What is adoption?

Adoption is the legal process where the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent are transferred permanently from the child's birth parents to the adoptive parents. The change is permanently, and is ordered by the Supreme Court or County Court of Victoria. When an adoption occurs, a new birth certificate is issued and the adoptive parents assume full control and responsibility as though they were the child’s biological parents.

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 Victoria, an adopted person who has attained the age of 18 years can gain access to information regarding their adoption. This works similarly for your biological parents if they want to find out your identity information. Your biological parents have a ‘legal right’ to finding out your identification information when you turn 18.

Those who are adopted but are under the age of 18 may apply for information, but information will only be provided if written consent has been given by the adoptive parents.

How do I get information?

Information can be accessed through the Adoption and Family Records Service. The service can provide a copy of the original birth certificate and court and agency records can be provided.

If you have trouble getting the information from the service, try using VANISH (an organisation which provides a search tool) by going to

What is an ‘adoption order?’

An adoption order is an agreement which sets outs conditions of the adoption. The adoption order may set out provisions about access of information about the birth parents and the child, and may also have other provisions. You should check to see if your adoption was made subject to an adoption order.

What if I don’t want by birth parents to contact me?

Your birth parents have a legal right to information about you once you turn 18. However, you can notify the Adoption and Family Record Service that you don’t want to be contacted. If you do this, your birth parents will not be allowed to contact you.

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.

Who can adopt me?

In Victoria, an adoption order is usually given to a couple.

Only in special circumstances will an adoption order be given to a single person.

The following criteria must be satisfied before an adoption order is given:

-The couple must be married or be in a de facto relationship; and

-their relationship must not be for less than 2 years at the time the order is made.

The Court must ensure that the adoptive parents are fit and proper parents and that the welfare and the interest of the child are upheld.

Are my opinions important?

Yes - an adoption cannot be made if the child’s wishes are not considered.

What are my 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 Victoria, 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).Once an adoption order is in place, the adopted child has the same rights as a biological son or daughter of the adoptive parents, including the right to inherit.


Last updated 22 September 2010

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