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Word Count: 1,135
Adoption The Adoption Act 1955 established the principle of secrecy the previous identity of the adopted child was inaccessible and birth parents were not given access to the new identity of their child The legislation and practice were based upon an assumption that the past should be concealed and the birth mother would forget her ordeal This specific feature of the present legislation runs counter to the developing trend towards openness in adoption The opening up of adoption was initiated by adoptees and was first met with strong resistance Since the 1980s open adoption in New Zealand has become standard practice and has been assisted with new legislation to allow access to previously confidential records Open adoption can range from meeting prior to the adoption to regular meeting between birth parents to intermittent ongoing contact Where the degree of contact is decided by the parties involved New Zealand has been described as having the leading Western adoption practise with respect to openness Although widely practised it is not recognised in law and family court judges struggle to reconcile open adoption with the Act- which servers ties with birth parents completely Openness in adoption at the time of placement is not yet written into the legal process in New Zealand Instead it is a moral commitment that both adoptive and birth parent make at the time of adoption It is a matter of trust only and solely voluntary with adoptive parents having the ultimate choice of whether or not contact is maintained and the birth parent having no legal rights to contact at all There are significant legal and structural difficulties which impede a completely open adoption process There are many alternatives to this problem but there are two main options put forward The first is parliament could retain adoption but modify the legislation so that it reflects contemporary adoption practice or
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