Prior to the changes made by the Adoption (Review) Amendment Act 2016 (SA) from 15 December 2018, upon notice of an adoption, the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages would cancel any entry formerly made in the register and make a fresh entry containing the names of the adoptive parents. This was the case unless the birth parents consented to the former entry remaining with a note only, and the Court so directing.
Now in every case a note only is added to any entry formerly made with the names of the adoptive parents or (if the child's birth is not yet registered in South Australia) an entry Is made containing the date and place of birth of the child, the names of the child's birth parents (if known) and the names of the adoptive parents [Adoption Act 1988 (SA) s 41].
No one is able to access information in the register of births relating to an adopted person until the adopted person is 18 years of age, unless all the parties to the adoption agree to the information being accessed earlier and give the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection a consent notice [s 41(2)-(3)]. If the Chief Executive gives the Registrar the consent notice, then the Registrar may allow a party to the adoption earlier access to the information in the registry (including access to a cancelled entry) [s 41(4)(a)].
If the Registrar has not been given a consent notice, the Registrar may not allow access by the adopted person or the adoptive parents to a cancelled entry or to information in an entry relating to the birth parents or the name of the adopted person before adoption [s 41(4)(b)(i)], nor the birth parents access to the names of the adoptive parents or the name of the adopted person following the adoption [s 41(4)(b)(ii)].
A consent notice may be revoked at any time by any party to the adoption and ceases to have effect when the adopted person turns 18 years of age [s 41(5)].
Restricting access to/Accessing identifying information
Where an adoption occurred prior to the commencement of the Adoption Act 1988 (SA) (i.e. 17 August 1989), a birth parent had the ability to direct the Chief Executive not to authorise the adopted person access to a cancelled entry. Such a direction was effective for a period of five years and could be renewed by the birth parent.
From 15 December 2018, under the new section 41A of the Act these directions from birth parents are being phased out with all directions expiring within five years from the commencement of the new provisions (i.e. 15 December 2023). Existing directions will remain in effect from 15 December 2018 but they will not be able to be renewed, as was previously the case.
After these directions expire, the Registrar will be able to allow access to information in the register by a person adopted before 17 August 1989.
Under the new section 41A, the Registrar may also generally allow access to cancelled entries (which are not the subject of a direction) to a birth parent or the adopted person, if they are aged 18 years or more.
Due to the issues that will be raised for many people as a result of these changes the Department for Child Protection is providing support during the transitional period. Support can also be sought from the Post Adoption Support Service of Relationships Australia (SA).
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