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Adoption

Our adoption lawyers handle many child and baby adoption process for hopeful parents each year.

Introduction

Adopting a child can be a highly rewarding, enriching and fulfilling experience.  It also involves a lot of responsibilities and is a long term commitment.  Careful thought should be given before adopting a child.

Legal Implications

The main legal implications are set out in the Adoption of Children Act, Chapter 4.  In particular, once the court makes an adoption order, the child’s legal ties with its biological parents will be severed and the adoptive parents will take over all rights, obligations and responsibilities in the care and education of the child. 

For example, the adoptive parents will have the duty to maintain the child and look after his or her physical, mental and social well-being.  The adoptive parents will also have the right to make decisions regarding the child, such as his or her education, religion or medical treatment.

Adoption Requirements (for the child)

Child’s age
The child must be below 21 years of age.

Residency Status
The child must be a resident of Singapore, that is, he (or she) must be a Singapore Citizen, Singapore Permanent Resident or Dependant's Pass holder. Please note that 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.

Adoption General Requirements (for those wishing to adopt a child that is not from China)

Residency Status
You and your spouse must be resident in Singapore, that is, both of you must be Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents, or holders of Employment Pass, or Dependant’s Pass (or any other Pass which the Family Court accepts as proving that both of you are resident in Singapore).

Age
You and your spouse must be at least 25 years old and also at least 21 years older than the child to be adopted. If you or your spouse do not satisfy either or both requirements, the court may still allow the adoption if you or your spouse and the child are related by blood, or if there are other special circumstances.
Both you and your spouse should not be more than 50 years older than the child.

Marital status
If you are unmarried and male, you cannot adopt a girl, unless there are special circumstances.
If you are married and intend to adopt on your own, you must first get your spouse’s consent.

STEPS to Adopting a Child

STEP 01 (A): Pre-adoption Briefing

Before identifying a child for adoption (or applying for a Home Study Report, or applying to court, or beginning the adoption process), you and your spouse must attend a Pre-Adoption Briefing. These briefings are regularly organized by the (Singapore) Ministry of Social and Family Development.  The briefing is compulsory and both you and your spouse should attend.  It is a 2.5 hour, one-off session and is conducted in English, Mandarin and Malay. The briefing will cover:

1.         the adoption process, including the eligibility criteria for adoption;

2.         your rights and responsibilities once you become an adoptive parent;

3.         the needs of an adopted child; and

4.         sources of support for you and your adopted child.

You may register for a Pre-adoption Briefing at:
https://app.adoption.gov.sg/RegisterWorkshopIntro.aspx

 

STEP 01 (B): Foreign Nationals

Please note that Singapore adoption orders made on or after 3 January 2014 will not be automatically recognized in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.  Because of this, at present, British nationals cannot adopt a child in Singapore.

For all other foreign nationals from the European Union, before identifying a child in Singapore or starting your adoption application, you must approach your home country’s embassy and get a completed and endorsed letter of support.  The template for this letter of support from EU countries (other than England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) can be found at:

http://app.msf.gov.sg/Portals/0/Files/RPD/Letter%20of%20support%20for%20EU%20Nationals%20%20(issued%20on%201%20Feb%2014).docx

For all other foreign nationals, before applying for the Home Study Report, you must go to your home country’s embassy (or High Commission) and get a completed and endorsed letter of support from them to show that your home country will support and recognize the adoption.  The template for this letter of support from countries (other than the European Union) can be found at:

http://app.msf.gov.sg/Portals/0/Files/RPD/Letter%20of%20support%20(issued%20on%201%20Feb%2013).docx

 

STEP 01 (C): Home Study Report

A Home Study Report is a comprehensive investigation into the background to the adoption and your family circumstances.  It includes an assessment as to whether you and your spouse are eligible and ready to adopt a child.  The report costs about $1,500.00 and is valid for two years.  Each report is valid for only one adoption.

Before identifying a child for adoption, or agreeing to adopt any child, you must apply for a Home Study Report.  In particular, if you wish to adopt a foreign-born child or a child through the (Singapore) Ministry of Social and Family Development, you must apply for a Home Study Report.

You can apply for a waiver of the Home Study Report if you are adopting your stepchild and you are a Singapore citizen and your stepchild is not from China.  To apply for this waiver, go to:
http://app.msf.gov.sg/Adoption/How-to-adopt-a-stepchild

You can apply for a home study report at this link:
https://app.adoption.gov.sg/ApplyForHomeStudy.aspx

 

STEP 02: Identify a Child for Adoption

You may identify a child for adoption on your own, through your relatives, relatives, acquaintances, or commercial entities, provided always that the source is legal and the transfer to you does not contravene the laws of any country.  If you need any help, please call us at 6.535.1800.

Please note that Singapore law (Adoption of Children Act, Chapter 4, Section 11) prohibits any payment or reward to the biological parents for the adoption of their child unless sanctioned by (that is, allowed or permitted by) the Singapore court.

