Adoption in Thailand


Thailand's known as the land of smiles, elephants and Buddhism. Although it's one of the most developed countries in the region, it remains a fascinating blend of ancient cultures and traditions. Thais like to avoid anger and criticism and have a philosophical attitude towards life and the world. 

Who can adopt?
  • approved by the NZ Central Authority (NZCA)
  • couples must be married at least 2 years, with no more than one divorce per parent
  • single women accepted for older children or medically needy children only. Discuss this with ICANZ
  • both aged over 25 and under 50. The average age difference between adopting parents and child should not be more than 41 years at the time of adoption - older couples around 45 should apply for 4-6 year olds, those approaching 50 can be considered for children 8-10. This can be a little flexible for children with medical needs
  • healthy (no physical or mental health issues that might in any way impact on the child or parenting)
  • infertility or inability to have children by birth is required for those adopting the children under 3. This is not required for those applying for older children or children with medical needs
  • able and willing to have an at-home parent for at least one year. Children must not be placed in regular out-of-home day care during that first year
  • committed to residing in NZ for at least 2 years after bringing the child home, until the child has NZ citizenship

NOTE: In order to keep waiting times reasonable, ICANZ has a limit on the number of applications for children under 5. It is essential you complete the pre-registration process to put your name down for this programme in advance. We revise the limits frequently in the light of current placements and the number of waiting parents. 

Who can be adopted?

baby2We can help with adoptions of individual children or siblings from around 2 years to 10 or more years old. There are more boys than girls placed for adoption and applications to adopt a girl take longer. First time applicants for the youngest children cannot specify gender. There are also children with medical needs that need a loving home.

Many of the children were voluntarily relinquished by single birth parents at, or shortly after, birth, but each child's story is individual. As in most developing countries, some families in Thailand struggle with providing basic needs for their children. Poverty, difficult social circumstances and lack of opportunity conspire against families, often resulting in great need for some children.

Before a child is referred for international adoption, the authorities have confirmed that it is not possible to reunite the child with the birth family, an appropriate extended family member or a local Thai adoptive family.

Who's involved in the process?

Adoptions between New Zealand and Thailand are conducted according to the Hague Convention.  The Child Adoption Board of Thailand, which is the Central Authority for Adoption in Thailand, approves each adoption. At the New Zealand end, our own New Zealand Central Authority (NZCA) also approves each adoption.

For some adoptions ICANZ works with an accredited organisation called Friends For All Children Foundation, established in 1977.  Thai law prevents adoptive parents approaching FFAC directly to adopt. Adoptive parents must work through their partner accredited organisation in NZ, ie ICANZ. FFAC runs small child care centres in both Bangkok and in the north of Thailand, which provide a variety of services to local families. Aside from care and adoption planning for some children, FFAC also provides educational support, food and material aid and entertainment programs for local children. Children may also be cared for in smaller group homes or in foster homes.

Other children reside in a variety of larger government run children's homes throughout Thailand.

How do I adopt?

  • Pre-register with ICANZ on-line for detailed information, access to our Members-only page on this website. Pre-registration is required for applications for children under 5 for our Thai programme due to limited numbers.
  • Choose either AFS or MVCOT to provide education/assessment/homestudy services. 
  • Undergo assessment with AFS or MVCOT to gain approval from the NZCA to adopt. ICANZ is an adoption placement agency, that represents you in Thailand, to arrange for a child to be placed with you; we don't approve you to be an adoptive parent - it's AFS or MVCOT that assesses you, presents the Homestudy Report to the NZCA for their approval. ICANZ then works with you to arrange the overseas adoption.
  • Register fully with ICANZ. We'll prepare your application and liaise with the overseas body to apply for adoption
  • You'll be matched with a child.
  • You'll travel to Thailand, for 14– 18 days. Collect your child, meet with the Thai Child Adoption Board and sign documentation
  • After you arrive back in NZ, ICANZ will come to your home three times in the first six months and write reports on your child. After 3 satisfactory reports are sent to the Thai Child Adoption Board you'll receive permission to finalise the adoption, typically about 12-18 months after you return from Thailand. You must then travel to Wellington to register the adoption at the Royal Thai Embassy. It will take another 6 months or more to receive the documentation needed to gain New Zealand citizenship
  • You'll need to send a photo of the child to the orphanage every year until your child is 18.
How long does it take?

thai2Timeframes for adoption from Thailand vary significantly. Each child's case is unique. In general, the time from application to ICANZ to bringing your child home is about 2 years, although applications for older children or medically needy children may be processed more quickly. Please do not apply for adoption in Thailand unless you're willing and able to cope with variable timeframes and can be very patient!

What costs are involved?

You'll need to pay for all costs associated with ICANZ work for you, travel accommodation, personal costs and post placement reporting costs. Contact ICANZ for details. Also see our article on why there are costs involved in adoption.