The Adoption (Review) Amendment Act 2016 was passed in the South Australian Parliament in December 2016.

Legislative changes

The changes to the law have happened in stages.

The first stage occurred on 17 February 2017 and removed discrimination against same-sex couples from the Adoption Act. Since then, same-sex couples have been able to apply to adopt a child.

The next stage occurred on 18 December 2017 and related to removing adoption information vetoes over a period of 5 years. This means that adoption information vetoes can no longer be placed and those that were in place have been extended for 5 years, expiring on 17 December 2022.

The rest of the amendments commenced on 15 December 2018 and include:

  • bringing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle into the Principles and Objects of the Act
  • providing a definition of parties to an adoption
  • enabling adults to be adopted
  • ensuring that an adopted child can keep their first name except in special circumstances
  • broadening the circumstances allowing for discharge of adoption orders
  • enabling parties to an adoption to be notified about the death of another party
  • enabling adopted people to have “integrated birth certificates”, which have the details of both their birth and adoptive parents.

New Adoption Regulations have also come into effect.

See Changes to the adoption act for further information about how the amendments might affect you.

Adoptions Act review recommendations

During 2014-15, the South Australian Adoption Act and Adoption Regulations were reviewed by an independent reviewer, Associate Professor Lorna Hallahan.

The amendments to the law are based on the key recommendations of the 2015 Adoption Act Review Report (PDF 2MB) (PDF, 1.8 MB).

The key recommendations were changing the law to incorporate:

Children’s rights

The Act will pay attention to children's rights by incorporating a wider statement of principles and objectives which acknowledge that adoptions must be in the best interests of children.

Same-sex couples

The Adoption Act will enable same-sex couples to apply to adopt a child. See Changes to same-sex, single person and adult adoptions for more information.

Adoption information vetoes

Adoption information vetoes prevent the release of identifying information to another party to the adoption. Adoption information vetoes will be abolished and phased out over 5 years. See Changes to vetoes for more information.

Adoption of adults

The Act will enable an adult to be adopted by a person(s) who cared for them in their childhood. A significant parent-to-child relationship must have existed between the prospective adoptive parent(s) and the adult seeking to be adopted.

This would include, for example, adoption of an adult by their foster parent or step-parent. See Changes to same-sex, single person and adult adoptions for more information.

Keeping a child’s original first name

The Act will provide that when a child is adopted, the Court making the adoption order should ensure that the child’s original first name is kept except in exceptional circumstances. See Changes to naming and birth certificates for more information.

Birth certificates

The Act will enable an adopted person's birth certificate to provide the truest possible account of the biological parentage of the child. In most cases this will mean that an adopted person's birth registration details will include both their birth parents and their adoptive parents.

Birth certificates issued would ensure that it is clear that the adoptive parents are the legal parents of the adopted person. See Changes to naming and birth certificates for more information.

Discharge of adoption orders

The Act will enable the court to discharge (undo) an adoption order where it is in the adopted person's best interests.

This may include, for example, where the adopted person has been abused in the adoptive family, or has suffered a loss of identity or belonging as a result of the adoption.

Adoption Support

To talk to someone about getting support for how these changes might affect you, you can contact:

Post Adoption Support Services (non-government)

Email: passinfo@rasa.org.au
Phone: (08) 8245 8100

Department for Child Protection Adoption Services (government)

Emailadoptions@sa.gov.au
Phone: 8463 3666

Adoption Act Review Office

Policy staff are available to help you with your queries about the Act.

Email: DCPAdoptionReview@sa.gov.au
Phone: 8226 6840