Adoption in Australia

by Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers

Are you considering adoption? In Australia, the law surrounding adoption is a complex web of strict legislation and regulations. Having Sarah Bevan, our accredited family law specialist on your side can help you to navigate through this web to achieve the family that you have always dreamt of. Sarah has been practising family law including adoption law since 1999. If you are looking for experienced and knowledgeable adoption lawyers, then look no further and call Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers on 1300 00 SBFL (1300 007 235). Alternatively, email us at mail@sbfamilylawyers.com.au. 

What is adoption?

Adoption is the process by which the legal rights associated with parenting are transferred from one party to another.

Adoption officially occurs when an order known as an adoption order is made by the Supreme Court of New South Wales. This orders deems that all parental rights and responsibilities, guardianship and custody are transferred from the biological parents (or other party that currently has parental responsibility) to the adoptive parents.

When deciding whether to grant an adoption order, the Supreme Court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child. 

Adoption in NSW

The Adoption Act 2000(NSW) is the core legislation dealing with adoption in the state. It relates to both adoption and access to information regarding adoption.  The Department of Family and Community Services (also known as FACS) is the government department charged with dealing with adoptions in NSW. Apart from FACS, there are only a few agencies permitted to provide adoption services in New South Wales. These are Anglicare Adoption Services, Australian Families for Children (AFC), Barnardos Australia Adoptions (also known as Find-a-Family) and CatholicCare Adoption Services. 

Who can adopt?

According to the Adoption Act 2000 (NSW), an application for an adoption order can be made by one person or a couple. Same sex couples can also adopt in NSW.

The Adoption Process

The adoption process involves several steps and can take many years to successfully complete. Each of the above agencies will have slightly different processes, however their bases are all the same.

The first step is to express your interest in an adoption program. This is done by completing an expression of interest form for the agency, which you wish to adopt from.

Next, you will attend a seminar providing general information about adoption in NSW.

The agency will then consider your expression of interest to find out whether you are eligible to be an adoptive parent. If they find that you are, they will invite you to attend a further seminar. This seminar will aim to prepare you for adoption. You may be required to attend additional seminar sessions if you are applying to adopt an older child or a child with special needs.

Once this has been successfully completed, you submit an application and undergo an assessment to be approved as adoptive parents. The agency will have strict criteria, which must be fulfilled for your assessment to be successful. For example, one of the agencies states that you must cease all treatments for infertility prior to submitting a formal application to adopt. Further, infertility treatment cannot resume while an adoption application is active. 

Intercountry Adoption

Intercountry adoption is the adoption of a child from a country, which you, the adoptive parents are not a resident, or citizen of. An example of an intercountry adoption is when an Australian couple adopts a child from Indonesia.

Australia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. The Hague Adoption Convention is an international agreement, which governs the protection of children and co-operation of countries in respect of intercountry adoption. Similarly to the Australian law governing adoption, this convention’s guiding principle is that the best interests of the child are the primary concern. This means that before an intercountry adoption is even contemplated, the authorities responsible for adoption in the child’s country of origin must ensure that there is no possibility of placing the child in a home in their own country of origin.

If you decide that you would like to the take the intercountry adoption route, then it is so important that you seek professional legal guidance from Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers. Not only will you have to abide by the law in the State or Territory which you reside, you will also have to be mindful of the requirements and criteria for adoption in each country which you consider. Sarah Bevan has international law experience 

Known Child Adoption (also known as Intrafamily Adoption)

Known child adoption refers to adoption where the adoptive parents have a pre-existing relationship with the adoptive child. An example of this is a step-parent, relative or carer legally adopting a child they already care for. There are specific rules that apply to these types of adoptions. For example, a court will only consider making an adoption order in favour of a step-parent if the following four conditions have been met.

  1. The child is at least 5 years old, and
  2. The step parent has continuously lived with the child and their birth parent for at least 2 years prior to their application, and
  3. The birth parent/s have given consent to the adoption, and
  4. The court is of the opinion that the adoption is in the best interests of the child.

 

If you, or someone you know is considering adoption, then you should seek quality legal advice. Due to the complexity of the process and the many rules and regulations that govern it, it is important to have a legal specialist, like Sarah Bevan there to guide you on your way. Whether you are a step-parent, or relative hoping to adopt a child who is already in your care or whether you are striving for intercountry adoption, Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers can assist you. With almost 20 years domestic and international experience under her belt, Sarah will be able to guide you on your journey to becoming a parent.  To take the first step to parenthood, call our Adoption Laywers now on 1300 00 SBFL (1300 007 235) or email us at mail@sbfamilylawyers.com.au



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