Adoptions before 2010: applying if you're 18 or over
How to find information about past adoptions that occurred before 2010, for people with and without direct entitlement, and are age 18 or older.
Applying for adoption information if you're 18 or over
An adopted person who is 18 years and over and their birth parents (as recorded on their original birth certificate) are the only people who have a direct entitlement to apply for identifying details and information about each other under the provisions of the NSW Adoption Act 2000 and NSW Adoption Regulation 2003. Other people can apply in certain circumstances however, this first requires the approval of the Secretary of Communities and Justice (DCJ).
If you wish to obtain identifying information about a birth parent or adopted person you'll first need to download and complete the application to obtain adoption information form. As of 1 July 2022 all fees have been removed, and DCJ will no longer be seeking fees for any adoption application. By completing the application form you can gain access to the following:
- Adoption Information Certificate
This certificate has identifying details of all the parties at the time of the adoption. This includes the adopted person, birth parents and adoptive parents.
Note: If you have an original or amended birth certificate under the Adoption Information Act 1990, or a Supply Authority under the Adoption Act 2000, to access this information, you do not need an Adoption Information Certificate.
- Reunion and Information Register
The Reunion and Information Register (RIR) was established to assist people who have been separated by an adoption to exchange messages or to make contact with one another. It's a passive form of contact and relies on 2 parties joining for a reunion to have a match on the register.
- Social and medical information
Social and medical information is information ‘prescribed’ under the Adoption Act 2000. This is information held by an information source and may include background information about birth family members, medical history, reasons for adoption and other information ‘prescribed’ under the Act. This is information recorded at the time of the adoption. It's not current information.
Note: This is a complex process that involves checking a number of records, carrying out research, ordering files from archives and compiling the appropriate information. While we attempt to process this for you as quickly as possible, it can take some time to complete.
Information for birth fathers
If you are a father whose child has been adopted in NSW, you must be an acknowledged birth father, meaning that your name has been recorded on the child’s Original Birth Certificate before you can apply for an Adoption Information Certificate.
Although in the past the names of many fathers were not recorded on the Original Birth Certificate, it may be possible for a Presumption of Paternity to be completed. Staff in the Adoption Information Unit would be pleased to discuss your options with you.
Information for relatives and others with close relationships
DCJ has the discretion to issue an authority to obtain identifying information to relatives or people without a direct entitlement under the Adoption Act 2000, where it's reasonable to do so. For more information, see access adoption information if you don’t have a direct entitlement.
If you are the relative, spouse, de-facto or another person who had a close relationship with a now deceased birth parent or deceased adopted person, you are able to apply to be considered to inherit the right to obtain access to some of the information that would have been available to them. For more information, see inheriting a deceased person's right to adoption information.
How to prevent contact
If the adoption was made before 26 October 1990, and you are an adopted person or birth parent, you can prevent contact from the other party by registering a Contact Veto. The Contact Veto only prevents contact. It does not prevent the release of identifying information about the people involved in the adoption.
How to delay contact
Birth parents, adopted people over the age of 17 years and 6 months and adoptive parents may wish to delay the release of identifying information for 2 months, giving them time to prepare for possible contact. This is possible through the Advance Notice Register.
If you're a person with disability applying for entitlements
People with a disability are not disadvantaged in their right to apply for their entitlements under the Act. If you require any assistance please contact the Adoption Information Unit. Another person with a proper interest in the matter can apply to the Guardianship Tribunal for:
- the tribunal to consider whether the person with entitlements under the Act has a disability or condition making it impossible or unreasonable for them to exercise their rights, and
- if this is so, to appoint someone to exercise the rights on behalf of the person with a disability. If the appointed person finds there is a veto attached to the release of information, they must be able to guarantee that the person with the disability will not attempt to contact the person who placed the veto, otherwise the information will not be released.
2a Rowntree Street
Balmain NSW 2041
02 9556 7600
toll free 1800 463 928
Some adoptions were arranged privately by a solicitor or an adoption agency. In these cases DCJ usually only holds very limited information. Detailed social and medical information may be gained by applying directly to the agency that arranged the adoption.
Many of these agencies also offer intermediary and support services to adopted people and birth parents. Here is a list of agencies, hospitals and other services that can offer information and support.
Adoption Information Unit (AIU)
Department of Communities and Justice
Locked Bag 5000, Parramatta NSW 2124
1300 799 023 or +61 2 9716 3005 (from overseas)
Post Adoption Resource Centre (PARC)
Level 5, 7–11 The Avenue, Hurstville NSW 2220
1300 659 814
Adoptions finalised in other states