MPs have been petitioned to allow court ordered adoptions for foster parents in cases of abuse or neglect, even when a birth parent won't consent.
A Hamilton couple have told a select committee that even though they've been caring for a girl for eight years, all important decisions - such as schooling and medical care - still have to go past her biological mother, who is not involved in the girl's life.
Wiremu and Sunny Bayliss are considered "home for life parents", meaning although a child is under their permanent care, its biological parents are also considered co-guardians.
Mrs Bayliss told MPs their child's mother is highly transient and has a history of substance abuse, but won't hand over full guardianship, allowing them to adopt the girl.
She said the government needed to step in to award caregivers the ability to adopt children in such extreme circumstances.