What is adoption?
Adoption permanently transfers all the legal parenting rights and responsibilities from the child’s birth parents (or anyone with parental responsibility for the child) to the adoptive parents.
What is open adoption?
Australia practices open adoption. This means that children who are adopted grow up with an understanding that they have been adopted and, where possible, are supported by their adoptive family to have a relationship with or knowledge of their family of origin and cultural heritage.
Adopting a child from out-of-home care
If a child has lived with a carer in long term foster care and restoration to their birth family or guardianship to a member of their extended family is not considered appropriate, the foster parent/carer may be able to apply to adopt the child in their care.
Who must give their consent?
The views of the child or young person are always taken into consideration, and those aged 12 years or older must give their written consent to an adoption order being made, where they are capable of doing so.
Children must never be put under any pressure to either give their consent to an adoption, or not to consent.
The consent of birth parents and the Minister is required for children:
- under 12 years of age
- aged between 12 and 18 who have been in the care of the prospective adoptive parents for less than two years
- aged between 12 and 18 who are deemed not have sufficient maturity to give consent.
The Supreme Court can make orders dispensing with the consent of a child’s birth parents in certain circumstances such as when the birth parent cannot be found or is mentally incapable of giving consent. The court can also make an order to dispense with parental consent when it believes it is in the best interests of the child.
How to apply to adopt a child in your care
The application and assessment process is thorough and can be lengthy, regardless of how long a child has been in the care of the people applying to become their adoptive parents.
In brief, the process involves:
- the carer, the child, or the case manager/agency can initiate a discussion about adoption and if it is a suitable pathway for that child
- the child’s birth parents are informed and their opinion sought
- the carer attends a preparation for adoption seminar
- the carer submits a formal application, involving medical, identity and criminal checks, referees and personal information
- an in-depth assessment is carried out, involving discussions with the carer, the child and the birth parents
- an Adoption Plan is developed
- formal consent is given by anyone required to do so
- an application to court is prepared, including the signed adoption plan and affidavits from all parties
- the application is submitted to the Supreme Court in Sydney.
For more detail about the process download Information for authorised carers on out-of-home care adoption.
What is an Adoption Plan
An Adoption Plan is an agreement between the the birth parents, the child and the carers, about how the child’s relationship with their birth family, and their knowledge of their culture and identity will be supported. It is based on the discussions held during the assessment process.
Adoption Plans are filed at the Court as part of the application for an Adoption Order.
What support is available for adoptive parents?
- My Forever Family NSW offers training and support to adoptive parents
- The Adoption Information Unit (AIU) can assist with birth family contact and mediation, review of Adoption Plans, information sharing, immediate counseling and referrals. Download the Fact Sheet Services for adopted children under 18 years and their families for more detail about the AIU
- A means-tested adoption allowance is available for families on lower incomes. Download
Can I adopt if I am not already a foster carer?
If you do not already have a child in your care, some FACS accredited agencies offer ‘foster-to-adopt’ programs. This is where a person can become a long-term foster carer, with the possibility of being able to adopt the child in their care if it is considered in the child’s best interest.
Contact us to find out more