Adoption permanently transfers the parental rights and responsibilities of natural parents over to adoptive parents.

Children are our most precious asset. There is no more serious commitment in life than raising and nurturing children; to share their joys and sorrows, to honour their love, to pass on your experience to a new generation. These aren't just the privileges of parenthood; they are duties and obligations.

Sometimes, for many different reasons, children need to be raised by a family other than the one they were born into. This enables them to benefit from the commitment of parenthood.

Adoption in Victoria

Adoption in Victoria is the legal process by which a child becomes a member of a new family. Making the decision to give up a child is never easy. But sometimes situations arise where natural parents feel it is impossible to raise their child. In these situations they voluntarily relinquish all their legal rights and responsibilities in relation to their child, and an adoption order is made by the County Court of Victoria. Adoption arrangements in Victoria can only be made by the department or an approved adoption agency.

Since adoption legislation was first introduced in 1928, around 64,000 Victorians have been adopted. The number of adoptions has decreased since the 1970s. This is largely due to the increase in social acceptance of single parent families and de facto relationships. Government benefits for single parents and improved access to contraception and abortion are also important reasons for this trend.

Adoption is not the only way of bringing a child into your family. Permanent care is another. Both options provide children with the care and love they need to grow and prosper.

For more information, see Applying to adopt an infant in Victoria.

Adoption orders

When an adoption order is made, the natural parents no longer have any legal rights over the child. The adopted child becomes a full member of the new family, taking their surname and assuming the same rights and privileges as a birth child, including the right of inheritance. A new birth certificate is issued.

The order may include ongoing contact with the child’s birth parents and other relatives. Children’s lives do not suddenly come into being when they’re adopted. They have a past, which cannot be forgotten and which should be acknowledged. Their beginnings are a precious part of who they are and must be accepted, nurtured and valued by their new family. Older children, such as children with special needs or stepchildren, may also be adopted.

Changes to the Adoption Act 1984

The Victorian Law Reform Commission has conducted an inquiry into the modernisation of the Adoption Act 1984.

For more information, including the terms of reference, consultation paper and report, please visit the Victorian Law Reform Commission's Adoption Act page.

Permanent care and becoming a parent

Children placed in permanent care come through Child protection services. Unlike adoption, it is not a voluntary placement. The department makes decisions about the safety of children, and for a few this sometimes means they are unable to return home to their birth parents or other relatives. In these cases the decision is made for permanent care.  For more information see, Permanent care or register your interest in permanent care by visiting the Adoption and permanent care enquiry page.