Adoption search guide – adoptions before 2010

Where an adopted person is over 18 years of age

Things to consider before starting your search

For many years, adoption practices throughout Australia were dominated by the belief that secrecy was essential to protect all parties involved. It was felt that birth parents and adopted persons did not need information about each other. This thinking was based on two myths: that parents would forget their birth child and that an adopted person would not seek information or make contact with their birth parent(s) if they really loved their adoptive parents.

On 20 September 2012, the NSW Government apologised for past forced adoption practises in NSW. The Apology acknowledged the legacy of separation and the ongoing grief and loss in the lives of individual and families who were involved.

It is now widely recognised that adult adopted persons and birth parents have a right to information about each other. Research indicates that disclosure of information does not disrupt otherwise happy adoptive families – rather, it may promote greater understanding between the parties involved.

All parties to an adoption will have their own expectations of, and feelings towards, the information gathering and search process. Click to read about some common experiences.

How to search for more information

An Adoption Search Guide is available for people who want to apply for information about a past adoption or are considering searching for a family member. 

With your Adoption Information Certificate, adopted persons are able to apply for the Original Birth Certificate (issued before the adoption). If you have a birth sibling who has also been adopted and is not an adult, you can obtain identifying information about them and their adoptive family. You are also able to access additional information from the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages about your sibling.

If you are a birth parent you are able to apply for the Original Birth Certificate (issued before the adoption) and the Amended Birth Certificate (issued after the adoption).

Adopted persons and birth parents are also able to conduct searches for marriage and death records. To do this, you need to apply directly to the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages and include certified copies of your Adoption Information Certificate and identification documents. The Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages will only search records of the State or Territory that you lodge an application with. Therefore it is suggested that you search in the State or Territory in which the person was born (for birth certificates) or where they were last known to reside (for marriage and death searches).

The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Adoption Enquiries
Phone:                13 77 88
Website:              www.bdm.nsw.gov.au
Email:                  bdm-webmail@agd.nsw.gov.au
Sydney Office:      35 Regent Street, Chippendale NSW 2008
                          GPO Box 30, Sydney NSW 2001
Parramatta Office: Justice Precinct Offices, 
                          160 Marsden Street, Parramatta
                          NSW 2150
Newcastle Office:  95 Tudor Street, Hamilton NSW 2303

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If you do not obtain a result at any stage, or you are uncertain how to proceed, consult the Adoption Information Unit or the Post Adoption Resource Centre (PARC) for further advice.

FACS Adoption Information Unit (AIU)
Phone: 1300 799 023
+61 2 9716 3005 (from overseas)
Email: adoption.information@facs.nsw.gov.au
Address: Locked Bag 4028, Ashfield NSW 2131

Post Adoption Resource Centre (PARC)
Phone: 1300 659 814
Street address: Level 5, 7–11 The Avenue, Hurstville NSW 2220

Sources of information and support

There are many adoption and support agencies that can provide further information – click to view a list of agencies and contact details.

The next steps after you have completed your search and have contact details

Now that you have completed your search and have possible address/es for the person you are searching for, we strongly advise that you carefully consider your approach. Click for more information about making contact, what might happen after initial contact has been made, the first meeting and developing an ongoing relationship after the first meeting.

For further information

FACS Adoption Information Unit (AIU)
Provides adoption information and support for individuals and their families.

Phone:            1300 799 023
                     +61 2 9716 3005 (from overseas
Email:              adoption.information@facs.nsw.gov.au
Address:          Locked Bag 4028, 
                      Ashfield NSW 2131
Street Address: 4-6 Cavill Avenue, Ashfield NSW 2131

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)