Everything You Need To Know About Child Adoption In Singapore
Are you considering to adopt a child in Singapore? No doubt – just imagining it can be overwhelming. It’s definitely not a simple decision you can think about overnight.
I mean we’re talking about this special way of creating or adding to your family. Just the thought of it fills you with excitement.
Legal Process Under Adoption Of Children Act (ACA)
Despite the way it sounds, adoption is no simple process. It is in fact a legal process that has to be administered by the Adoption of Children Act (ACA).
The act of adoption in basically cutting of the ties between a child’s biological parents and fostering a new legal parent-child relationship between a new set of parents.
This entire procedure can only be done through a court order which is to ensure that the relationship of a child’s new parents is proper and that it comes with the same responsibilities as their biological parents.
These responsibilities, to name a few are:
- ensuring the needs of the child are financially met and that necessary maintenance are provided,
- to care for the child and provide them with a loving and nurturing home to live in,
- for the child to receive proper education,
- being responsible to make important decisions for the child such as education and religious beliefs,
- be an active role model to positively encourage good values and being there for them emotionally.
We’ve all made bold decisions before but nothing nearly shows it as much as adopting a child. Don’t get me wrong though, adoption is a wonderful moment that will change both you and a lucky little child’s life.
However, it also means that you’ll have to take on all the challenges and responsibilities that comes with becoming a parent. Before that though, you might want to have a look at their basic requirements to be eligible to adopt a child.
What Are The Requirements To Adopt A Child?
First, let’s have a look at the legal requirements for both an applicant and the adopted child.
- A child that is going to be adopted has to be under 21 years of age.
- The child has to be a Singapore Citizen or a Permanent Resident or have a Dependent’s pass.
- The applicant has to be at least 21 years old.
- The applicant has to be at least 21 years older than the child and not more than fifty years of age.
In summary, the age requirements have been put in place because there’s no need to adopt someone who is already an adult and second, it’s to ensure that there is a there’s enough of an age gap for a healthy parent and child relationship.
It’s also to make sure that the parent has the physical and financial means of looking after the child.
If you still wish to adopt a child while not meeting the age requirements, it doesn’t totally mean you can’t adopt a child. Special situations such as adopting a child within blood relatives may still be allowed.
This, of course comes with reasoning to Court that it’s with the best interest of the child.
Circumstances That Doesn’t Allow You To Adopt
Other things to take note of are;
- If you are a male and unmarried, you are not allowed to adopt a female child, unless there is proof that you are related to one another.
- If you and your significant other wish to apply for an adoption, a joint application has to be applied and both parties have to be spouses. Two singles are not allowed to adopt the same child.
- Homosexual couples are also not allowed to adopt a child because same sex marriage has not been legalised in Singapore.
With that said, before committing to your decision, you and your significant other should be honest with each other and properly discuss each other’s needs and do the necessary research first.
Here are some things to help you consider when thinking of applying for an adoption;
1 – Child’s Welfare
Are you ready to be accountable for the child’s needs and wants? The Court will take into account these factors and the Judge would have the choice to decide if the necessary requirements have been met.
Whether or not the adoption will be in the best interest of the child and if they are capable of looking after them holistically. They will also assess the child’s needs and wants while taking note of their level of understanding, age and maturity.
2 – Financial Stability
Are you able to support the child financially? The welfare of the child includes daily necessities like food and water, clothings and education. These are basic expenses that you will need to provide. If you cannot support them financially then it would not be advisable for you to adopt a child.
3 – Condusive Environment To Live In
While being financially stable may boost the odds of your adoption application, that isn’t the only factor that the Court will consider. A loving and caring environment for the child to grow up is just as important.
Otherwise is would seem to not be in the best interest of the child and the Court may unlikely approve your application.
Lastly, before completing the application for adoption, the consent from the child’s parent, guardian or person who has custody of the child or of the person that is contributing to the child’s welfare and support, is required.
The consent has to be well understood and that by giving consent they are to know that they are renouncing their rights over the child and it will be given to the new adoptive parents.
They also have to sign and acknowledge the legal documents which inform them the effects of consenting to the adoption.
If they, however decide not to allow their child to be adopted and if they are found to be incapable of looking after their child holistically, the Court may decide to omit their consent and proceed with the adoption as well.
This is with consideration of the biological parents’ physical and mental capabilities to look after the child.
If it is with best interest that the child should be adopted and that the biological parents still disallow consent, it would be as good as denying the child of their rights, and the Court may then omit the consent of the parents.
