For the first time in NSW, adopted people will soon be able to include both their birth and adopted families on official birth certificates.
New reforms introduced to state Parliament in August seek to amend the Adoption Act 2000 and the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995 to authorise the issuing of an integrated birth certificate (IBC), recognising both sets of parents.
Under the current law, a birth certificate issued by the Registrar of Births Deaths & Marriages after an adoption records only the child’s adoptive parents and any adoptive siblings, with no reference to birth parents.
NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the new certificates would be “a further step away from the secrecy associated with the adoption policies of the past”. “Open adoption means that adoptive and birth families now know about each other, exchange information and often have direct contact to enable children to connect with and understand their background,” Ward said in a statement.
“This announcement will … enable a person to use a birth certificate that records their connection to their birth family and their culturalheritage.”
NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said the changes will properly recognise an adopted person’s full history. “For many adopted people, their current birth certificate does not reflect their life story, who they are and where they came from,” Speakman said.
Once the proposed amendments pass, newly adopted people will be issued with an integrated birth certificate along with the existing post-adoptive birth certificate that is provided after adoption. Both will be legal identity documents, allowing the holder to use whichever they prefer.
NSW leads the nation in adoptions from out-of-home care, with 162 formalised in 2019/20 compared with a handful in other states. A report presented to the government last year by Professor Megan Davis urged legislative change to ensure adoption is not an option for Indigenous children.