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3.1.7 Adoption application, assessment and approval

Last Modified: 24-Mar-2022 Review Date: 04-Jan-2021

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

​Adoption is a service that provides a family for a child who is unable, for a range of reasons, to live with their birth parent/s. It is a permanent legal arrangement (finalised by an Adoption Order from the Family Court of Western Australia, or an overseas Order recognised by the Family Court) that terminates a child's legal ties with their birth family. Full parental rights and responsibilities are given to the adoptive family.

This means the birth parents no longer have legal rights or claims over the child.  The child becomes a full member of the adoptive family. This includes taking their surname and assuming the same rights and privileges as if born to them, including the right of inheritance.

This entry does not apply to carer or relative adoption.

For information about foster carers adopting a child in their care, refer to Chapter 3.3 Carer Adoption.

Note:  CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).

Rules
  • ​The paramount considerations to be taken into account in the administration of s.3 of the Adoption Act 1994 (the Adoption Act) are:
    • the welfare and best interests of a child who is an adoptee or a prospective adoptee
    • the principle that adoption is a service for a child who is an adoptee or a prospective adoptee, and
    • the adoption of a child should occur only in circumstances where there is no other appropriate alternative for the child.
Process Maps

Adoption application, assessment and approval process map

Information and Instructions

  • Enquiries
  • Information sessions
  • Education seminars
  • Expression of interest
  • Pre-screening applicants
  • Invitation to proceed
  • Assessment seminar
  • Application
  • Health assessment and Adoption Medical Panel
  • Fees for assessment
  • Assessor allocation
  • Screening
  • Assessment Report
  • Adoption Applications Committee (AAC)
  • Outcome
  • Right of review
  • Enquiries

    ​Interested people can find information about the application process for becoming a prospective adoptive parent via:

    • the Department's website www.communities.wa.gov.au, click on 'Services' then Child Protection and Family Support
    • telephone or email, and
    • in person.
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    Information sessions

    ​Information sessions for adoption and permanent care options are held four times per year in the metropolitan area.

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    Education seminars

    ​People wishing to be considered as prospective adoptive parents are required to attend Education Seminars.

    Applicants are required to pay a prescribed fee to attend the Preparation for Adoptive Parenting Education Seminar. This seminar provides information on the benefits and challenges that prospective adoptive parents might face and the implications for the adopted child and birth family.

    If applicants are interested in adopting a child from another country, they are required to pay an additional prescribed fee to attend the Intercountry Adoption Education Seminar.

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    Expression of interest

    ​After attending an Information Session and Education Seminar (may not be applicable for regional and remote applicants), people still interested in adoption can complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) Form (in related resources). 

    If required, the Department also sends a Query of Citizenship Letter (also in related resources) and a request for a De Facto Statutory Declaration (in related resources). The Department does not accept the EOI Form if the applicants have not been together for a minimum of three years (this can be a combination of de facto and marriage).  

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    Pre-screening applicants

    ​Upon receipt of the completed EOI Form the application is commenced (r.37 of the Adoptions Regulations 1995) (the Regulations). The applicant will receive a letter confirming receipt of the forms and 

    advising them that they will receive an email providing a link to the Record Check Consent Application System (RCCAS) to complete their screening online.

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    Invitation to proceed

    ​Once the screening is finalised and it is confirmed that the applicants have met all of the requirements under s.39 of the Act, and the applicants have lodged their EOI Form within 12 weeks of completing their last Education Seminar (r.37 of the Regulations), the Department can officially invite them to proceed with their application by sending an Invitation to Proceed Letter (in related resources). Applicants will then be invited to attend an Assessment Seminar.

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    Assessment seminar

    ​Information to help applicants decide whether to proceed to an assessment and to prepare them for the assessment process is provided at the Assessment Seminar. Information provided includes the appointment of an assessor, an outline of the assessment process, the role of the Adoption Application Committee (AAC) as well as mention of the assessment and review and appeals processes available to applicants.   

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    Application

    ​Applicants are provided with an application package at the Assessment Seminar. If the person lives outside the metropolitan area, the forms are posted to them.  They must be completed and returned to the Department.

    The package includes the following (in related resources):

    • Cover letter outlining what is in the package
    • Form 712 – Adoption Application Form (one form per applicant)
    • Form 711 - Authority to Release Medical Information (one form per applicant)
    • Form 710 – Medical Examination Report for each applicant
    • Schedule 2 Information
    • Definition of Care Needs Document
    • Police Cover Letter and Request for Traffic Infringement History
    • Suitability Requirements
    • Information about the Assessment
    • Project Booklet Information, and
    • Swimming Pools, Spas, and Other Bodies of Water Information Sheet.

    The applicant must submit these forms to the Department if they choose to proceed with their application.

    Applicants who have been foster carers with another agency must complete Form 141 Consent for Release of Information (in related resources).  Form 141 allows the Department to request a copy of their foster care assessment report and information about their time as a foster carer from the other agency.  

