How an Expat Can Adopt a Child in Thailand — Not Easy, But It Can Be Done

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Since I moved to Thailand several years ago, I’ve been considering adopting a Thai child. As an expat living in Thailand, I knew the Thai government had different rules for people like me wanting to adopt. After all, the child is more likely to remain in Thailand, something the Thai government likes, as they really want Thais to be brought up with Thai values.

But, recently, I went a step further and met with an official at the Thai Department of Public Welfare to find out more. After all, if I decide to adopt a Thai child, I wanted to know what I would need to do, as an expat resident in Thailand, to prepare for that event and also the time factor involved.

Age of Thai Children Allowed To Be Adopted – During my consultation with the Thai Department of Public Welfare, I was told that the youngest a Thai child is allowed to be adopted is age six months. Before that, you can foster a Thai child, but the Thai government also wants to give the mother enough time to reconsider and maybe reclaim her child, which is where the six month rule comes in.

I’m looking at adopting a Thai child who’s over the age of five, so the first rule didn’t apply to me.

What’s the Process If You Do Want to Adopt a Thai Baby? – If however you do want to adopt a very young baby, once the six months waiting period is up, the Thai authorities will contact the mother and she will be asked to relinquish her rights to the child.

If the mother is not easily contactable, which is quite common in Thailand, the waiting period for her to relinquish all rights takes longer. Authorities will advertise in various newspapers to see if the mother comes forward. After a few weeks or months waiting period, if there’s no word from the mother, then it’s assumed she no longer wants the child and your adoption can begin.

How Long Does It Take To Adopt a Thai Child? – Times can vary, after all this is Thailand, where nothing is set in stone. The Department of Public Welfare approximates it normally takes anything between 9 months to a year and a half for expats living in Thailand who want to adopt a child. This is because certain checks need to be done and interviews made.

What Qualifications and Requirements Must You Have? – If you’re an expat living in Thailand and want to adopt a Thai child, then the requirements are different. To some extent, they are stricter than for westerners who come to to Thailand to adopt a child to take out of the country, but that’s to be expected as the Thai authorities have more time to check up on you.

Firstly, you must have been living in Thailand for at least a year as an expat, before you are allowed you to apply to adopt a Thai child. As this helps weed out potential pedophiles, coming to Thailand to simply adopt a child for nefarious reasons, this is reasonable and necessary in my opinion.

Secondly, you must be able to give the Department of Public Welfare an original birth certificate and marriage certificate if you are married. Thailand also allows single adults to adopt a child so, if you’re not married, this isn’t likely to hinder you in adopting a Thai child, especially if you are female.

Interviews in Order to be Able to Adopt a Thai Child as an Expat – The Department of Public Welfare will interview you three times over a few weeks period. The interviews will take place in your home, so they can check to see what kind of living environment you have, and if it’s suitable to be the home for a child.

I’ve spoken to a couple of expats who live in Thailand and who have adopted Thai children and they said the interviews were relaxed, unintrusive and they really felt the case workers only had the best interests of the child in mind. Of course, as an expat, you are likely to be looked at a little more seriously because they want to be sure you are going to take care of a Thai child correctly, giving him or her a Thai education, bringing the child up with good Thai values and, even are you willing to learn more about Thai culture.

One question that will also be asked is how long you plan on staying in Thailand, permanently or temporarily. This will likely have some impact on your adoption of a Thai child. But, both couples I spoke to planned on being in Thailand permanently so, for them, this question was an easy one to answer.

Once the interviews are complete, you will then be placed on a waiting list to adopt a Thai child and will be contacted when a suitable child becomes available. Of course, like anywhere, your waiting time will be less if you have less ‘must-bes’. Put simply, if you want a girl age 3 1/2 from Bangkok, you’ll wait longer than if you’re willing to adopt ‘any child that needs a good home’.

To get more information, you can contact the Thai Department of Public Welfare at 02-246-8651.

Adopting a Thai child if you’re an expat living in Thailand needn’t be difficult or harrowing. If you’re legitimately wanting to adopt a Thai child because you want to be a parent of and take care of another human being that will otherwise never have that opportunity, then it’s unlikely you’ll come across many problems.

Adopting a Thai child is likely to be one of the best things you’ll ever do because, as an ex-teacher in Thailand, I can say Thai kids brought up in Thai culture are some of the sweetest kids in the world. Guaranteed.

Good luck and happy adopting!