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Adoption in Hong Kong is governed by the Adoption Ordinance, Cap 290. Adoption vests legal parenthood in adoptive parents over an unmarried child or children under 18 years of age, and brings an end to all legal parenthood otherwise vested in natural parents (section 13). It is effected by order of the court (section 4) and it is generally permanent and irreversible.
Adoptions may only be arranged by the court, relatives, the Director of Social Welfare or bodies accredited by the Director (section 23A). It is an offence to advertise a child for adoption (section 23). A ‘relative’ is a child’s grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt, including by half-blood or affinity (section 2). Presently, International Social Services, Mother’s Choice and Po Leung Kuk are accredited (see Adoption in the Contacts list in Duxbury Etc).
Relatives may adopt locally from the age of 21 (section 5(1)(b)) and need not undertake a suitability assessment, whereas non-relatives and relatives who wish to complete an intercountry adoption must be 25 years of age and must apply for a suitability assessment (section 27) to be conducted by the Director or an accredited body (section 29).
In the case of a local adoption, the consent of parents and guardians, which is generally required (section 5(5)) will then be obtained (section 29A or 29B), unless it has been dispensed with (section 6). The child and prospective adoptive parents will be placed and matched together. Intercountry adoptions proceed in much the same way (section 29C).
Ultimately the court will determine whether an adoption order should be made, and must be satisfied that requisite guardian and parent consent has been obtained, that adoption would be in the child’s best interests, that the adoptive parents are fit and proper persons and that no payment or reward has been exchanged (section 8).
Foreign adoptions may be recognised in Hong Kong under sections 17 and 20F.
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