The exchange of money is also not allowed with regards to the adoption because this may be mistaken as child trafficking.
How Long Will Adoption Application Take?
In order to ensure that the relevant requirements are met, and based on the various factors, the adoption process is a case by case basis that may take some time depending on the situations.
Thus, an adoption will normally take about five to seven months before being finalised.
Factors such as whether the child is a citizen or not, will determine how long the entire process will take. If the child is a citizen, the process will be as such:
- Applicants will need to attend a compulsory pre-adoption briefing to have a better understanding of the adoption process and also the roles and responsibilities of being a parent.
- Sourcing for a potential child from adoption agencies or through the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
- Followed by obtaining the necessary identification documents of the child. An itemized breakdown of any cost incurred in obtaining the child may also be required.
- Thereafter, submission of an application to the family court will be followed and interviews from a Child Welfare Officer will be carried out in order to better assess the suitability of an applicant.
- Subsequently, adoption will be authorized or rejected by the judge based on the findings from the Child Welfare Officer.
- If adoption has been authorized and application is successful, the court will inform the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority to prepare a new birth certificate for the child.
- Applicants may also wish to execute a deed poll to change the child’s name.
The process of adoption for a foreign child however are just the same but with these additional points:
- Apply for a Home Study Report to gauge a family’s readiness for adopting and raising a new child into the family. The average cost for a Home Study Report is approximately $1,500 and the duration process is around one year.
- Sourcing for a potential child from a foreign agency followed by applying for the child a Dependent Pass. When collecting the Dependent Pass, a security deposit of $1,000 to $2,000 maybe asked.
If application is successful, the Court will similarly inform the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority to prepare a new birth certificate where you can subsequently apply for a citizenship for the child.
With regards to the applications, there are 5 general outcomes that the judge will issue. This will be determined by the merit of the application.
1 – No Adoption Order Granted.
This is normally due to not meeting the requirements or fulfilling the criteria(s) stated. However, you may still re-apply for an adoption application if you are able to convince the court of the major changes to your application.
2 – Adjourning Proceedings
The next outcome is adjourning proceedings to allow plaintiff to build a better case. It is not a total rejection of an application, but instead an indicator that the court is willing to give the application a serious thought.
It is likely that certain requirements have still not been met. Therefore, the court postpones the proceedings to provide you with more time to build a stronger case for an adoption.
3 – Interim Order
If you are given an interim order, you would have custody over the child for a maximum of 2 years. This serves as a probation period for the court to monitor your quality of upbringing before deciding to authorise the adoption.
There are currently no reported cases where the court has made an interim order. An interim order would not be an ideal outcome for many applicants since it does not guarantee that you will be the adoptive parent of the child.
4 – Conditional Order
Conditional order is whereby the court could also grant an adoption order, subject to certain conditions. The court is given a wide discretion in stipulating the various terms and conditions as it deems fit.
The conditions imposed would vary on a case to case basis and will be subjective to each respective application. Once again, there are no reported cases of the court granting orders with special conditions.
5 – Unconditional Order
This is the most common and also the most ideal outcome. Once this order has been made out, the relationship between the birth parent and child will be irrevocably cut off.
In turn, you will be legally acknowledged as the parent of the child, and will be bestowed with the responsibilities of any biological parent towards their child.
Once an adoption order has been processed and granted, the court will not authorise you to “undo” an adoption.
For example, after having gaining the legal rights over the child, you discover that it becomes inconvenient and decide that raising the child would become difficult, you cannot apply for a rescission of an order.
Adoption is not meant to be treated lightly and thus, you should carefully consider the responsibilities and potential challenges before going ahead with the application.
It is common to be reluctant and perceive adoption as rather daunting given the number of requirements and the lengthy adoption process. However, adoption law in Singapore has been crafted in a way to prioritise the child’s welfare.
The focus is to ensure that the child grows up in a loving and healthy environment.
Therefore, the stipulations and conditions imposed serve to act as a safeguard for the adoptive child. When viewed in context, we hope that you realise that the gift of parenthood is worth a little effort and patience.
All children deserve the opportunity to develop social skills, gain confidence and develop lasting values that will serve them as adults. If you’re considering adoption and whether it’s right for you, we encourage you to contact us.
Our experienced lawyers know exactly how to help you with regards to adopting a child. Drop us a direct message or comment below if you have more questions.
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