Adoption removes the legal rights and responsibilities of the child’s birth family.
In Queensland the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disabilities Services (Child Safety Services), is responsible for providing services for:
- a parent(s) seeking adoption for their child(ren); and
- a couple wishing to adopt a child or children.
The process for adoption is complex and lengthy.
The Department provides this service in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Adoption Act 2009 and the Adoption Regulation 2009.
It is against the law to arrange a private adoption in Queensland.
Prospective parents wishing to adopt a child must meet the eligibility criteria set out in the Adoption Act 2009.
A person is considered eligible if the following applies:
- the person is an adult;
- the person or the person’s spouse is an Australian citizen;
- the person is resident or domiciled in Queensland;
- for a woman, the person is not pregnant;
- the person is not undergoing fertility treatment and has not undergone fertility treatment within the previous 6 months;
- the person does not have custody of:
- a child aged less than 1 year; or
- a child who has been in the person’s custody for less than 1 year.
- the person has a spouse who:
- is also eligible under the above paragraphs;
- is not the same gender as the person; and
- has been the person’s spouse for at least 2 years.
- the person and the person’s spouse:
- are living together; and
- have lived together for a continuous period of at least 2 years up to the time they made an expression of interest.
Prospective parents for intercountry adoption will also need to meet any eligibility criteria required by the country from which the child will be adopted. Often the criteria imposed by such countries are far more stringent than Queensland.
Expression of Interest Register
In order to express an interest in becoming adoptive parents, couples must first register such an interest with the Adoptive Services division of the Department. Forms are available on the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services website.
After the relevant forms expressing an interest lodged, Adoptive Services will review the application of the prospective parents, to assess eligibility. If successful, the prospective parents’ names will be added to the ‘expression of interest register’.
Assessment for Suitability
There are a large number of couples that express an interest to become adoptive parents each year, with very few children requiring adoption. Being accepted on the expression of interest registrar does not give the prospective parents certainty of being selected to progress the application to assessment for suitability as adoptive parents.
If a couple are selected to progress their application to assessment for suitability as adoptive parents, a notice of selection will issue. The couple will be required to pay an assessment fee upon receipt of the notice of selection, in order to progress to the next stage. The assessment fee is determined by the Adoption Regulation 2009 and subject to change.
The assessment fee inter-country adoption is payable at two (2) stages:
- After the prospective parents receive the notice of selection for assessment; and
- Prior to commencement of the home study (discussed below).
If a notice of selection does not issue to a couple with two (2) from the date the expression of interest was accepted onto the register, the expression of interest will expire. In order to continue in the process a further expression of interest must be lodged by the couple, should they wish to do so.
When a couple receive a notice of assessment, they are jointly assessed to see if they are suitable to parent an adopted child together, however they must also be found suitable as individuals.
The suitability assessment undertaken by Adoption Services is a comprehensive process. The prospective parents are jointly assessed (both as a couple and individuals) to determine whether they are suitable to parent an adopted child.
Information is ordinarily obtained and analysed by the Adoption Services from a number of sources and by utilising the following approach:
- having the prospective parents undertake workshops (or comparable educational activities);
- attending upon the prospective parent’s residence for interviews and observations (home study);
- interviewing referees provided by the prospective parents and anyone other person whom may the Adoption Service may consider to hold any relevant information pertaining to the prospective parents;
- obtaining medical reports from any medical practitioner that treat the prospective parents (including mental health professionals), or requesting a full medical examination to be undertaken by the prospective parents;
- requesting documentation from the prospective parents relevant to the parties and their suitability to be adoptive parents; and
- obtaining information and reports from other government departments relevant to the parties and their suitability to be adoptive parents. This can include a full criminal, domestic violence and traffic history.
There are a large number of couples that are selected and undertake the suitability assessment each year, with very few children requiring adoption. There is no guarantee that a couple will be assessed as suitable, nor if they are assessed as suitable, that a child will be placed in their care.
After completing the assessment you are placed on the waiting list with other suitable prospective adoptive parents, to await a child requiring placement.
Once a child requires adoption and you are chosen to be the adoptive parents, the child will be observed in your care for a period of time (approximately three (3) months). Following the observation period Adoptive Services will make an application to the Children’s Court on your behalf for a final adoption order to be made.
Prior to making an order for adoption, the Court needs to be satisfied that both birth parents of the child have freely and voluntarily consented to the adoption.
If the identity of the father is unknown, Adoptive Services must prove to the Court that reasonable steps have been taken to identify and locate the father.
A parent’s consent is not required under the Adoption Act 2009 (Qld), if a Court has dispensed with the requirement for consent in relation to the child’s adoption.
After the final order is made, the child becomes the legal child of the adoptive parents. The law no longer recognises the birth parent(s) relationship with the child.
A copy of the final order will be registered with the Registry for Births, Deaths and Marriages by Adoptive Services in order to have a new birth certificate issued for the child, naming the adoptive parents on the child’s birth certificate.
If you are considering adopting a child, the process may seem overwhelming. At Marino Law, our skilled Family Lawyers have the expertise to assist you through the adoption process.
Marino Law has been named as a Recommended Gold Coast Family and Divorce law firm for several years running on the prestigious Doyles Guide.
Marius Eden, Special Counsel is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law. Specialist Accreditation acknowledges an additional course of study and the achievement of a high level of practical skill and knowledge in the area of expertise.