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Birth Certificates for Children Whose Adoptions Were Finalised Overseas

In order to protect the privacy of our children, and the ignominy of having to produce the abandonment notices and related paperwork every time an official document was needed, lobbying was undertaken by FCCA and other adoption –related groups and individuals to create new legislation. Eventually, it has been successful. There will be one official government document acknowledging that our children were born overseas ( in China) , were adopted and are now are officially our children. It is called their Birth Certificate. There are some variations to the outcome depending on what State you live in. This is the current situation:

NSW

Several NSW Birth Certificates have been issued over the last few months. As of 29 October 2013, children whose legal adoptions were finalised overseas with FACS’ assistance are now entitled to obtain NSW Birth Certificates. Adult adoptees (18 years and over) and the legal guardians of adoptees are able to apply for a NSW Birth Certificate for a child when his/her adoption was finalised in a country covered by the Hague Adoption Convention, or a prescribed overseas jurisdiction, and FACS authorised the adoption.

In order for a NSW Birth Certificate to be issued, the Intercountry Adoption must first be registered by NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages. To enable that registration to occur, FACS must receive an application from you requesting FACS (Family and Community Services) to notify NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages of the Adoption. In the first instance phone: (02) 9716 3000 and you’ll receive the requisite forms and instructions to move the process on. Although it’s currently slow, the certificates are being issued without a problem.

TASMANIA

Unlike other states, Tasmanian families who want a birth certificate must apply to the Magistrates Court for an order to register their child’s birth/adoption. There are a number of forms that need to be completed. To make the process easier to start Leah Bonfili is able to provide the templates that applicants can use to fill in their specific information. You may contact her at leahbonfili@fastmail.com.au or Leah.Bonfili@utas.edu.au and she will send the required documents and talk you through the process , if you like, on 0447 632 599.

VICTORIAN BIRTH CERTIFICATES

The Victorian adoptions of children from China can now be registered by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Victoria (BDM), on the instructions of the Department of Human Services Intercountry Adoption Branch. (DHS ICAS)

Once an adoption is registered, adoptive parents (or the adult child) can apply for a Victorian birth certificate for the child.

Families who adopted children AFTER 1 July 2013 will NOT need to apply to have their adoption registered.  Families who adopted BEFORE 1 July 2013 will need to fill in the relevant form to request that the adoption be registered.

Applying for a Victorian birth certificate for your child involves five steps.

  1. Complete the request form (attached) and send it to DHS ICAS, Level 20, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000
  2. Wait for confirmation from ICAS that the adoption has been registered
  3. Apply online at www.bdm.vic.gov.au  for your selected birth certificate
  4. Pay the relevant certificate fee and prepare your proof of identify documents (police station certification required) to send to BDM
  5. Receive the birth certificate by mail

As this is a new process, there is no clear timeline for the process to take place.  Families are advised to allow at least 6-8 weeks for the full process, although it may take significantly less when the initial backlog is completed.

When filling out the online birth certificate request for the first time, please choose “Proof of event” as the reason you require the certificate.

BDM advises that in the section for family name and given name at birth, you should use your child’s name at adoption, not their original Chinese name (which is on the documents held by BDM).  You must choose Victoria as the state of birth for the online application to proceed, but the system will allow you to type in the Chinese town if you wish.

In the comments box, confirm the child’s town as per your Chinese documents and include a comment that this is an application for a child adopted from China.

Once you have completed the form, you will go to a payment page (currently $29.50 for a standard birth certificate) and, once you have paid, you will receive confirmation of payment and a receipt number. You will need this number when sending in your proof of identity documents to the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, GPO Box 4332, MELBOURNE VIC 3001.

You can also lodge your documents at a Justice Service Centre (see www.bdm.vic.gov.au for further information)

For any BDM queries, you can call Melinda on 03 9613 5878.

The following information is provided by DHS ICAS:

Amendments to the Adoption Act 1984

Registering the adoption of a child whose adoption was finalised in a Hague Convention country

On 1 July 2013 the Adoption Act was amended to enable the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to register the adoption of a child whose adoption was finalised in a Hague Convention country. This enables the issue of a Victorian birth certificate in respect of the child.

The Victorian Government committed to this amendment following consideration of the recommendation made in the Australian Government report Overseas Adoption in Australia, Report of the Inquiry into the Adoption of Children from Overseas (2005).

Registering adoptions finalised in Hague Convention countries

From 1 July 2013 the State Central Authority (Department of Human Services, Intercountry Adoption Service) must cause a memorandum of an adoption that was finalised in a Hague Convention country to be sent to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, who will then register the adoption.

This will enable the Registrar to issue a birth certificate for the child when an application is made by the adoptive parent(s).

For those adoptions finalised after 1 July 2013, the practice will be for Department of Human Services Intercountry Adoption Service to send the memorandum soon after the child arrives in Victoria.  For adoptions from Hague Convention countries finalised before 1 July 2013, a memorandum will be sent by Intercountry Adoption Service, if requested in writing by the adoptive parent(s), or by the child if over 18.

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Attorney General’s Dept

For information about individual adoption applications contact your state or territory central authority.

We are responsible for making sure that Australia meets its obligations under the Intercountry Adoption.

Our department does not process adoption applications. This is the role of the state and territory central authorities. State and territory central authorities assess the eligibility and suitability of people wanting to adopt a child from overseas against criteria outlined in their own legislation. They also manage the adoption application process.

Australia has arrangements with a number of countries.

Country programs update

The Australian Central Authority has recently received advice about the number of Australian files that can be submitted to South Korea and Thailand in 2014. More information on Australia’s 2014 file assignments can be found on the South Korea and Thailand pages.

Automatic recognition of adoptions from Taiwan and South Korea

On 4 March 2014, the Prime Minister and Attorney-General announced the commencement of amendments to the Family Law (Bilateral Arrangements-Intercountry Adoption) Regulations 1998. These amendments mean that families adopting through the Taiwan and South Korea programs can have their adoptions recognised in Australia, without needing to go to a state or territory court. The amendments also affect Ethiopian adoptions not yet finalised in Australia. Details about the impact of the amendments can be found on the Prime Minister of Australia website.

For more information on how these changes will apply, families should contact their state or territory central authority.

Interdepartmental committee

On 19 November 2013, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of an interdepartmental committee on overseas adoption. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is chairing the committee. If you wish to share your views and suggestions on this issue, email intercountryadoption@pmc.gov.au. All comments will be considered by the committee and may be shared with relevant Australian, state and territory government departments and agencies. The closing date for input is 20 February 2014.

Our department is represented on the committee.

The committee will investigate ways to improve Australia’s intercountry adoption system to help inform discussions at the next Council of Australian Government meeting in April 2014. Further information can be found on the Prime Minister of Australia website.

Expansion of Taiwan program

The Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) has agreed to accept applications from prospective adoptive parents living in the ACT. General information about the Taiwan program, including CWLF’s eligibility criteria, is available on the Taiwan page. If you are interested in finding out more or making an application, please contact the ACT Central Authority.

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