When children in care are adopted
Your child can be adopted if they are in out-of-home care. Read more about the process, consent and court requirements, including how to stop an adoption order.
What will change if my child is adopted
Adoption permanently transfers all parental rights and responsibilities to the adoptive parents. If a child in foster care is adopted by his carers, the carers will become the legal parents and will be able to make decisions about the child such as education, medical treatment, religion or where the child lives. Once the child is adopted, the law won't see you as the child's parent anymore. The adoptive parents will also be responsible for organising your contact with the child and they will decide if the child surname will be changed.
FACS or any other agency that organised the foster care for your child won’t be involved in your child’s care anymore.
It is important to remember that once an adoption order is made, you won’t be able to ask the Court to order that your children come back to your care.
What does it mean that adoption is the plan for my child
The Children’s Court can’t make an adoption order. So if your child has recently been removed from your care and you are going through the Children’s Court, an adoption order won’t be made in the Children’s Court.
FACS might tell the Children’s Court that adoption is the plan for your child in the future. This means that FACS think that adoption would be a good idea for your child in the future, and they may be placed with carers who would be willing to adopt.
If your child has recently been removed from your care, the proceedings in the Children’s Court need to be finalised before any plans for the adoption of your child can start. This can take quite a while. Adoption orders can only be made by the Supreme Court. The Children’s Court can’t make an adoption order.
If you plan to make changes to your life so that your child can be returned to you, it is really important that you do this as quickly as possible. Once an adoption order is made, it will not be possible for your child to be returned to your care.
Do they need my consent?
If a child is under 12 years of age the birth parent must be asked if they agree to the adoption of their child. You should talk to your caseworker or lawyer about whether you want to consent to the adoption or not.
Your caseworker will discuss your options with you and can give you some information to help you make the decision. You will receive two documents containing more information about the legal process of adoption as well as the emotional effects:
- Mandatory Written Information on adoption
- Mandatory Written Information on adoption - Information for parents of a child in out-of-home care
If your child is 12 years of age or over and can understand what adoption is and what consenting to adoption means, they can consent to their own adoption and you won’t be asked to consent.
What if I don't consent?
The Supreme Court might still decide that your child should be adopted if the judge thinks that adoption is in the best interests of the child and go ahead with the adoption order without your consent.
You have a right to oppose the adoption in court.
Even if your child is over 12 and you are not asked to consent, you can still take part to the Court case and tell your caseworker or the Court if you don’t think adoption is a good idea for your child.
Court action has started for the adoption of my child
If you’ve received a notice saying that court action has started for the adoption of your child, you need to decide whether you want to oppose the adoption order in Court. You should talk to a lawyer about what to do.
The Court will listen to your views and opinions, but will make a decision based on what is best for your child.
How do I oppose the adoption order
If you decide to oppose the order in court, you have 14 days from the day you get the notice to file a form called an Appearance in the Supreme Court.
Your lawyer or Legal Aid NSW can help you to fill out the Appearance form.
The address of the Supreme Court is:
Supreme Court of New South Wales
Law Courts Building
184 Phillip Street
SYDNEY NSW AUSTRALIA 2000
The Registrar, Equity Division
Supreme Court of NSW
GPO Box 3
SYDNEY NSW AUSTRALIA 2001
You should give the Court 2 copies, and ask the Court to give a ‘sealed’ (which means stamped) copy back to you.
When the Appearance form has been filed, the Court will let you know the date when the case will be in court.
The case won’t be decided on the first date, it is really important you go to court on that date. You will get a chance to tell the Court what you think about the adoption and give your own evidence.
If you don’t file the Appearance form within 14 days and if you don't go to court on the date of the case, the Court might make the adoption order without hearing from you.