child must be below 21 years old and single;
- The applicant must be at least 25 years old; and
- The applicant must be at least 21 years older (but not more than 50 years older) than the child.
In addition, solitary male applicants are prohibited from adopting female children, and only married couples are allowed to jointly adopt children.
Notwithstanding the above, section 4(2) of the ACA confers upon the Court the power to make exceptions to the general rule where the child and the applicant are blood relatives, as well as in cases where both parties to the marriage are at least 25 years old, and they are trying to jointly adopt a child whose age is less than 21 years below their respective ages.
The Court will also look to whether consent has been received from all relevant parties to the adoption. In this regard, the relevant parties include:
- The child’s parents;
- The child’s grandparents (where the child’s parents are below 21 years old);
- The child’s guardian (if applicable);
- The child’s custodian (in cases where custody of the child has been granted to a non-parent);
- The party responsible for supporting the child financially (in cases where this does not automatically apply to the child’s parents); and
- The applicant’s spouse (if applicable).
Adoption orders may be unconditional, conditional (where the court sets differing conditions on a case-to-case basis), or interim (where the applicant is essentially placed on probation and the Court is free to give directions as to how the child should be raised).
Who can be adopted
The child to be adopted must be below 21 years of age.
You can also adopt your stepchild. You can apply to MSF to waive the Home Study Report (HSR) if you are a Singapore Citizen. This is not applicable for foreigners adopting their stepchildren.
If your stepchild is a Singapore Citizen, the process is the same as adopting a child who is a Singapore Citizen.
If your stepchild is of foreign citizenship, the process will follow that of adopting a foreign child.
The child must be a resident of Singapore (i.e. a Singapore Citizen, Singapore Permanent Resident or Dependant’s Pass holder). A child is not regarded as a resident if the child is residing in Singapore on a visit pass, a student’s pass or a special pass.
The adoption process begins with the applicant attending a compulsory Pre-Adoption Briefing (“PAB”). The PAB is a one-off 2½ hour session aimed at explaining to the applicant everything that he/she ought to know about the process of adoption and how to handle being an adoptive parent.
Next, the applicant must identify the child that he/she wishes to adopt and obtain notarised consent for the adoption from the individuals listed above. If for any reason (other than by way of choice) consent cannot be given, then under these special circumstances the applicant may apply to Court to have this requirement dispensed with.
At the same time, the applicant must obtain official documentation of the child’s birth certificate or passport (for PRs), and prepare an itemised list of costs incurred in adopting the child. The purpose of the latter requirement is to ensure that money has not been paid to the child’s birth parents in return for their consent to the adoption.
Having completed the above steps, the applicant may then submit an adoption application to the Family Court, either in-person or through a lawyer, to which the Court will then direct the applicant to file a request at the Ministry of Social and Family Development (“MSF”) containing the following documents:
- Date of Pre-Adoption Briefing;
- Originating summons for adoption;
- Adoption Statement;
- Affidavit in support of the originating summons;
- Consent for adoption by natural parents;
- The NRICs of the prospective adoptive parents (both front and back)
- The marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parents;
- The birth certificate of the child to be adopted; and
- A cheque of $250.00 to be made payable to “AG/MSF”.
If the application is successful, the Court will appoint a Guardian-In-Adoption (“GIA”) to safeguard the child’s interests during the adoption process. In turn, the GIA will appoint a Child Welfare Officer (“CWO”) from MSF to conduct interviews with the prospective adoptive parents and visit the prospective home to determine if the applicants are suitable to adopt a child.
Upon completing the investigation, MSF will then prepare an affidavit (based on its findings) to be submitted to Court by either the applicants or their lawyers within two weeks. At that point, a hearing date must be booked. At the hearing, which requires either the applicants or their lawyers to be present, the Court will decide if the adoption order is granted.
It takes on average about 4 to 6 months for the matter to be concluded.
Once the adoption application is approved – Congratulations! You are now the proud parent of your adopted child.
Once the Family Court grants the Adoption Order, the Family Court will inform the Registry of Births & Deaths, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for the issuance of a new Birth Certificate for the child. You or your lawyer will receive a letter from ICA to collect the Birth Certificate.
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