How To Adopt A Child In Singapore? Must Read Guide

by | Oct 11, 2023 | Knowledge & Insights

happy asian family

Adoption is a legal process that gives a person the rights of a parent over a child. Once an adoption is finalised, the child no longer has any ties to his or her birth parents.

The people who adopt the child become the child’s parents and take on all of a parent’s rights, responsibilities, and liabilities. A married couple can apply to adopt a child together.

The Adoption of Children Act is the main law that governs child adoption in Singapore (ACA). Learn more about how to adopt a child in Singapore and how a family lawyer can help.

1. Who Can Adopt A Child In Singapore?

To adopt a child In Singapore, you must fall under the following conditions:

  • Singapore citizen
  • Permanent resident
  • Holder of an Employment Pass
  • Holder of a Dependant’s Pass
  • Holder of any other pass that the family Court thinks gives them the right to live in Singapore.

2. What Are The Eligibility Requirements For Adoption?

eligibility requirements

Adoption is only permitted for children under the age of 21. Furthermore, the child must have never been married.

The child must be a Singaporean, PR, or Dependant’s Pass holder. In addition, the child must be a resident of Singapore. 

The child is not regarded as a Singapore resident if:

  • They only possesses a visitor’s pass, a student’s pass, or a special pass; or
  • The Immigration Act forbids the child’s entry into Singapore.

To adopt a child in Singapore, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Couples – In Singapore, only a man and a woman who are married to each other can adopt a child together. If the marriage happened in another country, both that country’s and Singapore’s laws must agree that the adoption is valid.
  • Singles – Singles who want to adopt must be citizens or permanent residents of Singapore. Applicants also have to live in Singapore most of the time. This is determined by how long they have lived there and where they work.
  • Requirements for citizenship – For married couples to apply together, at least one must be a Singapore citizen, or both must be Permanent Residents (PRs).
  • Age requirements – Applicants must usually be at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child they want to adopt. This is the case unless there are special circumstances, like if the applicant and the child are biologically related within limits set by the Court.

3. Pre-Adoption Application Requirements:

Adoption agencies approved by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)  must hold pre-adoption and disclosure briefings for applicants. During these meetings, applicants learn about the adoption process, how to care for an adopted child, and how to tell the child he or she is adopted.

Applicants also have to undergo an Adoption Suitability Assessment (ASA). The ASA is a home study done by adoption agencies approved by MSF. This evaluation takes into account, among other things, how stable the applicant’s finances are and how well they can interact with the child.

If you want to adopt a child who is related to you, like a stepchild, you may be able to get a simpler ASA.

Note: Giving false or misleading information to the government or adoption agencies is illegal. If you do, you could be fined up to $5,000 or sent to jail for up to a year, or both.

4. Adoption Is Prohibited In The Following Situations:

The Court takes these factors into consideration when adopting a child. Adoption may be rejected because of the following:

  • Male applicants cannot adopt female children (unless in certain cases).
  • Since same-sex couples cannot marry in Singapore, they cannot apply to adopt together.
  • Sexual, violent, or drug-related offenders cannot adopt;
  • If the offence was committed as a minor and the applicant has reformed, they may be allowed to adopt. However, the Court must be convinced that adopting the child will not harm them.

5. Additional Considerations To Take Note Of:

Additional considerations to take note of when adopting a child are the following:

  • Provision of support services – During the adoption process, the Court may force applicants or other relevant parties to participate in mediation, psychotherapy, or other similar programs. 

Note: This is to guarantee that any concerns emerging from the adoption application are resolved (such as in the case of a contested adoption application), any existing relationship issues between the parties should be resolved, and that the child’s well-being and safety are ensured.

  • The child’s well-being – The Court must be convinced that the adoption would benefit the child’s welfare. In reaching this conclusion, the Court considers the child’s desires in light of his or her age and level of maturity.
  • Consent – Before the Court can grant an adoption order, approval must be secured from all necessary parties.

