Inter-Country Adoption New Zealand

Requirements for Adopting Parents

Philippines baby room
Who can adopt? 

All countries have requirements for adoptive parents, criteria they feel are in the best interests of their children that need adoptive families and meet their legal and cultural requirements.  Below are the criteria for adoptions via ICANZ. Some are fixed, some are flexible if you're applying for waiting children. In some countries single women are accepted as adoptive applicants. No countries ICANZ works with accept applications from couples in de facto, civil union or same-sex relationships; this results from the overseas countries' legislation, policies and culture.

To adopt with ICANZ you must:

  • be a New Zealand resident
  • be approved as suitable to be an adoptive parent by the NZ Central Authority for Adoption (the Ministry for Vulnerable Children (formerly CYF)), following assessment by AFS or the Ministry,
  • be financially secure and able to support a child, with suitable housing, and have the funds to finance the adoption costs and travel,
  • be in good mental and physical health (interpretation of this differs for each country),
  • be at least 25 years old or as per country requirement,
  • meet the general requirements of the ICANZ programme as below, and any futher requirements specific to your case and the country,
  • commit to residing in NZ for the length of time required for post placement reporting requirements for your child's country. This may be 2-4 years.

This chart is not intended to be inclusive of all requirements, only the basic requirements. Extra requirements may be applied by the NZCA in individual cases. For example,you'll only be approved to adopt children younger than any children already in your family.  In some countries criteria can be waived or eased if you are applying to adopt Special Focus or Waiting children. Timeframes may also differ in these cases. Give us a call to chat about your personal situation.

Some programmes have limited numbers of applicants per year. Pre-registration is essential for these programmes. 

  Age of Applicant Marital Status 5 Age of Child at Placement Gender Preference Family Size Approx Travel Length of Time to Match 1



For children under 2 at matching - average age under 41, when ICANZ sends application to Thailand and neither parent over 45. Older couples  considered for older children or special needs children.

Married two years. No more than 1 divorce. ICANZ does not accept singles for Thai adoption.

Children of all ages from 24 months, but limited number of applicants for children under 3.

Not allowed un

Couples who already have a child by birth can apply for children 5+ or medically needy children of any age. Those unable to have children by birth can apply for a child under 3 year.

1 trip, 14-16 days

Usually 8-15 months. Note: a further 8-12+ months wait to travel after matching


Preferably no more than 40 yr average age gap between parent(s) and oldest child. Applicants accepted up to early 50s for children aged 9-11 years.

Married, no more than 1 divorce.

Singles can only apply if they have Lithuanian citizenship.

1) Siblings groups of 2 or 3+ children, oldest child 8+
2) Individual children over 9.
3) children 3-7 with health needs.


No set restrictions

Usually 1 trip, about 18-21 days

2-6+ months but variable


See country page for religious, financial, health, education criteria

Over 27 years. No more than 45 years between mother's and child's age.

Income at least US$40,000 / year. Reference from church minister or priest who has known you for 5 years. Education level - see Philippines page.

Married 3 yrs2, or 1 yr marriage with 3 year relationship, 2 divorces permitted/parent.

Single women may adopt children 9-15 years only3.

Infants, toddlers, children of all ages.

Not allowed, except waiting children

Prefer no more than 3 children at home (may be waived for waiting children, school age children)

1 trip, 7-8 days

6 - 24 months depending on age of child, health criteria specified


For a child under 4 - couples combined age under 90 (singles, under 45) - with Indian heritage, or an application for medically needy child.

For a child 4-8 combined age under 100 (singles, under 50).

For a child 8-18 combined age under 110 (singles under 55).

Married 2 yrs or singles aged 25-55 4

Indian applicants - any age. Others must be open to a child 5+ or younger with medical needs


Families with 3 or more children may apply for waiting children, ie older children or those with medical needs.

1 trip, 10-14 days

Approx 3-18 months depending on age of child, health criteria specified.The shortest times are for the children over 6, or those with health needs.

Russia - The NZ MSD has stopped negotiating on a bilateral arrangement with Russia, closing this programme








1. Length of time is calculated from the time you submit your documents to ICANZ to the time of referral (ie child match). It is our current best estimate. However, many factors can extend, or shorten the length of time. ICANZ will do our utmost to keep your process moving in a timely manner, but there is absolutely no guarantee of timeframes.  Countries vary in the length of time between matching and bringing the child to NZ, from 2-12 months usually.
2. Length of marriage criteria may be eased in some cases eg if a de facto relationship existed, you are now legally married and/or you are applying for “waiting” children. Couples must be legally married; civil unions are not accepted in the above countries for adoption.
3. Single women accepted in Philippines only for children 9 and above. Applications accepted on a case by case  basis.
4. In India non-Indian single women are typically offered children aged 5 - 10+ and/or younger children with definite medical needs.
5. None of these countries accept applications from gay or lesbian couples, couples in de facto relationships or in a civil union.