Adoption refers to the permanent transfer of all parental rights and responsibilities from a child’s birth parents to his/her adoptive parents. In Singapore, adoption is governed by the Adoption of Children Act.
ADOPTION OF CHILD IN SINGAPORE
Adoption refers to the permanent transfer of all parental rights and responsibilities from a child’s birth parents to his/her adoptive parents. In Singapore, adoption is governed by the Adoption of Children Act (“ACA”).
The Law on Child Adoption in Singapore
The first step towards adopting a child is to determine whether one meets the eligibility requirements for doing so. If you are looking to adopt a child in Singapore, the eligibility requirements for adoption are stated below.
Only Residents of Singapore can Apply to Adopt
You and your spouse must be residents in Singapore to adopt (that is, you must be Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents, or holders of Employment Pass, Dependant’s Pass or any other Pass which the Family Court deems as residents in Singapore).
You and your spouse must be at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child to be adopted.
This rule may be waived if you or your spouse and the child are related by blood, or if there are other special circumstances. For example, the court may allow the adoption if your nephews and nieces are tragically orphaned and you wish to adopt them even though you are not yet 25 years old and you are not at least 21 years older than them.
The maximum age gap between you and child
Both you and your spouse should not be more than 50 years older than the child. This is to ensure that you are physically and financially able to look after the child.
Your marital status
If you are a single male, you will not be allowed to adopt a girl, unless there are special circumstances to justify the adoption. If you are married, you must obtain the consent of your spouse.
Home Study Report
Before the adoption is approved, you must apply for a Home Study Report.
A Home Study Report (HSR) is a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the adoption and the circumstances of your family. It also assesses whether you and your spouse are eligible and ready to adopt a child. A Home Study is conducted by professional social service staff from voluntary welfare organisations accredited by MSF.
You and your spouse must attend a compulsory Pre-Adoption Briefing (PAB) before you apply for a home study or start the adoption legal proceedings.
Endorsement from your home country (for non-Singapore Citizens who would like to adopt a foreign child)
If you are not a Singapore citizen, you must obtain endorsement from your home country through your embassy or High Commission. Your country must support and recognise the adoption. There is a prescribed form in the ACA for you to show that you have obtained the support from your home country.
Additional important information
Payment to the child’s natural parents for the adoption is not allowed except for childbirth expenses.
You must also get consent from the following parties:
- 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
- Your spouse (if applicable).
How the court decides
If the above conditions are met, the Court may grant an adoption order. 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).
What is the adoption legal process?
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, as well as 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 the adoption of 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 interests of the child during the adoption process. The GIA will, in turn, appoint a Child Welfare Officer (“CWO”) from MSF to conduct interviews with the prospective adoptive parents, as well as visit the prospective home, to determine if the applicants are suitable to adopt a child.
Upon completion of 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 to be granted.
ABOUT PKWA FAMILY LAW
If you have any enquiry on adoption in Singapore, kindly contact us using the form below or call us. At PKWA Law, our team of experienced Family Lawyers can assist you on adoption matters in Singapore.
Contact us at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation.