Access to adoption information for birth fathers
The process for birth fathers applying for adoption information varies depending on whether you are named on the child’s original birth certificate (OBC).
If the father is named on an adopted person’s OBC or there is sufficient information to presume he is the father under law, then he is a birth parent under the Adoption Act and he can apply for identifying information about the adopted person.
If you were not married to your child’s birth mother at the time of the adoption, you will only be named on the OBC if you signed the birth registration form. In the majority of cases, fathers are not named – this reflects unfortunate practices at the time of the adoption.
You may wish to contact the Department of Family and Community Services (DCJ) Adoption Information Unit (AIU) to clarify your rights to adoption information.
Putative birth fathers
A putative birth father is a father whose name is not recorded on their child’s OBC or Memorandum of Adoption Order (MOA) or cannot be presumed to be the birth father.
In relation to historical past adoption practices in NSW, the majority of birth fathers of children who were subsequently adopted were not named on the OBC of their child.
For a putative birth father to obtain information about his child’s adoption in NSW, he will need to be presumed as the father under law.
Becoming a presumed birth father – presumption of paternity
Putative birth fathers can request a presumption of paternity. Under the Status of Children Act 1996 there are a number of ways in which this may be possible:
- If you are in contact with your child’s birth mother and she is prepared to help you, you can approach the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages to have your details added to your child’s OBC
- DCJ may be able to make a ‘presumption of paternity’ in your favour if you have acknowledged yourself as the father and the birth mother has signed a document naming you as the father on the adoption file or another record created at the time of the child’s birth or adoption. If another agency handled the adoption, we will let you know how to contact them.
- Where a presumption of paternity has been made, you will be informed of how you can apply for identifying information about your child
- An application form from the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages will be included should you wish to have your name entered on your child’s OBC.
Throughout this process you will be supported by a DCJ caseworker at the Adoption Information Unit. If a presumption of paternity cannot be made in your situation, you can discuss possible options with the caseworker.
Caseworkers are also available to discuss issues related to making contact with the adopted person or about adoption in general.
There is no fee for a request for a presumption of paternity.