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Information for parents considering adoption of their child


If you are considering having your child raised by another family, it is important that you understand the choices for the care of your child, including adoption.

Adoption is permanent. It is important that you consider all options before making a decision.

This booklet is mainly about adoption, but it covers other ways of raising your child including caring for your child yourself.

Your adoption counsellor will assist you to understand this booklet and give information to help you decide about your child’s future.

Choices in bringing up your child

If you are thinking about adoption for your child, there are several different arrangements you might want to consider for raising your child. One of these arrangements may be best suited to you and your child.

These arrangements include:

  • raising the child yourself using supports and financial benefits available in your community.
  • temporary care by another family until you have set up living arrangements, income benefits and other supports.
  • stable and long-term care of your child by other parents who may have a legal order such as a parenting order. When these orders exist, they involve  transfer of some or all of your legal rights as a parent.

More details of these arrangements are given on the following pages. This booklet cannot give sufficient information for you to assess which choice will suit you best, as circumstances and preferences will not be the same for all parents. Your counsellor will be able to give more detailed information and discuss the benefits and difficulties of each choice as they apply in your situation.  

Assistance available in caring for your child yourself

You may feel that you are not able to raise your child yourself because you lack money or support. This, on its own, does not mean that you have to consider adoption.

Assistance and support are available to help parents care for and raise their child. This includes parenting support and day-care services, financial assistance, accommodation and education. Supporting parents’ benefits and housing schemes for single parents may be available or it may be possible to find suitable employment and use day-care services to care for your child.

A list of the types of support services is found at the end of this booklet. Your counsellor will give you names and addresses of services relevant to your situation.

Stable and long-term care other than adoption

The Family Court may grant a Parenting Order which formalises arrangements around all aspects of the parenting of the child. A Parenting Order has a number of components:

  • residence: who the child will live with
  • contact: who the child spends time and communicates with
  • specific issues: any other matter relevant to the child’s care, such as schooling or medical treatment.

The Parenting Order can be designed to suit the individual circumstances of the parties. The court will consider what is in the child’s best interests.

Any person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child may apply for a Parenting Order. The Family Court requires that when a person other than a parent makes an application, the parties must attend a conference with a family consultant, and the court considers a report by the consultant.

A Parenting Order does not affect the child’s birth certificate or inheritance rights, although the child’s name may be changed. Parenting Orders include obligations on the parties involved, and parties must comply with the terms of the order.

What is an adoption order

Adoption orders are usually granted in the County Court.

The granting of an adoption order means that the child’s adoptive parents become the legal parents.

The order affects the child’s:

  • name
  • birth certificate
  • inheritance rights.

Please note ‘natural parent’ is the terminology used in reference to a mother or father of the child being adopted.

The adoption order usually includes arrangements for contact between the child and the natural parent(s) or other relatives, and/or exchange of information about the child.

Application may be made to the court to establish or vary conditions around ongoing contact or information exchange.

An application to discharge an adoption order can be made if special circumstances exist or if a natural parent’s consent was obtained by improper means.

Adoption arrangements may only be made by Adoption Services.

Considering adoption for a child

Contact with an approved adoption counsellor

Parents considering adoption for their child usually approach an adoption service. Sometimes another person, for example, a hospital social worker, may make the initial enquiry and referral to the adoption service on behalf of the parents. The adoption service which will provide the counselling will then make direct contact with the parents.

Contact with the adoption service may take place before or after the child is born or when the child is older.

Contact with the adoption service is confidential.

When adoption consent is signed and becomes final, you give up all your rights and responsibilities as a parent.

Consent to adoption cannot be given until fourteen days have lapsed after the birth of the child. This booklet must be given to the parent(s) at least seven days before consent is signed. This is to make sure that you have enough time to think about all the information in this booklet and to consider the alternatives to adoption.

If you consent to the adoption of your child, it is important that you understand the effects of an adoption order, and that you make the decision without undue influence or pressure from any other person.

Once an adoption order is granted

The County Court makes decisions about adoption orders. The granting of an adoption order causes major legal changes affecting your relationship with your child, namely:


Adoption information services

Adoption information services are provided to eligible applicants. These services provide information regarding past adoptions and may also assist eligible applicants to find relatives from whom they have been separated by adoption.

A record of all applicants is kept on the Central Register. Adopted people, natural parents, adoptive parents, natural relatives and adult children of adopted persons may register their wishes regarding exchange of information or contact. They may also apply to receive information about the adoption.

Before information or documents are given to applicants, they will be offered counselling with an approved counsellor.

Adult adopted people receive a copy of the court records relating to their adoption (including a copy of their original birth certificate) and any records held by the agency who arranged the adoption.

Adopted people under the age of 18 years need both adoptive parents’ or guardian’s agreement in writing before obtaining any information. To obtain identifying information, they need the agreement of their natural parents as well.

Natural parents may obtain identifying information about the adult adopted person. If the adopted person is under eighteen years, the agreement of adoptive parents or guardian is required and views of the adopted child must be considered.

Adoptive parents may obtain information about the adopted person’s background, other than information from which a natural parent may be identified.

Relatives may initially only be given non-identifying information. Identifying information can be provided only with consent of the adult adopted person. If the adopted person is under eighteen years, the adoptive parents’ or guardian must agree and the adopted person’s wishes must be considered.

Adult children of adopted people have the same rights to information as adopted people. However, the adopted person must be informed of the enquiry or evidence of death of the adopted person provided.