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What is adoption?

Adoption Act 1955, ss 11, 16

Adoption involves substituting the adopting parents as the new parents of the adopted child in place of the birth parents. The child will then be treated, for all legal purposes, as if they were naturally born to their new parents and will no longer be treated as if they were born to their birth parents.

The birth parents and any existing guardians of the child also stop being guardians of the child when the adoption order is made (for the role of guardians, see “Guardianship of children” in this chapter).

Adoption must promote the welfare and interests of the child.

What’s the difference between being a guardian and being a parent?

Care of Children Act 2004, ss 8, 15, 29

Both parents and guardians have all the rights and responsibilities of a guardian (see “Guardianship of children” in this chapter), unless a court order says otherwise.

There are some major differences between being a parent and being a guardian:

  • guardianship ends when the child turns 18 or enters into a de facto relationship, civil union or marriage, but a parent remains a parent for the child’s entire life
  • a child has the right of succession in relation to their parents (that is, the right to inherit their property), but not in relation to guardians
  • it’s easier to remove a guardian of a child than it is to take away a parent’s guardianship rights and responsibilities.
Next Section | Who can be adopted
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