Intended parents in New Zealand are currently subject to the country’s Adoption Act, passed into law some 64 years ago. Under that antiquated law, parents who add to their families cannot be listed on their children’s birth certificates and must formally adopt the children before being recognized as their parents. Unbelievably, current law also favors the surrogate or gestational carrier, giving the birth mother the right to change her mind and claim parentage – even if she has no biological ties to the child in question.
Current law also requires all parties to undergo counseling and obtain ethics approval from the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology. In addition, New Zealand’s Ministry of Children (also called Oranga Tamariki) is given the power of determining whether or not the intended parents are fit to have children.
A gay couple whose son was conceived through surrogacy are fighting to overhaul the law so other intended parents don’t have to fight the same battle they did. A petition started by one of the new fathers, Christian Newman, demands that the government of New Zealand make changes to the adoption process, making it clearer and more understandable.
The petition also asks for updates to remove the adoption requirement for children born through surrogacy arrangements and calls for naming intended parents on such children’s birth certificates from the start. Newman’s petition further seeks to limit the power of the Ministry of Children, which today has authority to grant or deny parental authority to intended parents.
Newman recently had the opportunity to address New Zealand’s parliament to make his case. It isn’t clear yet what the outcome of Newman’s efforts will be, but this is a case assisted reproduction advocates around the world will likely be watching.
If you are considering starting or adding to your family through surrogacy, we can help. Contact our office today to learn more.