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An adoption order is made by the NSW Supreme Court, to legally transfer all parental rights and responsibilities, guardianship and custody from the child's birth parents (or anyone who has parental responsibility for the child) to the adoptive parents.

The Court must consider adoption to be in the ‘best interests’ of the child both in childhood and in later life to grant an adoption order. This means that they must consider adoption to be the better option in relation to the care of the child than any other legal action.

What is the effect of an adoption order?

Post-adoptive birth certificate

Once an adoption order is made, the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages issues a post-adoptive birth certificate for the child.

This certificate records the child's adoptive parents as if the child were born to them. It makes no reference to the child's birth parents unless one of them becomes the child's adoptive parent (as may occur in a step-parent adoption).

The original birth certificate with details of the child's birth parents can no longer be used for legal purposes.

In August 2020, the Adoption Legislation Amendment (Integrated Birth Certificates) Bill 2020 was introduced to NSW parliament. The Bill introduces Integrated Birth Certificates (IBCs) to NSW.

An IBC is a new form of birth certificate that includes information about an adopted person’s parents and siblings at birth, as well as their parents and siblings after adoption. DCJ view this change as a positive reflection of contemporary open adoption practice.

Given that the legislation is yet to be enacted, limited information about the changes is available at this time. Please refer to the Introducing Integrated Birth Certificates Fact Sheet, for further details.

Should you have any questions, you are encouraged to speak with a staff member at Adoption and Permanency Services, by contacting the Open Adoption Hotline on 1800 003 227, or you can submit an online enquiry here.

Access and contact

Open adoption encourages that, wherever possible, an adopted child is connected to their birth family and cultural heritage.

An Adoption Plan is a written document that sets out an agreement between the people involved in an adoption about:

  • how contact with members of the child’s birth family will occur to provide opportunities to build relationships
  • how information will be shared between the birth family and adoptive family
  • how the child will be supported to develop a healthy and positive cultural identity and foster links with their heritage.

Your registered Adoption Plan can be reviewed by the Supreme Court if the arrangements are no longer suitable and you cannot reach an agreement with the birth parents about contact.


When an adoption order is made, the child automatically has a right to inheritance from their adoptive parents. However, the child loses the right to inherit from members of their birth family unless the child is specifically mentioned in their will.

Inheritance matters should be discussed with a solicitor.

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Last updated: 23 Sep 2020