• The requirement for sole male applicants to prove “special circumstances” before being permitted to adopt a female child (when there was no such requirement for a single female to prove “special circumstances)
• The ability for the Court to dispense with the consent of birth fathers in some circumstances before a child was adopted (but not birth mothers )
• The inability of civil union partners or same sex de facto couples to adopt.
• The absence of a requirement for unmarried opposite sex or same sex partners of a sole applicant for an adoption order to give consent (even when the couple is living together at the time of the application).
• The ability to dispense with consent of a disabled parent or guardian before his or her child is adopted.
• The prohibition on persons under the age of 25 adopting a child.
• In relation to the Adult Adoption Information Act –the prohibition on a person under the age of 20 obtaining a copy of his or her original birth certificate.
But the greatest discrimination of all is that non-Maori must observe whatever is dictated by adoption laws yet Maori are exempt.
Adding further irony, only days ago parliament was debating the inclusion of whangai adoptions in entitlement to paid parental leave:
Employment law reforms to extend paid parental leave has included the eligibility of family guardians of whangai children.
The term whangai is used to describe the traditional Maori custom of informal adoption, and had never been formally recognised in legislation on parental leave.
The Government's Employment Standards Legislation Bill passed its second reading on Thursday. Among other changes, it looked to extend paid parental leave from 16 to 18 weeks. The changes would need to be in effect from 1 April to fulfil Government announcements.
So whangai should have official legal status if there is some benefit to be attained.
Maori want to think carefully about what might/will follow. Certainly loss of sovereignty over this particular traditional custom.