A simple guide on adoption in Singapore

A simple guide on adoption in Singapore
09 Mar 2021

A simple guide on adoption in Singapore

Governed by the Adoption of Children Act (ACA), child adoption in Singapore refers to the process where adopters are conferred parental rights over the child, during which the original parents sever their own. These parental rights comprise all the duties, obligations and liabilities towards the child.

The court can grant adoptive rights to either the adoptive mother, father, or both, as long as the legal requirements are fulfilled. Working with an adoption lawyer is imperative as he/she will protect your legal rights and ensure your application complies with the law.

Before considering to engage an adoption lawyer in Singapore, it is helpful to understand the requirements and processes you will go through.


According to section 4 of the ACA, prospective adopters, whether they apply as an individual or as a couple, must be:

  • At least 25 years old, or
  • At least 21 years older than the child

However, the above requirements may be exempted when the child or adopter(s) are blood-related or an exceptional circumstance exists that necessitates the adoption.

When it comes to the age of the child, he/she must be below 21 years old, as stipulated under section 3(2). 

Marital status

Both married couples and singles are allowed to adopt a child in Singapore. However, there are a few restrictions:

  • Should the adopter be married, his/her partner must be of the opposite gender.
  • According to section 4(3), single males cannot adopt a female child unless there is a special circumstance.

Nationality / Place of residence

You must be required to prove a level of local residency before you can adopt a child. In pursuant to section 4(6), the adopter must be a resident of Singapore by way of:

  • Singapore citizenship
  • Permanent residence
  • Employment pass
  • Dependent’s pass
  • Or any other form of identification approved by the Family Court

In addition, residents who are not Singapore Citizens are required to obtain an endorsement as a form of support and recognition from their home countries through the embassy or High Commission.

When it comes to the nationality of the child, unless he/she is a Singaporean, the adopter must complete a Home Study Report. Typically conducted by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the report assesses how ready you and your family are to adopt a child. With the report, you must also obtain an In-Principle Approval letter for the child’s Dependent’s Pass application.

Please note that before adopting a child from the Republic of China, you will need to fulfil the requirements prescribed by the China Centre for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA). More details can be found on the MSF website.

Payments / Rewards

As defined by section 11, any payment or reward received from the biological parents or other parties for adopting the child is deemed unlawful. However, the court may agree to these provided they serve a specific reason and not the adoption as a whole, as noted by section 5(c). For instance, payment by way of reimbursing hospital bills or other medical expenses may be allowed by the court.


Whether you are a single adopter or married, you will need to seek notarised consent - a signed document - from a few parties for a successful adoption process:

  • Your spouse, if you are applying as a sole applicant and are married
  • Biological parents of the child (If the parents are below 21 years of age, you must seek consent from their guardians or parents.)
  • Guardian of the child, if any
  • Custodian of the child
  • People liable to support the child

If obtaining notarised consent is not possible, the Court may dispense with the consent only when there are special circumstances to justify this. This must be made by way of application to the court.

Child welfare

Despite the readiness of the adoptive parents, the court will still make the decision based on what is good for the child. As prescribed by section 5(b), the court considers the following:

  • The order for adoption must be made for the welfare of the child
  • The child’s wishes will be considered pursuant to his/her age and level of understanding


Your lawyer will guide you on completing each procedure applicable to your case. A summarised list of procedures can be found below:

  • Attend a pre-adoption briefing before starting the legal proceedings
  • Identify the child to adopt, through your network or the MSF
  • Acquire all legal documents of the child, such as the birth certificate and passport
  • Seek an endorsement from your home country if you are not a Singapore Citizen
  • Obtain a Home Study Report and In-Principle Approval letter if the child is a foreigner
  • Apply for Dependent’s Pass if the child is a foreigner
  • Acquire notarised consent from applicable parties, as stated above
  • Detail an itemised list of costs incurred during the process, with official receipts as proof
  • Complete adoption forms and submit them to the MSF

Potential outcomes

Your adoption lawyer will inform you that there is no single outcome at the end of the proceedings. Here are the potential outcomes you can expect:

  • Unconditional offer: conferred when all requirements are fulfilled
  • Conditional offer: granted in the event the court finds that the adoption can only be considered based on certain conditions
  • Interim order: custody granted for up to two years, and adoptive parents must fulfil obligations, welfare and maintenance according to the terms set by the court
  • No adoption granted: court does not find the adoptive parents suitable nor the adoption ideal for the welfare of the child

Specialising in various aspects of family law, our lawyers will guide you through the process and address all concerns you may have. Speak to our adoption lawyers in Singapore.

For more information, please contact our Business Development Manager, Ricky Soetikno, at [email protected].