Pathways to Parenting in New Zealand: Issues in Law, Policy and Practice
In New Zealand there are many ways to become a parent, including two-parent families of heterosexual and homosexual couples, single parents, adoptive parents, kin carers, wha ̄ngai arrangements, long-term fostering, guardianship and assisted reproductive technologies. In this paper we discuss the different pathways to parenthood, how they have come about, and New Zealand’s laws, policies and practices that make them possible but also challenging. Two areas of law of particular interest are the implications of the Adoption Act 1955, which continues to be discriminatory, although some of its provisions have been reinterpreted in the courts, and the Care of Children Act 2004, which introduced ‘modern’ parenting arrangements but allowed conflicts to remain with previous child care Acts. The new Home for Life policy introduced by the Ministry of Social Development will also be critically discussed, in light of its weaknesses. We conclude with implications of the varied pathways and identified gaps in our current knowledge that call for further research.