If you’re seriously considering adopting a child, here’s some essential information to help your family begin the adoption process.
If you’re thinking of adopting a child, there is a step-by-step process overseen by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). This article will take you through what’s required to adopt a child in Singapore and the costs involved, so you’ll know what’s ahead and can feel confident about your decision.
How does adoption work in Singapore?
Adoption is the process of becoming the legal parent of a child. In Singapore, adoption is regulated by the Adoption of Children Act (ACA), and the Family Court grants the Adoption Order. When you adopt a child, they become your legal family, and are entitled to all the rights and benefits that come with that status.
You can adopt a child who is a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident, or who is foreign — depending on their nationality, slightly different procedures would apply.
Whose consent must be obtained for adopting a child?
Before adopting a child, you will need to obtain consent to the adoption from the child’s parents or, if that is not possible, any of the following:
- The child’s guardian
- The person who has custody of the child
- The person who has a duty to support the child
- Parents or guardian of child’s biological parent, if biological parent is below 21 years old
Who can adopt?
In order to adopt, you will need to meet the following criteria:
- A resident in Singapore
- Aged 25 or older
- At least 21 years older than the child
- If you are under 25 and/or less than 21 years older than the child, the adoption may still be granted if you are related to the child by blood, or there are special circumstances to justify the adoption
- Should not be more than 50 years older than the child
- If you are a single male, you will not be allowed to adopt a girl unless there are special circumstances to justify the adoption
Adoption of a stepchild
The steps for adopting a stepchild depend on their citizenship. If they're Singaporean or a permanent resident, then the procedures for adopting a local child apply.
However, if the stepchild is of a foreign nationality, the procedures for adopting a foreign child will apply. There are additional criteria and processes to fulfil if your stepchild is from the People’s Republic of China.
Steps in the adoption process
Before applying to the Family Court for adoption
1. Attend the Pre-Adoption Briefing
Those who want to adopt in Singapore need to attend a compulsory Pre-Adoption Briefing, which guides potential adopters through such points as the rights and responsibilities of adoptive parents, and understanding the needs of an adopted child.
2. Apply for Letter of Approval from MSF (for non-Singapore Citizens) / Home Study Report
Non-Singapore citizens who want to adopt a child in Singapore need an approval letter from MSF. In order to apply for this Letter of Approval, they would require a Letter of Support from their home country’s embassy or high commission which indicates that the adopters meet the requirements of adoption under the laws of their home country, the adoption in Singapore will be recognised by the home country, and the adopted child will be granted permanent residence in the home country.
MSF’s Letter of Approval will then allow for the necessary Home Study Assessment to take place.
Even if you are a Singapore Citizen, should you be seeking to adopt a child under State Care or a non-Singapore Citizen child, you will need to apply for a Home Study Report to be done.
3. Identify a child to adopt
You can look for a child through a few possible means:
Your own contact
You can seek out a child who is a Singapore Citizen or of a foreign nationality through your own contacts. This could be through relatives or friends or other parties. The source must be legal and the child must be transferred to you in a proper manner that doesn’t break the laws of any country. Ensure you obtain the notarised consent of the child’s parent/guardian or of the relevant persons, as mentioned earlier.
MSF places out children under State Care who are considered suitable for adoption.
4. Obtain all identification documents of the child
Gather the child’s identification documents and make sure they are genuine. Such documents include the child’s Birth Certificate and the child’s passport.
5. Prepare itemised breakdown of any costs involved in obtaining the child
The ACA doesn’t allow adopters to receive any payment or reward for carrying out the adoption, except those allowed by the Family Court. The court also requires a breakdown of any costs incurred when the child was transferred, such as payment to the agency through which the child was found.
Applying to the Family Court for adoption
6. Submit an application to the Family Court
You can submit this in person or through a lawyer, which will then kickstart the court’s process.
7. Attend interviews with MSF
These interviews will allow MSF to find out more about your family and the child’s status and circumstances. The Child Welfare Officer appointed may also visit your home. MSF will then prepare the affidavit – the assessment of the adoption application.
8. Apply for and attend case hearing
MSF will send the affidavit to you or your lawyer, which you are to submit to the Family Court within two weeks. You will also need to apply for a date of hearing, which you or your lawyer has to be present for.
Possible outcomes of the child adoption application
Based on your application and the court’s discretion, your application to adopt a child may result in one of the following outcomes:
Unconditional adoption order
Unconditional adoption is the most ideal outcome for adopters who want their application to succeed without any additional conditions set out by the court. The relationship between your adopted child and their birth parents will legally end, and you’ll become the child’s legal parent.
Conditional adoption order
The court approves the adoption with certain conditions – these vary case by case.
The court postpones the making of an adoption order and instead issues an interim one, which will give applicants temporary custody for two years. This functions as a probationary period.
The court may temporarily put the case on hold to obtain further information about your adoption application.
No adoption order granted
The court could reject your application if you fail to meet all the criteria.
Costs involved in adoption
The costs involved in adoption are largely influenced by whether or not you’ll need to go through an agent to find a child. The agent’s fee can go up to around S$30,000.
Besides that, these are the other costs that could be incurred during the adoption process:
- Home Study Report: S$2,000
- Application of Dependent’s Pass (for non-Singapore Citizens): S$360
- Sending Adoption Order to Immigration & Checkpoints Authority for Singapore Birth Certificate: S$18
- Application for Singapore Citizenship (for non-Singapore Citizens): S$100
- Citizenship Certificate: S$70
- Miscellaneous fees (e.g., for nanny, flights): S$500
Adopting a child can be rewarding, and well worth the effort and expenses that you put in. Should you be keen to do so, take the first step by attending the Pre-Adoption Briefing.
Adopting a child may require large payments, especially if you go through an agent. Find a financing plan that suits your needs and supports your dream through our comparison of the best personal loans.
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