The Adoption of Children Act (Cap. 4, 2012 Rev. Ed.) governs the adoption of infants in Singapore. This is a legal process where parental rights over a child are conferred to the applicants, whom one or both are not the natural parents of the child.
The Court will appoint a Guardian in Adoption (GIA) for the child, whose role is to safeguard the child’s legal interest before the Court. The GIA will investigate the circumstances of the adoption and report to the Court.
The Court would only grant an adoption order after it is satisfied that the requirements of the Adoption of Children Act (Cap 4) have been complied with and that it is in the best interests of the child to be adopted.
Effect of Consenting Child to be Adopted
One of the requirements before an adoption order can be made is that the consent of the natural parent is given in the prescribed form. By signing the prescribed form, you would be stating under oath that you understand the nature and effect of an adoption order; in particular, you will be deprived of your parental rights to the child.
All your rights, duties, obligations and liabilities to the child are extinguished. Once the adoption order is made, the parental ties between you and the child are severed and you will not be able to see your child.
Duties/Responsibilities of Person Adopting
Once the adoption order is made, you take on all parental rights, duties, obligations and liabilities in relation to the child: e.g. you will have to maintain the child and look after his physical, mental and social well-being.
You will have the right to make decisions in relation to the child: e.g. education, religion and medical treatment.
Criteria for Adoption (Summary)
You and your spouse must be residents in Singapore to adopt, i.e. 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.This is in accordance with Section 4(6) of the Adoption of Child Act (ACA).
You and your spouse must be at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child to be adopted. If you or your spouse is under 25 years old and/or less than 21 years older than the child, the adoption may be allowed if you or your spouse and the child are related by blood, or if there are other special circumstances justifying the adoption.This is in accordance with Section 4(2) a(i)(ii) of the ACA.
Maximum Age Gap Between Adopter and Child
Both you and your spouse should not be more than 50 years older than the child. As an adoptive parent, you are responsible for providing education and protecting the welfare of your adopted child until he or she is independent.You must ensure that you have the physical and financial means to see the child through this journey.
If you are a single male, you are not allowed to adopt a girl, unless there are special circumstances to justify the adoption. This is in accordance with Section 4(3) of the ACA. If you are married and intend to adopt alone, you must obtain the consent of your spouse. This is in accordance with Section 4(5) of the ACA.
Home Study Report
If you wish to adopt a foreign child, a child from MSF or Project Cherub, you are required to apply for a Home Study Report.
You and your spouse should attend a compulsory Pre-Adoption Briefing (PAB) before you apply for a home study or begin the legal proceedings on adoption.For more information, refer to Pre-Adoption Briefing.
Endorsement from Your Home Country (for non-Singapore Citizens who would like to adopt a foreign child)
You must obtain endorsement from your home country through your embassy or High Commission. Your country must support and recognise the adoption. You will need to submit a letter of support, duly completed and endorsed by the relevant authority of your country before commencing home study in Singapore.
Adoption of a Second and Subsequent Child
Before you consider adopting another child, you are strongly encouraged to make sure that your first adopted child has adjusted and bonded well with your family and the environment.
Introducing another new member to your family too soon can cause confusion and uncertainty for your child. You may also have to deal with sibling rivalry issues. You will be required to do a second home study report on your current circumstances. The report assesses how ready you are to parent another child and will take into account the welfare of your first adopted child, parent-child bonding and your current family circumstances.
You may have to wait for at least nine months from the date you adopted your first child (as indicated in the Adoption Order) before you can register for the second report.