What is adoption?

Adoption is the legal process where the legal rights and responsibilities of a birth parent are transferred permanently to the adoptive parents. In South Australia, an ‘adoption order’ establishes this new legally recognised relationship. An adoption order is given by the Youth Court of South Australia.

What are my rights if I am adopted?

As an adopted child, you generally have the same rights as any other child.

Can I find out who my biological parents are?

In South Australia, the law permits you to find out who your biological parents are after you turn 18. You do not require permission to get this information. Similarly, your biological parents can find out information about you after you turn 18.

At the age of 18, you can receive information such as the name of birth parents or any siblings, the details regarding the circumstances of the adoption, any messages or items left for from your birth parents and your original birth certificate.

If you are under 18, you can only get information about your biological parents if your adoptive parents give consent.

What if I don’t want my biological parents to contact me?

The law in South Australia ensures that privacy is maintained. Should the birth parents make an attempt to contact the adopted child, the consent of the adoptive parents and the consent of the adopted person (if they are 12 years old or older) is required. If for whatever reason the birth parents cannot make contact, they can leave messages for the child which the child will receive once he/she has turned 18.

Can I move in with my birth parents?

After an adoption is made, your adopted parents have full parental rights and responsibilities. That means it is generally expected that you will live with your adoptive parents. You should discuss contacting your birth parents with your adoptive parents. However, you are not breaking any law if you leave home.

For more information about leaving home, see our Lawstuff topic ‘Leaving Home’.

Can my birth parents adopt me again?

Re-adoption is possible if everyone agrees to it.

Who can adopt me?

Before an adoption can occur, the eligible criteria must be met. South Australia requires that adoptive parents be in married relationship for at least 3 years. There are other important requirements as well.

Step parents can also adopt. The general adoption practice is that it will be in the child’s best interest if ties are maintained with their original family. Therefore step parents or single’s adoption can occur.

Does my opinion matter?

Before an adoption order if in place, the Family Court must consider your opinion if you are 5 years or over.

Do I have any rights to inherit my adoptive parents’ property when they die?

Inheritance occurs when someone dies, and their property, for example, their house and money, is transferred to someone else. Parents’ property is usually inherited by their children.

In SA, once you are adopted into a family, in the eyes of the law you become a child of your adoptive parents. Therefore you have the same rights that a birth child has with regard to inheritance of your adoptive parents’ property when they die (but you have no rights of inheritance from your birth parents).


Last updated 22 September 2010

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