Adoption process for adoptive applicants

1. Initial enquiry

The first step to begin the adoption process is to understand FACS adoption procedures and requirements, and some of the issues facing adoptive parents and adopted children. This information is included in our Thinking About Adoption booklet.

When you have considered this information and want to learn more, complete the Adoption Information Package order form (included in the booklet) and return it to FACS’ Adoption Services with the relevant fee.

If you are considering the adoption of a child in your care, please also speak with their caseworker.

2. EOI for inclusion in adoption programs – local and/or intercountry

The Adoption Information Package includes the information booklet ‘Considering Adoption’ and an expression of interest (EOI) form. When you have read ‘Considering Adoption’, you may wish to  complete the EOI form and return it to FACS.

Your EOI will be screened to see if it is likely that you meet the criteria for adoptive parents.

3. Preparation for adoption seminar

If you are first-time applicants to the local or intercountry programs, you are required to attend a Preparation for Adoption Seminar. These two-day seminars are held in Sydney.

You must attend an additional one-day seminar if you are applying for adoption of older children, a permanent care placement or children who have special needs.

4. Formal application for adoption

When you complete the preparation for adoption seminar, you will be given an adoption application kit.  When you return this application to FACS, ensure you include all the required information, evidence, documents and the lodgement fee.

5. Initial screening of application

Your application will be screened to see if FACS can proceed with your adoption assessment.

The screening occurs after all the required documentation is received (such as medical reports, criminal record checks, personal references, birth and marriage certificates and if applicable certificate(s) of naturalisation).

You will receive notification in writing about whether your application is able to be progressed to an assessment.

6. Assessment

The assessment reflects the legislative requirements of the NSW Adoption Act 2000, and identified predictive placement risk and success factors from adoption research.

There are specific assessment requirements in relation to the adoption of children over 24 months of age, the adoption of sibling groups and the adoption of a specific child or children in permanent care.

What is the assessment process?

The assessment will take a minimum of three months, and usually takes three to four months. This length of time allows for a fair and thorough assessment of your suitability and also gives you the opportunity to explore the prospective adoption from all angles under the guidance of an adoption specialist.

Who conducts the assessment?

A Contracted Adoption Assessor will evaluate your suitability for most adoption programs. If you are applying to the Special Placements Program, a Caseworker from the Adoption and Permanent Care Program will conduct the assessment.

7. Determination of your suitability to adopt

Local adoption

The completed assessment report and a recommendation from your assessor is then forwarded to the Manager Caseworker Adoption & Permanent Care, who will determine your suitability to adopt.

If approved, your names are entered on the FACS Register of approved adoptive parents.

If your application is not approved, you will be informed of this decision and the reasons for it. The decision is a ‘reviewable decision’ under the Adoption Act 2000. You will be advised of the procedures to have the decision reviewed.

Approval for intercountry adoption

Intercountry adoption applicants’ approved assessment reports will be sent to the overseas adoption program for consideration. Procedures and documentation required to be provided by applicants varies from country to country.

The final decision as to whether your application is approved (or not) is determined by the overseas adoption authority.

8. Next steps

The process of identifying the most suitable adoptive family for a particular child and the placement procedures differ in the various local and intercountry adoption programs. You will be advised of the next steps for your specific program.

Your obligations

It is your responsibility to maintain your eligibility for adoption at all times, until a Court Order for the adoption is granted.

Changed circumstances

The Adoption Regulation 2015 (clause 48(2)) requires an approved applicant to notify the relevant decision maker as soon as practicable, of any significant changes in their circumstances.

An updated assessment report may be required if there is a significant change in your circumstances.

9. Placement

The placement procedures differ in the various local and intercountry adoption programs and placement timeframes can vary.

Placement process

All placements are preceded by an interview, during which prospective adoptive parents will receive all the relevant information FACS holds about the child and their social and medical history.

The length of time taken to introduce a child to his/her adoptive family will be determined on a individual basis to ensure the process is suitable for the individual child’s circumstances and in their best interest.

10. Post placement stage

The placement of a child will bring adjustments for you, your family and, of course, for the child. The Assessor will visit during this period to offer support and advice, and to report on the placement. Overseas authorities also require post placement reports.

For local adoptions, until an Adoption Order is made in NSW, the parental responsibility for your child will rest with the Secretary, FACS. FACS generally proceeds to finalise the adoption about six to nine months after the child's placement.

11. Adoption Orders in NSW

In NSW, the Supreme Court is responsible for effecting adoption orders.

In local adoption matters, Adoption Services or an accredited adoption service provider lodges the application at Court.

Where it is necessary to make an application to the Supreme Court, intercountry adoption applicants may prepare the application themselves or engage a private solicitor.

Following the making of an Adoption Order in NSW, the Supreme Court provides FACS with a certified copy of the Order and authorises the NSW Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages to issue an amended birth certificate to recognise the child as a member of the adoptive family.

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