Adoption of your child

If you are considering adoption for your child you can get support from an adoption practitioner or other person such as a hospital social worker to help you make your decision. 

It is important you fully understand what adoption means for you and your child before you give consent.

Support can help you to make the best decision for you and your child's future.

Temporary care of your child

You can sign a temporary placement arrangement. This means your child is placed in foster care while you make your decision. 

This is a voluntary agreement, and gives shared legal rights to Territory Families as the guardian of your child for a specified period of time.  

Consenting to adoption

If you decide to part with your child for adoption you have to sign an adoption consent form.

All parents who are named on the birth certificate need to give consent. 

There is no legal obligation in the Northern Territory (NT) for the birth mother to name the birth father on the birth certificate.

You can only sign the consent form after:

  • a newborn is at least 30 days old
  • you have been given official information about the legal aspects of adoption - this must happen at least seven days before signing. 

Withdrawing consent

Once you sign the adoption consent form it does not become legal for another 30 days.

This period gives you time to reconsider your decision and to test how it feels to be permanently separated from your child.  

You can change your mind and withdraw your consent at any time during this period, even if you have signed a temporary placement arrangement. 

You must withdraw your consent in writing. 

Birth parents' rights after adoption

Once the adoption consent form has been signed and the 30-day period has passed, the birth parents no longer have parental legal rights.

In some circumstances it may be possible for birth parents and the adoptive parents to negotiate to exchange information about the child - at the time of the adoption or after. 

This is called an open adoption and must be understood and agreed on by all the people involved.

When the child turns 16 years old - and with the adoptive parents' consent - they can apply to the department for their birth information.

When the child turns 18 they don't need their adoptive parents' consent to apply.

If the child requests and the adoptive parents agree, communication may happen between the child and their birth family before they are 16 years old. 

This communication would need to be in the child's best interests and supported by the NT Adoption Unit.

Adoptive parents

Adoptive parents are selected from approved applicants who have been fully assessed by a panel of senior staff from Territory Families.

The department is responsible for deciding which approved applicants would be the most suitable for the child.

This decision is made with the best interests of the child as the highest concern.

As the child's birth parents, you can provide input into the decision and can express your wishes about factors that you feel are important for your child's future in areas such as:

  • religion
  • ethnic background of parents
  • age and lifestyle of the new parents.

You also may be given some information about potential adoptive parents.

This information will not identify who they are, but you can use it to consider and provide feedback about who you would prefer to adopt your child.

Finalising the adoption

The adoption is finalised once the child has been with the new family for about one year and the placement has been successful.

The adoption is finalised with a court order.

As part of this, the Births, Deaths and Marriages office will issue a new birth certificate with the details of the new legal family.

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Last updated: 03 February 2020

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