All hearings for applications under the Adoption Act 1988 are conducted by the Youth Court. The Minister for Child Protection and the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection are given responsibilities under the Act. The Court must give notice of any Application lodged under the Adoption Act 1988 to the Chief Executive (unless that person is the Applicant) as the Chief Executive has the power to intervene in such Applications.
Anyone seeking an adoption-related order is required to lodge their application at the Youth Court Registry using the prescribed form (which can be found by clicking on the link on the right-hand side of this page). The Application will be listed for a directions hearing to determine matters such as service of documents and consent prior to the final order being made.
It is usual practice for the Judge of the Youth Court to hear all adoption applications. Applications are heard in a closed court and for Applications for an adoption order, the applicants and the child to be adopted must appear in court. Any record of court adoption proceedings is not open to inspection unless authorised by the Court.
 

Before Lodging an Application with the Court

By the time an adoption-related Application is lodged with the Court, most of the preparation work has already been completed. The Department for Child Protection is South Australia’s authority to provide adoption support, advice and information, and are responsible for placing children with prospective adoptive parents.
The Department will inform the Court as to the parties’ consent to the adoption of a child and the suitability of the applicants to adopt the child. To contact the Department for Child Protection, use the link on the right-hand side of this page.
 

Applications for an Adoption Order

The Court has power to make an adoption order in relation to children under the age of 18, as well as people over the age of 18 who have had a significant relationship with the adoptive parent/s before the age of 18. These orders may be made in favour of one or two people who reside in South Australia. Unless the Court is satisfied that special circumstances exist, an adoption order will not be made in favour of two people unless those people have been in a qualifying relationship for at least 5 years.
 
Once adopted, the child becomes the child of the adoptive parents and they become the parents of that child.
 

Applications to Discharge an Adoption Order

A party to an adoption order may apply to the Court for that order to be discharged if it appears that the adoption order was obtained by fraud, duress or improper means, or that it is in the best interests of the adopted person for the discharge order to be granted. Upon making a discharge order, the Court may also make any consequential orders it sees fit.
 

Children From Overseas

Adoption of children from overseas is dealt with under the Intercountry Adoption Program which is governed by the Adoption Act 1988 and national and international arrangements. Only applicants whose names are on the Prospective Adoptive Parents Register can be placed with an overseas child by the Department for Child Protection. They must also meet the minimum requirements of the country they wish to adopt from. Where the adopted child is from overseas, the applicants will usually have had the child living with them for a reasonable period of time prior to making the application for an adoption order, to ensure that the child is settled into his or her new environment.
 

Statutory Guidelines

The Adoption Act 1988 provides that the Court will not make an adoption order unless it is satisfied that adoption is in the best interests of the child and it is clearly preferable to any alternative order that may be made under the laws of the State or the Commonwealth.
 
The Act also sets out the following objects to be applied in its administration:
  • To emphasise that the best interests of the child, both in childhood and in later life, is the paramount consideration;
  • To promote the principle that adoption is a service for the child;
  • To ensure that adoption law and practice assist a child to know and have access to his or her birth family and cultural heritage;
  • To recognise the adoption of children from other jurisdictions;
  • To ensure that adoption law and practice complies with Australia’s obligations under treaties;
  • To encourage openness in adoption; and
  • To allow access to certain information relating to adoption.
Before making any adoption order relating to a child over the age of 5, the Court must interview the child and consider any opinion expressed by the child.
 

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Forms, Fees and Rules

Related Links

Contact Us

For further information, contact the Youth Court Registry:
 
p: +61 8 8204 0331
f: +61 8 8204 0333
youthcourt@courts.sa.gov.au
 
Location:
75 Wright Street
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000
 
Postal Address:
75 Wright Street
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000

Contact Us

For further information, contact the Conferencing Unit:
 
Family Conference Enquires
p: +61 8 8204 0594
f: +61 8 8204 0513
familyconference@courts.sa.gov.au
 
Family Group Conference Enquires
p: +61 8 8204 0594
f: +61 8 8204 0591
careandprotection@courts.sa.gov.au
 
Location:
75 Wright Street
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000
 
Postal Address:
Attn: Conferencing Unit
75 Wright Street
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000
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