Adoption refers to transferring of all legal rights and responsibilities associated with being a parent, from the child’s biological parents to the parents adopting the child. Adoption services in NSW are provided by the Family and Community Services, otherwise commonly known as FACS.
Types of Adoption
There are a number of different types of ways to adopt such as:
- Local adoption – adopting a child from NSW
- Out-of-home care adoption – adopting a child in NSW from out-of-home care (including foster care)
- Intercountry adoption – adopting a child from overseas
- Special needs adoption – adopting a child with a disability or special needs
- Intrafamily adoption – adopting a step-child or a child within your family.
Requirements and Processes
Adopting a child involves a comprehensive process and adopting parents are encouraged to familiarise themselves with various services provided by FACS and to ensure that they meet the requirements. There are specific requirements such as:
- The person’s health, including emotional, physical and mental health;
- The person’s age and maturity;
- The person’s skills and life experience, in relation to the person’s ability to undertake parenting tasks and attend to the specific needs of an adopted child;
- The person’s capacity to provide a stable, secure and beneficial emotional and physical environment during the child’s upbringing until the child reaches social and emotional independence;
- The person’s financial circumstances, in relation to the person’s capacity to adequately provide for the child’s needs;
- The person’s capacity to support the maintenance of the child’s cultural identity and religious faith (if any);
- The person’s appreciation of the importance of and capacity to facilitate: contact with the child’s birth parents and family, and exchange of information about the child with the child’s birth parents and family;
- The general stability of the person’s character and the person’s criminal history (if any);
- The stability and quality of the person’s relationship with his or her spouse (if any) and between the person, his or her spouse (if any) and other members of the person’s family and household;
- The criminal history (if any) of the person’s spouse (if any) and other members of the person’s household;
- If the person has had the care of a child before the application, whether the person has shown an ability to provide a stable, secure and beneficial emotional and physical environment for the child.
These requirements are based on the needs of an adopted child and the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration in any adoption decision.
In relation to local and/or intercountry adoptions, prospective adopting parents need to initially file an expression of interest (EOI) form.
The EOI will be screened by FACS to determine whether it is likely that a person will meet the criteria for adoptive parents.
Once a determination is made in relation to the EOI, the first-time applicants to the local or intercountry programs are required to attend a Preparation for Adoption Seminar, which is held over two days in Sydney.
All prospective adoptive parents must attend an additional one-day seminar if their application concerns an adopting older children, a permanent care placement or children who have special needs.
Upon completion of the seminars and having provided all the relevant documents and payment of fees, the application is referred for assessment.
The assessment reflects the legislative requirements of the Adoption Act (NSW) 2000 and usually takes 3-4 months.
The completed assessment report and a recommendation from the assessor is then forwarded to the Manager Caseworker Adoption & Permanent Care (in case of local adoptions), or to the overseas adoption program for consideration (in case of intercountry adoption), who will determine the suitability to adopt.
If approved, the adopting parents’ names are entered on the FACS Register of approved adopting parents and made eligible for a placement. The length of time taken to introduce a child to his/her adoptive family will be determined on an individual basis to ensure the process is suitable for the individual child’s circumstances and in their best interest.
The final step in the process requires an application being lodged with the Supreme Court of NSW which effectively makes an adoption order.
Adoptions in NSW can only occur through FACS or an accredited adoption service provider. FACS is currently the only agency in NSW which can arrange intercountry adoptions. Private adoption arrangements are illegal and there are penalties for all involved in such arrangements.
Freedman & Gopalan has expertise in representing our clients in Adoption matters in New South Wales. If you want to discuss an adoption matter, contact our offices on 02 8917 8700 in order to arrange a time to meet with our team.