Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services

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Access to identifying information before an adopted person is 18 years of age

The Adoption Act 2009 allows a child's adoptive and birth families to explore the option of 'opening' the adoption before the child's 18th birthday. An adoption would be 'opened' by the birth and adoptive families being given information about each others identities. This allows families to directly communicate with each other and, perhaps decide to meet.

An adoptive parent, an adopted child (with his or her parent's agreement) or a birth parent can apply to Adoption Services for identifying information before the adopted person is 18 years of age. If an application is received, Adoption Services will contact the other party, where possible, to discuss his or her interest in exchanging identifying information, unless:

  • there is a court order restricting the release of identifying information or
  • making such contact is inconsistent with the wishes the other party has recorded in an (existing) adoption plan or
  • the other party has previously given the department instructions not to contact them for this purpose.

Identifying information can be released only if written agreement is given by the child's adoptive parents and a birth parent. There is no legal obligation for either party to give this agreement.

Prior to releasing identifying information both parties written consent must have been provided and Adoption Services must also consider:

  • the adopted child's views, where the child is able to form and express views
  • whether the release of information is not contrary to the child's wellbeing and best interests.

Adoption Services may assist to develop an adoption plan where parties have consented to the release of identifying information.

In some instances, a child's adoptive and birth families, who have obtained identifying information and are interested in 'opening' the adoption, may start by exchanging identifying information in correspondence through the Mailbox Service before deciding to correspond directly and/or to make face-to-face contact.

A person can apply for identifying information by completing an application for adoption information form and returning it to Adoption Services.

If you are a birth parent of an adopted person who is a child (under 18 years of age) and you wish to apply for identifying information about your child, please complete and return the Application for adoption information (adopted person is a child): Birth parent (PDF, 295 KB)Application for adoption information (adopted person is a child): Birth parent (RTF, 494 KB) form. 

If you are an adopted child and have the consent of your parent/s or you are an adoptive parent and you wish to apply for pre-adoption information, please complete and return the Application for adoption information from an adopted child or his or her adoptive parent/s (PDF, 392 KB)Application for adoption information from an adopted child or his or her adoptive parent/s (RTF, 161 KB) form.

Please contact Adoption Services to discuss your circumstances and eligibility to apply for adoption information and for assistance with completing the relevant application for adoption information form.

Adoption Services will provide identifying information in a letter to both parties if:

  • the child's adoptive parents, the adopted child (where applicable) and the child's birth parent or parents provide their written agreement to the release of identifying information
  • the release of information is not contrary to the child's wellbeing and best interests.

The adoptive parent and adopted child will receive information about:

  • the adopted child's name at the time of the adoption
  • the adopted child's birth mother and birth father, if this information is available including their:
    • name at the time of the adoption
    • date of birth
    • if the birth parent has agreed in writing, his or her last known name and address.
    • any adopted siblings.

The birth parent will receive information about:

  • the adopted child's name after the adoption
  • the names of the adopted child's adoptive parents (at the time of adoption)
  • the adoptive parents' and child's last known name and address (if the adopted child's adoptive parents have agreed in writing).

In addition, Adoption Services will provide the adoptive parents, adopted child and birth parent with copies of the following documents, where available:

  • a birth parent's consent to the adoption
  • a court order dispensing with the need for a birth parent's consent
  • the adoption order.

Any available non-identifying information will also be provided.

The child's adoptive parents will be able to receive an authorisation from Adoption Services to obtain a copy of, or information from, the original birth certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This certificate will be endorsed 'not to be used for official purposes'.

Birth parents will be able to receive an authorisation from Adoption Services for the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to provide them with a copy of, or information from, the child's amended (after adoption) birth certificate. If a copy of a certificate is provided, it will be endorsed 'not to be used for official purposes'.

The authorisation to obtain a copy of a birth certificate can specify that details on the certificate, (other than identifying information that must be provided under the Act) are to be excluded if the department is satisfied that allowing access to the information would be an unreasonable invasion of a person's privacy or otherwise unreasonably harm a person's interests.

If this applies, the authorisation Adoption Services provides to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages will enable information from a certificate, rather than a copy of the certificate itself, to be provided to the relevant party.

Adoption Services is able to provide an authorisation for the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to give birth parents, regardless of whether they have received identifying information about an adopted person, a copy of the adopted child's original birth certificate, endorsed 'not to be used for official purposes'.

Identifying information can be provided to an adopted child and the child's adoptive parents about the child's birth father and to the birth father about the adopted child if:

  • he provides his written agreement to the release of identifying information
  • he consented to the adoption, or the need for his consent was dispensed with
  • he is recorded on the birth certificate as the person's father
  • Adoption Services's records demonstrate he accepted paternity of the adopted person before or at the time of the adoption
  • there is otherwise sufficient evidence to satisfy Adoption Services that the man is the adopted person's biological father.

Contact Adoption Services