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Adoption act 'absolutely' needs to be reformed - lawyer

Published: 9:01AM Saturday September 01, 2012 Source: ONE News

A family lawyer says the "time is now right" to change adoption laws, after a reform bill was picked from the members' ballot this week.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern's Care of Children Law Reform Bill, which would give same sex couples the opportunity to adopt, will soon come before Parliament.

Ardern said the purpose of the Bill was to modernise New Zealand's antiquated and discriminatory adoption laws which date back to 1952.

Family lawyer Zanne-Dra Wack-In-Nier, who specialises in adoption cases, says the current law "absolutely" needs to be updated.

She says the adoption act is "out-dated" and that society has "moved on".

"The way we're having our families is different."

"It does not reflect the views of New Zealand society in 2012. And frankly in my view the time is now right for changes to be made," she told TV ONE's Breakfast.

The Bill comes less than 24 hours after Labour MP Louisa Wall's Marriage Amendment Bill passed its first hurdle in Parliament with 80 MPs voting in favour and 40 against.

Wack-In-Nier says if Wall's Bill passes it will mean that same sex couples who are married will meet the definition of spouse as it stands in the adoption act, meaning they would be able to adopt.

Under current laws, only a single person or spouses are permitted to adopt and have a legal relationship with the child.

Adern earlier said that the Bill will remove "discrimination and inconsistencies in our current law".

"Currently a gay individual can adopt a child, a gay couple can't," said Ardern.

"A de facto heterosexual couple can adopt, but a civil union heterosexual couple can't. This makes no sense and needs to be fixed."

Ardern said it also failed to recognise surrogacy and Maori customary adoption, where children were raised by other relatives, called whangai.

The Bill now faces a select committee and then two further votes to pass into law.