In Malaysia there are three categories of adoptions – Muslim adoption, non-Muslim adoption and international adoption. There are two ways of legally adopting a child in peninsular Malaysia.
Laws keep changing, please consult your legal advisor for the current status. Here is a brief overview:
Commonly known as ‘registrar adoption’ or ‘departmental adoption’ this type of adoption is made under the Registration of Adoption Act 1952 via the National Registration Department (NRD). The prospective parents, who can be either Muslims or non-Muslims, will need to take care of the child for at least 2 years before they may apply to register the adoption of the child at the NRD. Applications of this kind are made through the Social Welfare Department.
The adoptive parents of a child adopted by way of a registrar adoption only have custodial rights over the adopted child, with the responsibility to care, maintain and educate him or her. That child will not inherit any property belonging to his or her adoptive parents should they die intestate.
‘Court adoption’ is effected through the court process under the Adoption Act 1952. Only non-Muslims can adopt through a court order. The adoptive parents have a duty to obtain a statutory declaration from the child’s natural parents consenting to the adoption. After 3 months of caring for the adoptive child, the adoptive parent(s) can petition the Sessions Court though a lawyer for the adoption order. The original birth certificate of the child to be adopted must be produced.
The adoption order is given after the Court weighs written reports from the Social Welfare Department and the child’s adoptive parents. The adopted child must be younger than 21 years old. Once an adoption order under the Adoption Act 1952 has been made a replacement birth certificate which names the adoptive parent(s) as the child’s new parent(s) will be issued.
Legal adoptions require the original birth certificate of the child. All children born in Malaysia are eligible for a birth certificate irrespective of nationality. Without a birth certificate the child is regarded stateless. A stateless child cannot go to school, apply for a MyKad (identity card), a passport or get a job, own property or get married.
Source Reference: The Adoption Act 1952 (www.skrine.com/court-adoption-in-west-malaysia)
The Ministry of Women, Family & Community Development announced in November 2016 it is setting up a steering committee comprising various government ministries, NGOs, academicians and other stakeholders to address issues pertaining to the care, protection and rehabilitation of children. Resolving issues relating to adoption and fostering are on the ministry’s agenda.