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The Adoption Act (Tas) 1988 establishes that the welfare and interests of the child or adopted person shall be regarded as the paramount consideration at all times, and requires officials administering the Act to have regard to adoption as a service for children. Depending on the age and understanding of the child, the child’s wishes and feelings must be ascertained and be given due consideration.

The Act allows adopted persons over 18 years to obtain copies of their original birth records and other information concerning their adoptions, after receiving counselling. Adopted children under 18 years can also obtain copies of their original birth records and other information concerning their adoptions, but with the written agreement of their adoptive parents and each natural parent who consented to the adoption.
Under the Act, natural parents of an adopted person to obtain information concerning the adopted person with the written agreement of the adopted person, if over 18 years, or with the written agreement of her or his adoptive parents, if under 18 years.

The Adoptions and Permanency Service within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is established under the Adoption Act, as are approved adoption agencies. These bodies are authorised to:

  • provide counselling and advice;
  • establish and maintain an Adoption Information Register; and
  • facilitate the provision of information to persons on that Register.

The Act introduces additional safeguards to protect the rights of relinquishing parents including:

  • mandatory counselling prior to signing adoption consent;
  • provision of written information concerning the meaning and effect of adoption and the alternatives to adoption prior to signing consent;
  • provision for additional prescribed witnesses to the signing of consents;
  • provision for written advice to a relinquishing parent of certain events following the signing of consent.
  • Provides for the consent of the father of an ex-nuptial child to be required in certain circumstances.
  • Introduces additional grounds for dispensing with a parent's consent.

The Secretary of the DHHS is authorised under the Act to make arrangements for the adoption of children from overseas by approved persons and provides for the Secretary to exercise supervision and guardianship of such children following their arrival in Tasmania (referred to as intercountry adoptions).

Some other important aspects of adoption that the Act regulates include financial assistance available to facilitate the adoption of certain children in special circumstances. The Act restricts the adoption of children by spouses of natural parents or relatives to special circumstances relevant to the needs of the child, and provides for specific criteria relating to eligibility and approval to adopt to be prescribed by regulation in all circumstances of adoption.

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