ADOPTION AND PERMANENT
Where to Start
If you are considering taking on the permanent care of a child (including through adoption), we recommend you first read our information on How Adoption Works In Australia.
As each state has its own legislation, agencies and variables, the next step is to assess the options for providing a permanent home to a child in TAS and determine which is right for you.
Currently in TAS there are five possible pathways for providing a permanent home for a child:
- Local adoption
- Intercountry adoption
- Adoption from foster care
- Long-term guardianship
- Long-term foster care
The Department of Communities Tasmania is the government agency responsible for providing adoption services in TAS.
DCT does not approve very many people for local adoption, but aims to have a pool of applicants of varying backgrounds and characteristics approved for local adoption to meet the various needs of the children for whom adoption is being considered.
In TAS children might have an adoption plan made by the birth parent(s) to place them for adoption; children are usually under the age of one in these cases. The birth parents are often involved in the selection of adoptive parents for their children. The prospective adoptive parents provide a non-identifying profile for this purpose.
Applying to Adopt a Child – Local
In TAS the process for applying to adopt a local child has 3 stages including:
- application and assessment
- allocation and placement
- adoption order.
You can find out more information about the stages here.
DCT also manages the applications and assessments for those applying to adopt children through one of Australia’s intercountry adoption programs.
The role of DCT is to ensure that those applying to adopt children through these programs meet the requirements for adoption, that they have received the appropriate training and information, and to ensure that appropriate post-adoption support is received.
There are administrative and legal costs relating to a local and intercountry adoption in TAS.
Additionally, intercountry adoption involves costs such as air-fares when you travel to meet and bring home your child, and visa and immigration fees.
For both local and intercountry adoption you should also factor in the time you will spend away from the workforce in order to support, and form a relationship with, your adopted child when they return home with you.
More information about adoption can be found here.
To adopt a child in TAS you must be at least 18 years of age, resident or domiciled in TAS, and meet legislated eligibility criteria for adoption applicants.
If you wish to be approved for intercountry adoption you will need to indicate which country you are applying to and meet the eligibility requirements for that country as well as the requirements for SA.
Information about the various intercountry adoption programs and criteria can be found on the Intercountry Adoption Australia website.
Applying to Adopt a Child – Intercountry
In SA there are 5 stages in an overseas adoption process including:
- attending information sessions
- assessment and registration as prospective adoptive parents
- application to the overseas country
- matching and placement of a child
- post-adoption supervision, case work and support.
You can find out more information about the stages here.
For both local and intercountry the DCT. If you are approved, you will be considered a ‘prospective adoptive parent’.
Intercountry adoption applicants’ approved assessment reports will be forwarded to the overseas adoption program for consideration, and the final decision as to whether your application is approved is made by the overseas adoption authority.
The Department of Communities Tasmania has committed to a re-design of the out-of-home-care system in TAS. The Family Based Care model will form the basis of a new system and will align with the approach taken in many other Australian States and Territories. Permanency Planning will form an important part of the new priorities. You can read more about the reforms in TAS here.
If you are already a Foster Parent/Carer your Case Manager/Social Worker or other qualified person should discuss in detail the pros and cons of adoption, Guardianship and long-term foster care for your family. The following information provides an overview in summary.
Under a Guardianship order, a child or young person is not in foster care or out of home care, but in the independent care of their guardian.
A Guardianship order means that the carer is the lawful guardian of the child or young person to the exclusion of the rights of any other person.
A guardian is a person who provides a caring, safe home for a child or young person until they turn 18 years old. Guardians have full care and responsibility for a child or young person in their care. Guardianship orders can be made for a child or young person who needs care and protection or who is currently in out-of-home care.
Guardianship is for a relative or kinship carer (or sometimes an authorised foster carer), who is considering seeking long-term full parental responsibility for a child or young person.
Under a guardianship order, a guardian takes on full parental responsibility of the child or young person, making all decisions about their care until they reach 18 years of age. However, the Carer and child will still receive some support from Child Safety Services.
It is worth noting that many states are now extending the leaving care age until 21. Given this, we anticipate that guardianship orders will now also extend to 21 but you
should seek specific guidance from your case worker about this.
A guardian can be a relative or kinship carer, a family friend or an authorised carer who has an established and positive relationship with the child or young person.
Applying to become a Guardian
Anyone wanting to become a guardian will go through a detailed review and assessment process. This may include seeking the views of the child or young person, their family and their carer.
The Children’s Court makes the final decision about a guardianship order being made and will take into account the child’s best interests in making a decision about the child’s future.
If a child has lived with a carer for an extended period of time and restoration to their birth family or Guardianship to a member of their extended family is not considered appropriate, the Foster Parent/Carer may be able to apply to adopt the child in their care.
In TAS there are no specific rules on how long a child has to have been living in your care in order for adoption to be possible. However, adoption will only be considered where the child or young person is already on a long-term care order. Consent to the adoption is required from:
- the child, where capable;
- the birth parents, unless this requirement is dispensed with; and,
- in the case of Indigenous children, Aboriginal organisations with a connection to the child and/or family.
Foster Parents/Carers should let their Case Manager know that they wish to adopt.
Applicants should be aware that even for existing Foster Parents/Carers the assessment process is still rigorous and can be lengthy.
You can find out more information about the stages involved in local adoption here.
Long-term Foster Care
Permanency Planning is an important element of the DCT approach and will become one of the foundation principles of the new Family Based Care model.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the placement principles prioritise placements within family, community or with other indigenous carers. Placement with non-indigenous carers is considered the option of last resort. However, due to a lack of options for kinship care, a majority of Indigenous children and young people are placed in non-indigenous foster or institutional care.
To apply to become a foster carer in TAS you can be single, married, in a defacto relationship or same-sex relationship. To be eligible you must be:
- over the age of 21 years
- an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- be a resident of TAS
- in good health and, if female, not undergoing fertility treatment
- without a serious criminal record
Applying to become a foster carer
The Department is always in need of carers:
- who can offer emergency care or short-term care
- to care for Aboriginal children
- to care for children with a disability
- to care for sibling groups (two or more children and/or young people).
As with Guardianship and Adoption, applicants must submit an expression of interest, go through a detailed assessment process, and attend pre-approval training.