Skip to Content

The adoption process for birth parents

Information about signing the consent form for adoption, what to do if you change your mind, your child's name before and after adoption, what personal information you can give to your child, and your say in who the adoptive parents are.

Before you can consent to your child's adoption

You officially make an adoption decision for your child when you sign an Instrument of Consent, also known as the consent documents.

Before you can sign the consent documents, you will need to:

  • read mandatory information on adoption
  • see a registered (adoption) counsellor, who will ensure you understand the legal and emotional effects of adoption on you and your child.

Mandatory Written Information on adoption

Parents who are considering adoption for their child will receive a document called Mandatory Written Information on adoption - Information for parents to help them make an informed decision. Information provided in this document includes:

Additional information is available for parents considering adoption for their child who is currently in out-of-home care and those considering adoption by step parents or relatives (intrafamily adoption).

Parents who are considering the adoption of their child who is either Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander are required to read the following documents:

For Aboriginal parents

Written Information on adoption - Additional information for parents of an Aboriginal child
This booklet provides important information for parents who are considering the adoption of their child who is Aboriginal. It is to be read in addition to the Mandatory Written Information on adoption - Information for parents.

Written Information on intrafamily adoption - Additional information for parents of an Aboriginal child
This booklet provides important information for parents who are considering the adoption of their child who is Aboriginal. It is to be read in addition to the Mandatory Written Information on intrafamily adoption -  Information for parents.

Written Information on adoption - Additional information for parents of an Aboriginal child in out-of-home care
This booklet provides important information for parents who are considering the adoption of their child who is Aboriginal and is currently living in out-of-home care. It is to be read in addition to the Mandatory Written Information for parents of a child in out-of-home care.

For Torres Strait Islander parents

Written Information on adoption - Additional information for parents of a Torres Strait Islander child
This booklet provides important information for parents who are considering the adoption of their child who is Torres Strait Islander. It is to be read in addition to the Mandatory Written Information on adoption - Information for parents.

Written Information on intrafamily adoption - Additional information for parents of a Torres Strait Islander child
This booklet provides important information for parents who are considering the adoption of their child who is Torres Strait Islander. It is to be read in addition to the Mandatory Written Information on intrafamily adoption - Information for parents.

Written Information on adoption - Additional Information for parents of a Torres Strait Islander child in out-of-home care
This booklet provides important information for parents who are considering the adoption of their child who is Torres Strait Islander and is currently living in out-of-home care. It is to be read in addition to the Mandatory Written Information for parents of a child in out-of-home care.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents can receive more advice by contacting:

Adoption and Permanent Care Services
02 9716 3003
adoption.permanentcare@facs.nsw.gov.au

Giving consent

Both the birth mother and birth father must give consent for their child’s adoption. Both parents of a child have the same legal rights and, in most situations, both parents should be involved in the adoption (an exception to this is when the Court decides adoption is in the best interest of a child).

When a father is aware of the adoption plan, we encourage him to be involved in the same way as the mother. This means, assisting with legal documents, providing social and medical information and choosing adoptive parents. The father may see the adoption worker with the mother, or have separate meetings to explore his individual thoughts and feelings.

When the child to be adopted is 12 years old or older, and can understand what adoption is and what consenting to adoption means, they can consent to their own adoption. In such cases, you would not be asked to consent.

When all the required consents have been given, the Secretary of DCJ becomes your child's legal guardian.

If you want to revoke consent

After giving consent, you have 30 days to reconsider your decision. This is called a ‘revocation period’ and gives you some time to test out and consider being permanently separated from your child.

Your child is normally cared for by temporary foster parents while you are considering your options and during the 30 day revocation period. Your adoption worker can arrange for you to see your child during this period.

If you don't revoke your consent, and if your child is well, your child will be placed with prospective parents very soon after the revocation period has expired.

Your child’s name after adoption

If your child is newly born, you must register your baby's birth and name your baby. This will be the baby's legal name until the adoption order.

Adoption services will discuss with the adoptive parents the advantages of a child retaining their birth name. If the adoptive parents wish to add an extra middle name at the time of the adoption, this will be discussed with you. Usually your child’s surname will be changed to the adoptive parents’ surname.

The Adoption Act 2000 says that the given name of a child aged over 1 year old should not be changed.

A child who is over 12 years of age can choose their own names. Some choose to include their birth family's surname.

Information about you and other family members

People who have been adopted have a great need to know about their birth family – who they are, what they are like, their family medical history and the reasons for their adoption.

The adoption worker will ask you for personal information about you, your family and your family's health. The information you provide to DCJ may be included in a "Life Story", which is written for your child. This information will be in a non-identifying form, unless you have given your permission for identifying information to be provided to the adoptive parents and your child. You may participate in preparing this information.

Adoptive parents are expected to help children understand and learn about their adoption and are encouraged to tell the child they are adopted from an early age. The adoptive parents are also encouraged to share as much as possible about a child's birth parents, so the child has positive feelings about his or her birth family.

Your child’s adoptive family

People who want to adopt a child are thoroughly assessed by a DCJ approved independent assessor and they also receive training and education on adoption. Before people are approved as adopting parents, the adoption agency must be satisfied they have the ability to meet the particular needs of an adopted child.

The adoption worker will discuss with you the kind of family you would like your child to grow up in. You might have some strong feelings about religion, cultural background, or the lifestyle of the adoptive parents.

You may ask to meet your child's adoptive parents and this can be arranged. You may prefer just to be told a bit about the adopting parents and then receive ongoing news about your child's progress at regular intervals.

Your involvement in selecting the adoptive parents

It's important that the family chosen to adopt your child is able to provide for their individual needs.

You need to talk to the adoption worker about your child’s needs, the kind of family you want for your child and about your own family. This will help the worker identify the most suitable adoptive parents.

You can be part of the selection of the adoptive parents by looking at non-identifying ‘profiles’ prepared by adoptive parents that tell you about them, their home and their plans for parenting an adopted child.

Was this content useful?
Last updated: 24 Sep 2019