Consent for the child’s birth parents to recognise that an adoption decree permanently strips them of parental rights.  However, the Court may waive the requirement for consent from the birth parents in certain situations, such as when:

  • The birth parents have intentionally caused grievous harm to the child.
  • Ill-treated the child
  • Failed to properly care for the child
  • The birth parents are drug addicts and have been convicted of at least two drug offences, which renders them incapable of caring for the child.
  • The birth parents are currently in jail.
  • The birth parents cannot care for the child because they are drug addicts.

5. What Is The Procedure For Child Adoption In Singapore?

mohter and son having fun

Step 1: Attend A Pre-Adoption Orientation 

Attending a Pre-Adoption Briefing (PAB) is required for adoptive parents before they may begin the process of selecting a child for adoption, submitting an application for a home study, or filing a petition with the Court. You and your partner are expected to be present.

Step 2: Get Certification From Your Home Country (For Non-Singapore Citizens)

Non-Singaporeans seeking to adopt a child in Singapore must apply for a Letter of Approval prior to initiating their Home Study Assessment. 

To do so, you must get a Letter of Support (LOS) from the embassy/high commission of your home country indicating the following:

  • The adoptive parents meet the legal standards for adoption in your country.
  • The adoptive parents’ home country will recognise the adoption in Singapore (s).
  • Permanent residence will be awarded to the adopted child in the nation of the adoptive parents (s).
  • In the case of a combined application by a married couple with different nationalities, both adoptive parents must get a Letter of Support  (LOS)

Email the following to Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) via [email protected] to request a Letter of Approval:

  • Supporting letter(s)
  • Copies of identity documents of applicants (i.e. valid passport and immigration pass)
  • Address and duration of residence in Singapore
  • Future residency plans
  • Marriage certificate

Note: The application procedure will take one to two months, barring complications.

Step 3: Identify An Adoptable Child

You may identify a child on your own or with assistance from MSF.

Find a child through a personal connection.

You may find an adoptable child through relatives, friends, or other parties. MSF does not provide child-matching services, unless you are seeking an adoptable kid under State care.

Please check that the source is lawful and that the child is handed to you in accordance with all applicable laws. Adoption requires parental approval that has been notarised.

MSF can help you find a child.

MSF will place for adoption state-cared-for children considered adoptable by the organisation.

Please remember that you are required to complete a home study before you can choose an MSF kid for adoption. When you have completed your Home Study Report and requested information about these children, the accredited agencies will provide you with this information.

Step 4: Obtain Notarised Consent From The Child’s Parents

Once a kid has been identified, the next step is to obtain the birth parents’ or legal guardian’s notarised consent. This means they give up all their duties, rights and obligations to the child, once the adoption order is obtained.

In the absence of a legal guardian or birth parents, you must obtain consent from:

  • The kid’s guardian
  • The person with physical custody of the child
  • The person responsible for supporting the child
  • The biological parent’s parents or guardian if the biological parent is under 21 years old.

Note: Proving the consent of the birth parent(s) and/or the appropriate person(s) will help reduce the chances of an adoption contest in the future, should the biological parents learn of the adoption.

You must present the Court with an affidavit outlining all efforts made to find the birth parent(s) and/or relevant person(s) using the following methods:

  • Social media
  • Mutual acquaintances Relatives
  • Last place of domicile
  • Other feasible methods

If you’re unable to get the notarised approval of the necessary parties as described in above, you’ll need to file a motion with the Court to waive that requirement.

Step 5: Obtain All Of The Child’s Identity Documents

You must obtain and verify the authenticity of all documents about the child’s identity. These documents consist of the following:

  • Certificate of a child’s birth
  • Passport of the minor (if a child is a Permanent Resident)

Step 6: Prepare An Itemised Account Of All Costs Associated With Adopting The Child

Section 11 of the Adoption of Children Act prohibits cash or any other reward in exchange for the adoption unless approved by the Court.

Suppose you expended costs during the child transfer (such as a token of appreciation to the parents, payment to an agency for services done, or payment to any other parties). In that case, the Family Court requires you to give a breakdown of the amount and original receipts.

