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I want to Adopt – What do I have to do?

There are a number of reasons why adoption may be in the best interests of a child. These include if a child is no longer able to live with their birth family due to family, social or medical reasons or if a child is living in a blended family and the parents and child wish to formalise their relationship.

The laws about adoption are found in State not Commonwealth Legislation. This means that whilst your family law matter would be heard by the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court under the Family Law Act, an Application for Adoption needs to be commenced in the Supreme Court under the Adoption Act.

If you wish to apply for adoption we can help you commence proceedings in the ACT Supreme Court or the Supreme Court of the state or territory in which you live. If you live in the ACT there may also be an option to ask the Family Court to exercise jurisdiction under state legislation (because the ACT is a territory not a state – long story)

If order to apply for adoption there are a few requirements that you have to meet and/or consider.

  • Both of the child’s birth parents (sometimes called natural or biological parents) need to consent to the adoption. If one or more parents are either unidentifiable, deceased or unable to consent for medical or other reasons, this requirement may be waived.
  • The person who is the biological parent for the child needs to sign a consent declaration. There is a cooling off period involved where that person can revoke their consent before any Orders are made.
  • The applicant for adoption must be on the Register of Suitable People. You will need to apply to community services to do this and we can help you with this process.
  • You cannot be in a domestic partnership if you wish to apply for adoption as a sole applicant. If you are in a domestic partnership you and your partner will both need to apply for adoption.
  • There are extra considerations involved in the process if the child has any Indigenous heritage. If this is the case you should speak to you solicitor.
  • Your place of residence is an important part of the adoption process. If you are someone who moves interstate a lot for work purposes, or you have spent time living overseas your solicitor can help you determine your place of residence.
  • You may need to be a relative of the child who is being considered for adoption.
  • The court needs to find that adoption and the redefinition of the child’s family relationships is in the best interests of the child.
  • The court needs to find that the adoption would be preferable over another Order relating to guardianship or custody.

What paperwork is involved?

Your solicitor will help you lodge an application with the court. Alongside the application you will need to give notice to the biological parents and then receive their consent.

A report containing recommendations regarding the application is also required.

There will be fees involved with the court application and report. Once the application is lodged, the Court will provide Orders either granting or not granting the adoption.

Once the adoption is finalised it is important to remember that the biological parents still have the right to apply to the FCC or Family Court for parenting orders, (but with a different set of considerations as they would no longer be the child’s legal parents).

Adoption can be a fairly complicated process so if you are considering adopted a child you should contact one of our solicitors. Your solicitor can help you gain a greater understanding of the whole process before you begin a court application.