How to Adopt a Child in Singapore
Looking to adopt a child in Singapore? While adopting a child is an exciting and fulfilling experience, there are many things you need to be aware of.
There are multiple steps involved in the adoption process, from your eligibility and obtaining consent from birth parents to the documents you need to submit.
Here are the steps to adopting a child who is either a Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident:
Check your eligibility to adopt a Singaporean or permanent resident child
To be able to adopt a Singaporean or Permanent Resident child, you and your spouse need to meet certain criteria, including:
Singapore citizens, permanent residents, holders of Dependant's Pass or Employment Pass, or other types of residents recognized by Singapore courts can adopt a Singaporean child. Non-Singapore citizens will need to submit a Letter of Support endorsed by their home country to adopt a child in Singapore.
Non-Singapore citizens who wish to adopt a child in Singapore have to apply for a Letter of Approval to commence their Home Study Assessment.
The adopting parents must be 25 years old at a minimum and have a 21-year age gap (or more) with the child they want to adopt. The court may allow adoption if the child is related by blood in the case where:
- the adopting parent/parents' age is less than 25 years; or
- the age gap is below 21 years.
The maximum age gap between the adopting couple and the child is set at 50 years.
Age of the child
The child you intend to adopt must not be more than 21 years old and should not have been married.
A single male cannot adopt a female child unless special circumstances justify the adoption e.g. if you are the biological father. If you want to adopt alone and are married, you will need to get your spouse’s consent to adopt together, as Singapore laws do not currently allow a single spouse to adopt a child.
Before you adopt the child, consent from the natural parents, legal guardian, foster parents of the child or a person who has custody (as the case may be) is required. Dispensation of consent may be obtained if either of the natural parents is unknown or cannot be found.
You are responsible for protecting the child's welfare and providing education to your adopted child till the child is independent. This entails that you have the financial and physical means to support your child.
Attend the mandatory pre-adoption briefing
Before you identify the child you want to adopt or start the process of adoption, it is mandatory to attend the pre-adoption briefing.
This is a 2.5-hour session conducted by MSF (Ministry of Social and Family Welfare) appointed accredited agencies.
In this session, the following topics will be addressed:
- the adoption process
- your eligibility to adopt
- your responsibilities and rights as adoptive parents
- an adopted child's needs
- ways to get support in the parenting journey
Obtain the Letter of Approval (for non-Singapore citizens)
Non-Singapore citizens looking to adopt a child in Singapore need to obtain a Letter of Approval from their home country's High Commission or Embassy before the Home Study Assessment can begin.
The letter needs to indicate if:
- the requirements of adoption are met in their home country;
- the home country recognizes the adoption in Singapore; and
- the home country will grant a permanent stay for the adopted child.
If the adopting parents have different nationalities and jointly apply for adoption, they will need to obtain a separate LOS from their respective home countries.
Identify the child to adopt
You can find a child for adoption on your own through your friends, relatives, or other contacts. You will have to obtain notarized consent from the child's parents or guardians and ensure that there is no contravention of laws of relevant countries.
You can also adopt a child through MSF after completing your Home Study Assessment.
Obtain consent and documents
As stated above, you will need notarized consent of the child’s parents, guardian or the one who has custody of the child (as the case may be).
If you are not able to get the relevant persons' consent, you will need to apply to the court to dispense with their consent. You will need to provide an affidavit stating that all efforts were made to find the birth parents of the child.
Importantly, you will need to obtain genuine identification documents of the child, including his/her birth certificate and passport.
Submit the application
It is best to engage a family law expert in Singapore to submit an application for adoption to the Family Court. The court will then instruct your lawyer to obtain consent from the MSF to act as the GIA or Guardian-In-Adoption during the process.
The GIA then appoints a Child Welfare Officer to interview you regarding the child's status and your family circumstances. The MSF prepares and sends its findings to your lawyer, after which you need to apply for a case hearing date.
If your application is accepted, the Family Court issues the Adoption Order, after which a new Birth Certificate is issued for the child.