Adoption is a way to provide a permanent family for children who for various reasons cannot live with their birth family. The legal adoption process establishes a permanent parent-child relationship between a child and his/her adoptive parents. Adoption also removes the legal relationship between the child and his or her birth parents and extended family.
Adoption is a legal process as provided for under the Adoption Act 2009 where legal rights and responsibilities for a child are permanently transferred from the birth parents to the child’s adoptive parents. This means that after the child is adopted, the adoptive parents not the birth parents will be the child’s legal parents.
Recent laws introduced in Queensland provide a more open adoption framework for future adoptions allowing a degree of openness in an adoption between a child’s family and adopted family. If you have recently conceived and you are considering adoption as an option, we would recommend that you seek the support of Adoption Services Qld and also access comprehensive legal advice about your rights and options. Under the Adoption Act parents must receive pre consent counselling before consenting to a child’s adoption.
Alternatively, if you are intending on adopting a child you must first enter your name on the expression of interest register maintained by Adoption Services Qld. The Expression of Interest register is a list of the names of people who have expressed their interest in being assessed as suitable to adopt. You will be eligible to have your name entered in the expression of interest register if you satisfy a number of criteria some of which are you and your spouse are adults, at least one of you is an Australian citizen, you are not an intended parent under an altruistic surrogacy arrangement within the meaning of the Surrogacy Act, you have been in relationship with your spouse for 2 years. If the Department finds that you have been found ineligible or unsuitable to express an interest on the register, the Department must provide their reasons for the decision and inform you of your right to have the decision reviewed.
Adopting Stepchildren or a Child related to yourself
Adoption is a serious and final legal step. It is not usual to formally adopt stepchildren or relatives. This is because Parenting Orders can usually be made to meet the child’s needs without adoption. The child’s step-parent that is the married or de-facto spouse of the parent of the child will be able to apply to adopt if:
- the person is an adult who is a resident of Qld,
- the person lives with the child and spouse and has done so for 3 years,
- the person has been granted leave by the Family Court under the Family Law Act to commence adoption proceedings,
- the child is at least 5 years old and not more than 17 years of age.
The Children’s Court may dispense with the need the need to obtain a person’s consent in certain circumstances for adoption to occur and we would suggest that Legal advice is obtained if this issue arises.