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What is adoption?

Adoption is a legal process where a child who is unable to live with their birth parents becomes part of another family.

What are the legal effects of adopting a child?

Adoption is a permanent, legal arrangement and the person who adopts the child takes on full parental rights and responsibilities for that child.

The arrangement cuts all legal ties between the child and their birth parents, and the birth parents no longer have legal rights over the child.

The child usually takes on the family name of the adoptive family, and is given the same rights and privileges as if he or she was actually born into that family; for example, rights of inheritance.

Can I adopt a child?

To be eligible to adopt a child in Western Australia you must meet certain criteria including age and residency requirements. For more information about the eligibility criteria go to the Child Protection and Family Support (CPFS) webpage on adoption or telephone the CPFS' Fostering & Adoption Services on 1800 182 178 (freecall in WA).

Can a relative adopt a child?

In some circumstances a relative (grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle) can adopt a child. If you want to adopt a child who is a relative, CPFS needs to approve the placement of that child in your care. The Family Court will only make an order for the adoption if it decides that adoption is preferable to other arrangements that could be made for the child, and that there are good reasons to redefine the relationships in the child's family through adoption. For more information, go to the CPFS webpage on Adoption or telephone the CPFS' Fostering & Adoption Services on 1800 182 178 (freecall in WA).

Can I adopt a foster child in my care?

You may apply to adopt a foster child who has been living with you for at least three consecutive years. The child must have been placed with you by CPFS or CPFS must have approved the placement. For further information on adopting or providing long term care for a foster child, see the Child Protection and Family Support webpage on fostering and adoption.

Can I adopt my partner's child?

If you have been married to, or in a de facto relationship with your partner for three or more years, you may be able to adopt your partner's child/ren in certain circumstances.

The process can be quite complicated and requires that the Family Court make a determination that the step parent adoption is preferable to any other Family Court orders (for example, orders in relation to with whom the child is to live).

For further information, see the Child Protection and Family Support webpage on adoption.

Who can arrange adoptions in WA?

In Western Australia, CPFS, through its Fostering & Adoption Service, is the only agency allowed to arrange adoptions.

Where can I find information about placing a child for adoption?

The decision of whether to place your child for adoption is a very important one and there are many issues you will need to think about. If you are considering your options for the care of your child, you can find more information about adoption and some of the services available to assist you in the CPFS brochure Considering adoption for your child and on the CPFS webpage Pregnant and considering adoption for your child?. If you decide that adoption may be the best option for you and your child, CPFS' Fostering & Adoption Services can help you with information, support and counselling.

How can I get information about past adoptions?

The CPFS' Past Adoption Information & Services can help you find information about a past adoption or direct you to a service that will help you. Usually only people who were directly involved in the adoption can get this information. In some circumstances relatives may be able to obtain information.

For more information about past adoptions, go to the CPFS webpage Past adoption information & services or call Past Adoption Information & Services on 1800 182 178 (freecall in WA).

Where can I get more information?

 Last reviewed: 26/10/2012

Last modified:


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.