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Adoption and foster care - South Australia and Australia

adoption; unplanned; adopt; Australian; family information; service; AFIS; counselling;

When a woman finds out that she is pregnant, there are many issues to consider. If the pregnancy is unplanned or unwanted, there are extra pressures which sometimes mean that the parents consider adoption or fostering for their child.


Deciding to have your baby adopted is an important and permanent decision. Adoption is the legal process that happens when a woman gives up her baby to be raised by adoptive parents. All legal rights and responsibilities of the birth parents are severed and are transferred to the adoptive parents.

If you are not ready to go ahead with having your baby adopted, you may want to think about having your baby fostered until you feel able to take care of your baby. Foster care is not a permanent situation: you can see your baby while he or she is in foster care and work towards having your baby permanently.

Deciding to have your baby adopted - South Australia 

If a parent who lives in South Australia is considering adoption for her child, expert counselling is available from the Families SA Adoption Service to explore all possible options. Adoption is one of these options. Speaking with social workers from the Adoption Service (for information or counselling) does not necessarily mean that your child will be adopted. Children may stay with other family members or with foster parents while all options for the child are being explored.

The Department for Child Protection is the only agency in South Australia that deals with adoptions. 

If you are thinking about having your baby adopted, it is best if you contact them early in your pregnancy. People who work with the service will spend a lot of time talking with you and helping you to think about all your options. If parents decide to go ahead with having their child adopted, then they will provide counselling about what that means and about grief and loss issues associated with that decision.

Things have changed from years ago when the mother and father of the child did not know who the adoptive parents were and had no contact with their child. Now the law has changed and things are much more open. Parents are encouraged to be involved in decisions about where their child will live. Parents will also be able to organise future contact with the child and their adoptive family.

What is the legal process?

When parents have been counselled according to the requirements of the Adoption Act 1988, they may choose to sign a formal consent for adoption of their child. After this, they have the option to change their mind (revoke their consent). There is a 25 day period after the consent is GIVEN for the parent/s to reconsider, and this may be extended upon request for a further 14 days.

The process of a child being placed with an adoptive family involves consideration of finding the most suitable family for the child.

Foster care

Foster care is sometimes a good option for very young mothers or mothers who need to work through some problems (such as drug problems) before they are ready to care for their baby. The Adoption Service can tell you more about fostering. You could also talk with a social worker at the hospital. 

Foster care information: http://www.sa.gov.au/topics/community-support/foster-care 

Resources in South Australia

Resources in Australia

For information about adoption and foster care in other states of Australia have a look at Adoption and foster care on the Pregnancy, birth and baby site. Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a national Australian Government service providing support and information for expecting parents and parents of children, from birth to 5 years of age.


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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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