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? Married couples who are -
  • approved by the NZ Central Authority (NZCA)
  • married at least 2 years, with no more than one divorce per parent.
  • both aged over 25. For a child 2 or under, parents should be under 45 years, with an average age under 41, at the time ICANZ receives your home study report.  Note - older couples can be considered for children 4 and over, or 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. 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?

For those hoping to adopt a child aged 1-3, we can help you adopt a child who is under the guardianship of our partner agency, FFAC, a non-government organisation in Thailand. Children are usually aged 22-36 months by the time they join your family. There are more boys than girls placed for adoption. First time applicants cannot specify gender. We can also help you adopt an older child (4+) or a child with medical needs.

Most of the children were voluntarily relinquished by young single birth parents at, or shortly after, birth. 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, FFAC has 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?

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.

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.

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 our Thai programme due to limited numbers.
  • Choose either AFS or MfVC to provide education/assessment/homestudy services. 
  • Undergo assessment with AFS or MfVC 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 MfVC 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 our partner agency FFAC to apply for adoption
  • You will be pre-matched with a child.
  • Some time later, you will 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 one 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 a lot. Numbers of adoptions are small and each case is unique. In general, after submitting your documents, you can expect to be matched with a child within 6-15 months, then wait a further 6-12 months or so to collect your child. 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.