 

STEP 03: Dependant’s Pass

As mentioned above (under Adoption Requirements (for the child), Residency Status):

The child must be a resident of Singapore, that is, he (or she) must be a Singapore Citizen, Singapore Permanent Resident or Dependant's Pass holder. Please note that 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.

In order for a foreign child to become a resident of Singapore and for him or her to enter and stay in Singapore during the adoption process, a Dependant’s Pass is required.  A favourable Home Study Report must accompany the application for Dependant’s Pass.  Please note that you have to pay a security deposit of $1,000 to $3,000 on the day you collect the Dependant’s Pass.

To apply for a Dependant's Pass for a foreign child, please go to:
http://app.msf.gov.sg/Adoption/Apply-for-Dependants-Pass

 

STEP 04: Get Child’s Parents’ Notarized Consent

You must get the child’s parents’ Notarized Consent.  If the parents are not available, you must get the Notarized Consent of the following persons:

1.         Natural parent(s) of child;

2.         Guardian of child;

3.         Person having actual custody of child;

4.         Person liable to contribute to the support of the infant; or

5.         Natural maternal and paternal grandparents of the child, where the natural parent(s) are below 21 years of age

If you cannot get the Notarized Consent of any of the above persons, you will have to apply to court for their consent to be dispensed with.  The court may do away with the requirement for Notarized Consent if there are special circumstances to justify this.

 

STEP 05: Get Child’s Identification Documents

You must get the child’s identification documents and ensure that they are genuine.  These documents include the child’s birth certificate and, if the child is a Singapore permanent resident, the child’s passport.

 

STEP 06: Prepare Itemized Breakdown of Costs (if any) in Obtaining the Child, Together with Original Receipts

You must prepare an itemized breakdown of the costs, if any, of obtaining the child, duly supported with original receipts.  Such costs may include payments to an adoption agency for services rendered, medical reports, or any other payments.

Please note that Singapore law (Adoption of Children Act, Chapter 4, Section 11) prohibits any payment or reward to the biological parents for the adoption of their child unless sanctioned by (that is, allowed by or permitted by) the Singapore court.

 

STEP 07: Apply to Court

You are allowed to apply to court in person or through a lawyer.  If you require our help, you can call us at 6.535.1800.

The court process usually takes about 5 to 7 months.  This does not include other processes such as applying for Dependant’s Pass (STEP 03) or Home Study Report (STEP 01 (C)), etc.

 

STEP 08: Appointment of Guardian-In-Adoption

Usually, the court will instruct you or your lawyer to get the consent of the (Singapore) Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Director of Social Welfare to act as the child’s Guardian-In-Adoption during the adoption process.  The Guardian-In-Adoption’s duty is to safeguard the child’s interests, to conduct the appropriate social investigations into the background to the adoption and submit an affidavit to court.  The Ministry will review the request for consent for its Director of Social Welfare to act as the child’s Guardian-In-Adoption.  If acceptable, the Ministry will issue the consent which will be submitted to court and the court will then make the appointment.

 

STEP 09: Appointment of Child Welfare Officer

The Guardian-In-Adoption will appoint a Child Welfare Officer.  This officer will conduct interviews about your family and the child’s situation and background.  This officer may require you to attend interviews at the Ministry’s office or other place and will also visit your home.  After investigations and interviews have been completed, the Ministry will prepare an affidavit of its findings.

 

STEP 10: Apply for Hearing Date

The Ministry will send the affidavit to you or your lawyer and notify the court.  Within 2 weeks, you or your lawyer must submit the affidavit to court and apply for a hearing date.

 

STEP 11: Hearing

You or your lawyer must be present for the court hearing.  The court will decide whether other parties such as the Child Welfare Officer or the child’s biological parents need to be present at the hearing.

 

STEP 12: Outcome

The court will decide whether or not to grant the Adoption Order. The court will grant the order if and only if all legal requirements have been satisfied and it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the applicant(s).

If the court grants the order, the court will notify the Registry of Births & Deaths and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority so that a new birth certificate can be issued for the child.  In due course, ICA will write to you or your lawyer to collect the original new birth certificate.

If the court refuses to grant the Adoption Order, you will have to return the child to the child’s family at your own cost.

Please note that under Singapore law, all adoption documents filed in court are confidential and the court’s written permission must first be obtained before such documents can be inspected.

 

Adoption of Second or Subsequent Child

Before adopting another child, you should ensure that your first adopted child has adapted to and integrated well with your family. Otherwise, this could cause confusion, distress, or anxiety, for the child and in the family.  This could also give rise to sibling rivalry issues.  You will have to obtain another Home Study Report. You are likely to have to wait nine months or more from the date of the earlier adoption order before you can register for the other Home Study Report.

Adoption, Additional Requirements (for those wishing to adopt a child from China)

Please refer to:
http://app.msf.gov.sg/Adoption/Criteria-for-adoption-of-a-PRC-child

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