Adoption Lawyers in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Ipswich & North Lakes
Whatever your reasons for choosing to adopt a child, you are an inspiration.
Adoption will establish a permanent legal relationship between you and a child and dissolve the legal relationship with their birth family.
Step-parent adoption is the legal process for becoming an adoptive parent of your partner or spouse’s child and it is becoming more and more frequent.
Eligibility for step-parent adoption is much the same as for all Queensland adoptions.
Your step-child must be aged between 5 and 17 years and you will need to prove that you:
- are an adult who is an Australian citizen that resides in Queensland;
- live with the child and their parent and have done so for at least three years; and
- have been granted leave under the Family Law Act 1975 to commence adoption proceedings.
If you are an eligible step-parent here’s how adopting your step-child will work. Firstly, you complete an application to adopt a step-child, which is available here. Before the application process can commence it will be necessary to obtain consent from the child’s other parent. If this is not possible an application can be made to the Children’s Court and you can contact our team to find out more about that process.
Then you will be assessed to determine “suitability” and this assessment will consider things like home interviews, discussions with you, the child and the parent, your health and wellbeing, and checks on criminal, traffic, domestic violence and child protection records.
If you are found to be suitable you will receive a report from Adoption Services for presentation to the court as proof in your application.
It is important that any application is made with your partner as once the order is made the child ceases to be the child of the former parents and becomes the child of the adoptive parents.
If your application is not approved you may have the ability to appeal the decision, or seek a different type of order and our team can advise you on these options related to you particular situation.
The adoption process in Queensland is notoriously difficult to navigate in Queensland and it can be quite expensive, but don’t lose hope.
- complete an Adoption Expression of Interest Form, there is no fee to do this;
- an assessment of your eligibility will be undertaken;
- if approved your name will be entered onto the Expression of Interest Register for two years before it expires;
- once you are on the register you may be selected to have your suitability assessed and will receive a Notice of Selection for Assessment;
- if you and any other adults residing in your home are assessed as “suitable” you will be entered onto the Suitable Adoptive Parent(s) Register;
- from this register adoption agencies will select people that are most appropriate for a particular adoptive child;
- you will receive a placement proposal, which you can accept or decline;
- if you accept an application will be made to the Children’s Court for an interim adoption order; and
- the child must then be in your care for at least 12 months before a final adoption order can be made.
To be able to adopt a child in Queensland it is essential that you:
- are over the age of 18;
- or your partner are an Australian resident and you reside in Queensland;
- are not pregnant;
- not an intended parent under a surrogacy agreement, or if you have been the arrangement ended more than six months earlier; and
- do not have custody of a child under the age of one or that has been in your custody for less than one year (not including care under the Child Protection Act 1999).
The Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 was passed on 2 November 2016 and provides for an update on parties that are eligible to adopt children in Queensland. With this, single and same-sex people are eligible to apply to adopt a child in Queensland, long-awaited changes indeed.
Potential parents are selected from the Expression of Interest Register each year, based on the number of children that require an adoptive family.
To determine whether you are a “suitable” parent Adoption Services Queensland will consider things like your:
- general parental capacity;
- motivations and expectations;
- financial stability and capacity;
- emotional and psychological capacity;
- relationships and the stability of these;
- attitudes to children and parenting;
- understanding of adoption and the role of birth families, open adoption and communicating with the child about their adoption;
- cultural matters; and
- anything else that affects the child’s wellbeing and your ability to keep them safe from harm.
The process will involve a series of home visits as well as other meetings and interviews. It may seem daunting but you can understand why the process is so involved, the future of those little children depends on getting it right.
This is a big decision and one that deserves the absolute best due diligence and care. In selecting the right adoptive parents for a child consideration will be given to:
- the child’s needs;
- preferences of the birth parents;
- any siblings of the child;
- any existing children in the adoptive family;
- the adoptive person; and
- capacity to ideally provide full-time care for the first 12 months.
An open adoption will provide for the child to have contact, or exchange information with their birth family if agreed by all parties. These arrangements are unique to the adoption and will cater to different degrees of openness, with the ability to adapt over time as the child gets older.
If you choose an open adoption we encourage you to properly document an adoption plan that agrees to what and how information will be shared, the level of contact, a commitment of the adoptive family to share details of the adoption with the child and when this will happen.
Adoption plans are not legally enforceable documents and does not affect the legal nature of the adoption.
They are also entirely optional, except in circumstances where:
- the parents (birth and adoptive) elect to have face-to-face contact;
- a child protection order is or has been in place naming the child; and
- the adoptive parent(s) are not from the same community or language group as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child.
Inter-country adoption is possible in Queensland. It is important to consider the unique needs of a child from another country such as language, cultural, social and medical that may differ from your own.
This process works essentially the same in terms of nominating for the Expression of Interest Register and being assessed for suitability. Following entry to the Queensland Suitable Adoptive Parent(s) Register your details will be sent to international adoption agencies based on your nomination as well as other legal considerations such as immigration and the Hague Convention.
These international agencies will consider your application against their own processes and if you are selected you will receive de-identified information about the prospective adoptive child so that you can consider if you will accept the proposal. You do not have to accept the proposal and can say no.
If you choose to accept the proposal there are a lot of arrangements to be made and namely travelling to meet the child. Of course there will also be medical and legal considerations related to the child’s health and wellbeing and their immigration to Australia.
This is no small task and one that you need to carefully consider seeking expert legal advice on, for the benefit and peace of mind for you and the child who is waiting to join your family.
An interim adoption order is made by the Children’s Court and provide s for the adoptive parent(s) to have custody of the child and make decisions about day-to-day care.
These are normally used in the initial 12 months of an adoptive placement to determine whether the adoptive parents can adequately provide and care for the child.
The court will consider any changes to the child’s name at the time of the final adoption order. It is possible to keep or change the child’s existing name, including the addition of an additional or new name. In determining this the court will consider whether the child is known by or identifies with a certain name, any risk to their wellbeing of retaining their existing name and their right to their identity.
Alternatively you can apply to change the child’s name under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003.
This depends entirely on your situation and whether or not you seek expert legal advice. For instance, the local Queensland adoption fees start at some $680 at the time of writing and can range right through to $15,000 or more for inter-country adoptions. Find out more on the Queensland Government adoption website.
You’re reading this because adoption is something you are genuinely considering and that is no small decision to make. It’s important that you seek the absolute best advice and counsel at this time. Like the old saying “it takes a village” so too does preparing for adoption. Consider speaking with your family and friends, seeking financial advice and possibly emotional support and understanding from someone like a counsellor or psychologist.
Contact our family law team for a consultation
It is entirely possible to undergo this process without legal advice although you may want to consider it if you are looking into inter-country adoption or adopting a step-child or step-children. Our experienced adoption lawyers can provide advice in relation to your obligations and rights in relation to adoption law in Australia. Contact one of our offices today to speak with an experienced adoption lawyer.