Adoption and Permanent Care - Making Contact

In the past, adoption was surrounded by secrecy. It is now recognised that it is important for children to have the opportunity to know about their origins, and for natural parents and relatives to know about the child.

Parents whose children are placed outside the family on a permanent basis experience grief and loss which may last for many years. Having contact with, or information about, their child is often very important to them. Most locally born children placed for adoption or permanent care now have some contact with their natural family.

After an adoption consent is signed, the parent is given the opportunity to indicate in writing whether they or a relative want contact with the child after adoption, and if so, how often. The parents are also able to indicate whether they want the child placed with people who agree to have these wishes included in the adoption order. This forms a legally binding basis for dealing with any disputes that arise.

Provisions for access are also included in custody and guardianship orders. Permanent care orders must include conditions regarding access. The type and amount of contact varies, depending on the needs of the child. With Inter-country adoption, information about the child's background may be limited and it may be difficult to establish contact. However, in some situations, there are opportunities for information exchange with the natural family and an increasing number of overseas agencies are assisting adoptees in their search for information. The adoption and permanent care agency attends access visits until the natural parents and permanent parents feel comfortable about managing the arrangements themselves.

What provisions are there for people affected by adoption to obtain information about each other?

Family Information Networks and Discovery (FIND), located in the department, was set up in 1985 following proclamation of the access to information provision of the Victorian Adoption Act 1984. Victoria was the first State in Australia to pass legislation permitting people affected by adoption to obtain information. The service assists people who have been separated by adoption and who wish to obtain information and/or contact one another. The service enables people to place their names on the register, obtain information, search and make contact. It also offers intermediary, counselling and support services. Under Victorian law, adopted people, natural parents and adoptive parents, some natural relatives and children of adopted persons are entitled to apply for information.

The department and each approved agency maintain a register on which eligible parties may request, in writing, that their names, addresses and wishes in relation to obtaining or providing information be recorded.

For further information see the Adoption and family information networks and discovery page on this site.

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