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People consider adoption for all kinds of reasons. If you are thinking about adopting a child, we can help.

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What is adoption?

The word adopt means “to choose and accept as one’s own”. Adoption is a legal process where the legal rights and responsibilities for a child are transferred from the child’s parents to the adoptive parent(s). In New South Wales, adoption orders are made by the Supreme Court.

Some of the key objects and principles of the Adoption Act 2000 include:

  • the best interests of the child, both in childhood and later life must be the main consideration
  • adoption is a service for the child rather than the right of an adult hoping to adopt them
  • the child or young person is to be assisted to know and have access to their birth family and culture
  • the child’s given name or names, identity, language and cultural and religious ties should, when possible, be identified and preserved
  • openness is to be encouraged in adoption including the applicants’ attitudes towards birth family members and contact
  • the making of an adoption order must be clearly preferable to any other action that can be taken by law.

Following an adoption order the child will become a legal member of the adoptive family and:

  • have the same rights and responsibilities as any other child in the adoptive family
  • can take, and legally use, the adoptive family’s last name
  • will have an automatic right to inherit the property of the adoptive parents, just like any other children in the adoptive family
  • their adoptive parents will be able to make all the parental decisions about the child’s upbringing
  • will no longer be under the parental responsibility of the Minister for Communities and Justice (DCJ).

Birth parents will always have a biological and emotional connection with their child, but after adoption, they stop being legally related to them. Although the legal relationship changes, it does not need to stop them from having a relationship or an ongoing connection with their child.

Adoption that occurs today is called ‘open’ adoption.

Who can adopt?

An adoption order for a child can be made for a single person or a couple. A couple includes two persons who are married to one another or are de facto partners (whether of the same sex or of a different sex).

Adoptive applicants must be:

  • resident or domiciled in NSW
  • of good repute and fit and proper to fulfil the responsibilities of parenting
  • over 21 years of age
  • at least 18 years older than the child to be adopted.

What are the different types of adoption?

There are different types of adoption that you might be considering:

  • Local adoption - adopting a child from NSW whose parents are making an adoption decision for their child.
  • Out-of-home care adoption - foster carers in NSW adopting the child in their care.
  • Out-of-home care dual authorisation - a process where people are assessed, trained and authorised to become both foster carers and adoptive parents at the same time. Dually authorised carers may adopt a child in NSW where the Children’s Court has determined the child cannot live with their family.
  • Intercountry adoption - adopting a child from overseas.
  • Special needs adoption - adopting a child with a disability or special needs.
  • Intrafamily adoption - adopting a  step-child or a child within your family.

For more information and support contact:

Adoption Services
02 9716 3003

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Last updated: 21 Feb 2022