Out-of-home care adoption
Find out more about the process of adopting a child who is in out-of-home care or in your foster care, and the out-of-home care adoption allowance.
About out-of-home care adoption
Every child and young person deserves the chance to have a permanent home for life where they can feel loved and secure.
Under the Permanency Support Program introduced in October 2017, a child or young person will have a case plan with a goal to have a safe and permanent home within 2 years of entering care. Where returning to their birth family or guardianship to a relative, kin or other suitable person is not practicable or in the best interests of the child or young person, open adoption will be considered.
In the case of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child or young person placements should be in accordance with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Young Person Placement Principles in the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998.
Reasons carers might want to adopt a child in their care
Adoption is often seen as a way of making a lifelong emotional and practical commitment to the child or young person in care. Carers who become adoptive parents have said that they feel more free to love the child completely, and that they are not so concerned about the possibility of having to ‘let go’ of the child. Carers who adopt have also been glad that they are entitled to make all parental decisions about the child, until the child reaches adulthood.
Where a child has special medical or educational needs, having full parental authority gives the adoptive parents the exclusive “say” in planning and making decisions for the child, without the need to consult with their agency every time there is a significant medical or educational decision to be made.
Adoption grants all the rights and responsibilities of parenthood to the adoptive parents, who will then be in every way responsible for the child throughout their childhood. The child will have the same status in the family as any of their other children, and will be entitled to the benefits of full family membership throughout their life.
Who can initiate the adoption process?
The possibility of adoption can be raised by you, the child, the birth family or the child’s caseworker. You can raise adoption during an annual case plan meeting, home visit or by phone/email to the child’s caseworker.
If you have direct contact with birth family members, be aware that adoption may not have been discussed with them yet. Adoption is a major decision, and it is important to be sensitive to the feelings of the birth parents. Discussions with birth parents about adoption are usually initiated by the child’s caseworker.
Who is required to give consent to adoption?
For children under the parental responsibility of the Minister, their individual family circumstances will determine whose consent is required.
The consent of the birth parents and the Minister is required when:
- the child is under 12 years of age, or
- the child (age 12-18) has been in the care of the prospective adoptive parents for less than 2 years, or
- the child (age 12-18) is deemed to not have sufficient maturity to give consent.
The consent of the child is required if the child is aged 12 years or over and is deemed to have sufficient maturity to give consent.
Process of adopting a child in care
The process of adopting a child in out-of-home care is explained in detail in the Information for authorised carers on out-of-home care adoption factsheet.
Information is also available for:
- Parents of a child in foster care
- Foster carers with shared parental responsibility of a child in foster care
- Children and young people 12 or more years old
- Adoption and Aboriginal children
- Adoption and Torres Strait Islander children
- Reviewable decisions following application to adopt Factsheet
Authorised carers applying to adopt a child or young person in their care are required to participate in a Preparation for OOHC adoption seminar before they can progress to the next stage in the process.
Preparation for OOHC adoption seminars represents an important way for carers to learn about adoption and providing a ‘home for life’ for the child in their care. This requirement recognises that carers who make the decision to adopt a child or young person in their care deserve the best possible information to support their decision to give a ‘home for life’ for the child in their care.
To find out more about open adoption from out-of-home care contact:
- your caseworker
- DCJ Adoption Services on 02 9716 3003 or
- one of the NSW non-government adoption agencies offering adoption services.
The Fostering NSW website also provides some valuable information about open adoption from care and eligibility requirements.
Out-of-home care adoption allowance
In March 2017 the NSW Government announced its commitment to provide more children and young people with a safe and stable home through open adoption (unless the child or young person is Aboriginal), including the introduction of a means-tested adoption allowance.
This allowance aims to help people who are considering the adoption of a child in their care, but who might require financial support to meet the child’s needs.
The adoption allowance acknowledges the higher costs associated with children in out-of-home care who require ongoing – and sometimes intensive – support to meet their educational, social, physical and emotional health needs.
Access to the allowance is linked to eligibility to receive Family Tax Benefit Part A.