The adoption process in Australia requires an experienced family lawyer to ensure the provision of accurate legal advice and to ensure any same-sex couple that wishes to adopt are properly guided. The particular circumstances of each potential adoption order must be properly considered in light of the adoption legislation in NSW.
As Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, where a child, his or her birth parents and potential adoptive parents are from as well as the current residency of each is fundamental to the adoption process.
Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers are experts in adoption law and can provide high-quality legal services to assist any same-sex couple wishing to adopt a child.
The adoption legislation for NSW gives strong consideration to the best interests of the child concerned. Adoption is considered as a service for the child and adoption law and practice aims to assist a child to know and have access to his or her birth family and cultural heritage.
Where a child is able to form his or her own views concerning their adoption, the law provides they must be given an opportunity to express those views freely and they are to be given due weight in accordance with the child’s capacity and circumstances.
In 2010 the Adoption Amendment (Same Sex Couples) Act 2010 came into force, which amended the Adoption Act 2000 to allow same-sex, couples to adopt. In effect, the law no longer treats same-sex couples differently to heterosexual couples.
A ‘couple’ is defined in the legislation as two persons who are married to each other or who are de facto partners of each other. De facto refers to persons whether of the same sex or have a different sex.
Under the Adoption Act, a couple may make an adoption order by one person or jointly. Where a couple wishes to adopt a child, they must be residents or be based in NSW and both must be ‘of good repute and fit and proper persons to fulfil the responsibilities of parents’.
Each of the adoption parents must be at least 21 years of age and at least 18 years older than the child. A court may have regard to the particular circumstances and may make an adoption order if the adoption parents do not fulfil the age requirements.
The couple must also have been living together for a continuous period of not less than 2 years immediately before the application of the adoption order.
There are numerous fundamental considerations, which need to be taken into account with every adoption in order to comply with the law. For example, if the child is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage, particular processes must be followed.
Where a child is of Aboriginal heritage, a suitably qualified Aboriginal person or persons in accordance with the Adoption Act must be consulted about the placement of the child. Where a child is of Torres Strait Islander heritage, a suitably qualified Torres Strait Islander person or persons must be consulted about the placement of the child. In addition to this, the Secretary of the Department or appropriate principal officer must ensure that the placement of the child is made in consultation with a local, community-based and relevant Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisation.
Adoption Process Generally
A person or couple may firstly submit an expression of interest in adopting a child to the Secretary of the Department or principal officer of an adoption service to be approved as suitable to adopt a child. The Secretary or principal officer may then invite a person or couple who have submitted an expression of interest to submit an application to adopt a child.
An adoption order will not be made for a child who is less than 18 years of age unless consent has been given by each parent of the child and any person who has parental responsibility for the child.
Generally, where a child is 12 or more but less than 18 years of age and is capable of giving consent, an adoption order will not be made unless the child consents to his or her adoption by the prospective adoptive parent or parents.
If an adoption order is made in NSW, the adopted child has the same rights to the adoptive parents as a child born to the adoptive parents and the adoptive parents have the same parental responsibility as the parents of a child born to the adoptive parents. The adopted child is regarded as the child of the adoptive parents and ceases to be regarded as the child of the birth parents.
For more information on same-sex adoption arrangements, contact Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers. Our offices are conveniently located in Surry Hills, Crows Nest and Parramatta. To speak to a specialist family lawyer about same-sex adoption or any family law matter contact Sarah Bevan Lawyers on 1300 007 235 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.