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Adoptions before 2010
Where the adopted person is under 18 years of age
Although birth parents and adopted people have the legal right to identifying information from the time of the adopted person's 18th birthday, it is often possible to make contact with each other earlier.
This requires the permission of the adoptive parents or guardian and the willingness of the adopted person and birth parents to be contacted.
Even if it has been a while since families were last in contact or contact has never happened, it is often possible for the Adoption Information Unit to obtain and pass on current information. See How to apply for adoption information while an adopted person is under 18 years of age.
Where the adopted person is over 18 years
An adopted person (18 years and over) and their birth parents (as recorded on their original birth certificate) are the only people who have a direct entitlement to apply for identifying details and information about each other under the provisions of the NSW Adoption Act 2000 and NSW Adoption Regulation 2003. Other people can apply in certain circumstances however, this first requires the approval of the Secretary. Please refer to the section on information for relatives and others with close relationships.
If you wish to obtain identifying information about a birth parent or adopted person you will first need to download and complete the application to obtain adoption information form. By completing the application form you can gain access to the following:
- Adoption Information Certificate This certificate has identifying details of all the parties at the time of the adoption. This includes the adopted person, birth parents and adoptive parents.
- Social and medical information
Social and medical information is information ‘prescribed’ under the Adoption Act 2000. This is information held by an information source and may include background information about birth family members, medical history, reasons for adoption and other information ‘prescribed’ under the Act. This is information recorded at the time of the adoption. It is not current information. Note: This is a complex process which involves checking a number of records, research, ordering files from archives and compiling the appropriate information. We do attempt to process this for you as quickly as possible but this can take some time to complete.
- Registration on the Reunion and Information Register The Reunion and Information Register (RIR) was established to assist people who have been separated by an adoption to exchange messages or to make contact with one another. It is a passive form of contact and relies on two parties joining for a reunion to have a match on the register.
If you are a birth parent or an adopted person, there is no fee for applying for adoption information using this form with the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS).
If you have an original or amended birth certificate under the Adoption Information Act 1990, or a Supply Authority under the Adoption Act, to access this information, you do not need an Adoption Information Certificate.
Information for birth fathers
If you are a father whose child has been adopted in NSW, you must be an acknowledged birth father, meaning that your name has been recorded on the child’s Original Birth Certificate before you can apply for an Adoption Information Certificate. Although in the past many fathers' names were not recorded on the Original Birth Certificate, it may be possible for a Presumption of Paternity to be completed. Staff in the Adoption Information Unit would be pleased to discuss your options with you.
Information for relatives and others with close relationships
FACS has the discretion to issue an authority to obtain identifying information to relatives or people without a direct entitlement under the Adoption Act 2000, where it is reasonable to do so. For more information see access adoption information if you don’t have a direct entitlement.
If you are the relative, spouse, de-facto or another person who had a close relationship with a now deceased birth parent or deceased adopted person, you are able to apply to be considered to inherit the right to obtain access to some of the information that would have been available to them. For more information, see inheriting a deceased person’s rights to adoption information.
How to prevent contact
Contact Veto Register – If the adoption was made before 26 October 1990, and you are an adopted person or birth parent, you can prevent contact from the other party by registering a Contact Veto. The Contact Veto only prevents contact. It does not prevent the release of identifying information about the people involved in the adoption.
How to delay contact
Advance Notice Register – Birth parents, adopted people over the age of 17 years and 6 months and adoptive parents may register if they wish to delay the release of identifying information for two months, giving them time to prepare for possible contact.
If you are a person with a disability applying for your entitlements
People with a disability are not disadvantaged in their right to apply for their entitlements under the Act. If you require any assistance please contact the AIU. Another person with a proper interest in the matter can apply to the Guardianship Tribunal for:
- the tribunal to consider whether the person with entitlements under the Act has a disability or condition making it impossible or unreasonable for them to exercise their rights, and
- if this is so, to appoint someone to exercise the rights on behalf of the person with a disability. If the appointed person finds there is a veto attached to the release of information, they must be able to guarantee that the person with the disability will not attempt to contact the person who placed the veto, otherwise the information will not be released.
Guardianship Tribunal contact details:
2a Rowntree Street
Balmain NSW 2041
Phone 02 9556 7600 or toll free 1800 463 928
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)
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
Adoptions finalised in other states