Step 7: File A Petition With The Family Court

After completing stages 1 through 5, you may apply to the Family Court. You may do so in person or via an attorney.

Step 8: The Court Assigns An Adoption Guardian For The Kid

The Court will urge you or your attorney to obtain approval from the Director-General of Social Welfare at the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to act as Guardian-In-Adoption (GIA) for the child during the adoption procedure. 

The Guardian-In-Adoption (GIA) protects the welfare of the child being considered for adoption. The GIA undertakes the appropriate social investigations and delivers an affidavit to the Family Court regarding the adoption application. 

If your request for the Director-General of Social Welfare to be the GIA is approved, MSF will provide consent. After obtaining MSF’s permission, you or your attorney must submit the document to the Family Court.

The Director of Social Welfare will then be appointed as the GIA by the Family Court.

Please ensure that all of the documentation indicated below is prepared before submitting your application here.

  • Originating adoption summons
  • Adoption assertion
  • Supporting affidavit for the initial summons
  • Consent to adoption by the biological parents and/or other pertinent people (s) (please refer to Step 4 for more information).
  • Certificate of birth of the kid to be adopted
  • Passport of the child to be adopted as a dependent
  • Acceptance letter for Waiver of Home Study evaluation (if applicable)

Note: Please be aware that only applications accompanied by complete forms and documents will be processed. The GIA will also need you to pay a certain fee for the adoption application.

Prospective adoptive parents must get a Certificate of Attendance for Pre-Adoption Briefing (PAB). This can be registered on the Adoption Portal.

Step 9:  Attend MSF Interviews

The GIA will designate a Child Welfare Officer (CWO) from MSF to perform the necessary interviews regarding your family and the state and circumstances of the child. You must cooperate with the designated Child Welfare Officer (CWO) and give the requested information.

You must attend all interviews at the MSF office or other required locations and let the CWO visit your residence. 

MSF will write an affidavit (an evaluation of the adoption application based on the findings of the social investigation) and submit it to the Family Court once the investigation is complete.

Step 10: Request A Hearing Date

When the affidavit is finalised, MSF will submit it to you or your attorney and notify the Family Court. Within two weeks, you or your attorney will submit the affidavit to the Family Court and request a hearing date.

Step 11: Attend Court Proceedings

You or your attorney must attend the Court hearing for the matter. The Court may invite additional parties, such as the Child Welfare Officer (CWO) and the child’s biological parents, to attend the hearing.

Step 12: Registration Of The Child Following The Hearing Before The Family Court

If the Family Court grants the Adoption Order, it will notify the Registry of Births and Deaths, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to issue the child a new Birth Certificate. ICA will send you or your attorney a letter requesting the Birth Certificate.

If the Court denies your petition, you will be responsible for returning the child to his or her family at your own expense.

Conclusion On How To Adopt A Child In Singapore

Adoption can be a very stressful process but it’s worth it. Are you confused about what to do first when adopting a child in Singapore? Contact us, and let us guide you through the process of child adoption.

We, at Singapore Family Lawyer, provide services that can assist you in legally adopt a kid.

Frequently Asked Questions On How To Adopt A Child In Singapore

Are International Adoptions Possible In Singapore?

Non-Singaporeans who seek to adopt a child in Singapore must apply for a Letter of Approval before initiating the Home Study Assessment.

How Long Does The Adoption Process Take In Singapore?

Depending on the complexity of your application, the review procedure could take anywhere from one to two months. You should ensure your first adopted child is thriving in your family and home before expanding your family through adoption.

Where In Singapore Can I Find An Adoption Agency?

Agencies for adoption are the following:

  • The Adoption of Children Act (ACA) contains most of Singapore’s adoption rules.
  • The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) enforces the adoption rules.
  • The Voluntary Welfare Organisation determines whether or not an adoptive family is suitable for a child.

Can I Legally Put My Child Up For Adoption In Singapore?

Putting your child up for adoption can be done in the following ways: contacting a Family Service Centre (FSC) or other approved organisations. Your other choice is to place your child for adoption.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.