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Child, Youth And Family Grants ICANZ Accreditation

Media Release
23 July 2003

Child, Youth And Family Grants Icanz Accreditation

The Department of Child, Youth and Family Services has granted Inter-Country Adoption New Zealand (ICANZ) accreditation to act as an agency for inter-country adoption.

A Memorandum of Understanding will formalise the Department’s ongoing relationship with ICANZ and ensure ongoing reviews of processes and documentation.

The accreditation is made under the Adoption (Inter-Country) Act 1997 which came into effect in January 1999. The Act is New Zealand’s formal legislative accession to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption.

Chief Executive Jackie Pivac said that after careful assessment the Department found ICANZ met the criteria of the Act and is a capable and efficient organisation in the field of inter-country adoption. “We believe it will operate in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights when carrying out the tasks delegated under the Convention.”

In considering the application two areas of particular focus were ICANZ’s financial practices and its ability to operate in a manner compliant with the Hague Convention.

“The department believes it is in the best interests of the children that inter-country adoption is professionally managed and well monitored. We believe ICANZ is in a position to do that. Over the past decade it has assisted with adoptions of some 600 children, mainly from Russia, and has provided support and advice to parents who wish to adopt, or have already adopted children from other countries.”

Fact Sheet

New Zealand acceded to the Hague Convention by enacting the Adoption (Inter-Country) Act 1997 which came into force in January 1999. The Act gives powers to the Chief Executive of Child, Youth and Family to act as the New Zealand Central Authority. The designated Central Authority ensures best practice principles in accordance with the Convention.

CYF has a record of inter-country adoption enquiries regarding children from 82 countries. CYF now has a “best-practice” relationship with six countries – Hong Kong, Thailand, Fiji, China, India and the Republic of the Philippines. Currently the Philippines is the only one of these six to have ratified the Hague Convention and with whom there is a direct Central Authority to Central Authority relationship. India has recently ratified the Convention and can expect to gain status as a Hague Convention country in the next three to six months.

The Hague Convention put in place the convention on the protection of children and co-operation in respect of inter-country adoption. It is based on the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child (UNCROC).

The Hague Convention sets standards for inter-country adoption to allow adoption among party countries, protect the interests of the child, birth parents and adoptive parents, and prevent illegal trafficking.

The standards require safeguards to ensure inter-country adoption takes place in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights as recognised in international law. They require a system of cooperation among contracting states to ensure those safeguards are respected and adoptions are done in accordance with the convention.

The Hague Convention’s hierarchy of care options say:
- Family solutions (return to the birth family, foster care, guardianship, adoption) are preferable to institutional placement
- Permanent solutions (return to the birth family, guardianship, adoption) are preferable to provisional ones (institutional placement, foster care)
- National solutions (return to the birth family, national guardianship, national adoption) are preferable to international ones (inter-country adoption)

Inter-country adoption supports the principle that children have a right to a stable, long term family life and that this is preferable to temporary solutions such as institutional care. However it should only be considered after national options have been pursued.

Accreditation of agencies to perform adoption functions is part of the Convention.

The following functions are being delegated to ICANZ under the Adoption (Inter-Country) Regulations 1998:
- Collection, preserving and exchanging information about the situation of the child and the prospective adoptive parents, so far as is necessary to complete the adoption
- Facilitating, following and expediting proceedings with a view to obtaining the adoption
- Promoting the development of adoption counselling and post-adoption services in New Zealand
- Providing general evaluation reports about experience with inter-country adoption
- Replying, in so far as is permitted by the law of New Zealand, to justified requests from other Central Authorities or public authorities for information about a particular adoption situation.
- Taking all necessary steps to obtain permission for the child to leave their country of origin and to enter and reside permanently in New Zealand
- Ensuring that transfers take place in secure and appropriate circumstances and, if possible in the company of the adoptive or prospective adoptive parents
- If the transfer of the child does not take place, the sending back of the reports referred to in Articles 15 and 16 to the authorities who forwarded them:
- Keeping Central Authorities informed about the adoption process and the measures taken to complete it, as well as about the progress of the placement if a probationary period is required.


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