    Dual Applicants

    Applicants who are interested in applying for both foster care and adoption are referred to as 'dual applicants'. These applicants must undergo both a foster care and adoption assessment and each assessment report must be submitted to the relevant decision-maker (i.e. Interim Approval Committee for foster care assessments and the AAC for adoption assessments).

    Dual applicants must complete one assessment at a time, that is, complete an adoption assessment before commencing a foster care assessment or vice versa.  For information on the foster care process refer to chapter 3.1 Foster Care Application, Assessment and Approval.

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    Health assessment and Adoption Medical Panel

    ​All adoption applicants are required to request a medical report from their General Practitioner (GP).

    The applicants' medical information is reviewed by the Adoptions Medical Panel Representative (who is a registered Medical Practitioner).  If required, additional medical specialist reports or test results may be  requested by the Representative before they make a recommendation as to whether the applicant is found fit to adopt or not.  

    If required, an Adoption Medical Panel will deliberate to decide the applicant's suitability to adopt.

    The applicants' capacity to adopt with any identified health issues is a recommendation only by the assessor and/or Adoption Medical Panel after consideration of the information provided by the GP and other specialists. It is the AAC who makes the final decision about an applicant's suitability or not to adopt.

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    Fees for assessment

    Once all the above forms are returned, applicants are asked to pay the prescribed fee under r.87(b) and (c) of the Regulations to continue to the assessment stage.

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    Assessor allocation

    ​An assessor will be allocated to undertake the assessment and create an 'Adoptions' activity tab in Assist.

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    Screening

    ​TThe Screening Unit is responsible for screening all adoption applicants. A Department officer/assessor must initiate screening applications for all applicants and adult household members using the online Record Check Consent Application System (RCCAS). Children 10 years of age and above who live with the applicants should be listed in the applicant's RCCAS application as a household member.

    In exceptional circumstances, where applicants or household members can't use the RCCAS to lodge their screening application (e.g. due to not having an email address or access to a computer/mobile phone), they can use the Form 395 - Record Check Consent Form (in related resources).

    The following relates to the applicants and any identified adult household members.

    Traffic Infringement History

    If the applicant's traffic infringement history results identify two or more traffic infringements that include speeding, drink driving and/or suspension of their driver's licence, within the last five years, the applicant, as per the AAC's Road Safety Policy, are asked to provide the a record of their previous five years of traffic infringements. The assessor must explore and discuss these offences with the applicant (how and why the offences occurred and how these may impact on the safety of a child placed with them and other road users). Any relevant details must be added into the assessment report.  

    Please see the AAC's Road Safety Policy for further information (also in related resources).

    Minor or non-adverse screening results

    The Screening Unit will provide the authorised officer via email, a copy of the applicant's criminal history in a Check Result Report with a Submission Template attached.

    If the authorised officer deems the results minor or non-adverse, the submission is not required and this information does not need to be added into the Assessment Report. The applicant must be given a copy of the Check Result Report.

    The authorised officer then sends confirmation to the Screening Unit to finalise the process.

    Adverse screening results

    The Screening Unit will provide the authorised officer via email, a copy of the applicant's criminal history in a Check Result Report with a Submission Template attached.

    If the authorised officer deems the results to be adverse, they will discuss the results with the applicant. The applicant will advise whether they consider that the results are correct and accurate and must be given a copy of the Check Result Report. The authorised officer completes the Submission Template provided with the Check Result Report with their recommendation and attaches the Assessment Report. The information contained in the Submission and Assessment Report will be provided to the assessor and the AAC for their consideration.

    The authorised officer sends the final version of the Submission Template (containing their recommendation) to the Screening Unit to finalise the screening process.

    Adverse Client and Child Protection Records are determined by the Screening Unit.  A memorandum outlining the adverse records is sent to the Director Adoptions and relevant Executive Director by the Manager Screening Unit, with a request for approval that the adverse records are not an impediment to the continuation of the adoption assessment.

    When all required screening assessments are completed the Screening Unit will forward a letter via email to the authorised officer confirming the screening check process is finalised and enter the Screening Unit outcome numbers into Assist.

    Referees

    The assessor contacts a range of referees to obtain further personal information about the applicant, particularly covering their child rearing years if applicable. At least two referees should be contacted for a single applicant and four referees for a couple. The number of referees contacted depends on the need to clarify specific issues and on the quality of the information provided. The assessor should make sure the applicant selects a range of people including family members, friends, colleagues, neighbours etc. At least one referee should be unrelated to the applicant.

    The Form 708 Referee Report for Adoption Applicants (also in related resources) is posted to the nominated referees to complete and send back to the Department. The referees are asked to provide evidence to support the applicant's ability to meet the Suitability Requirements. Wherever possible this information is confidential, however this cannot be guaranteed due to Freedom of Information legislation.

    The completed Form 708 must be included in the Part File that goes to the assessor when allocated an adoption assessment.

    The assessor will contact all adult children connected to the applicants. However, if there are numerous, then the assessor is required to use their judgement on how many need to be contacted if the reports from several are positive.

    If the applicant is currently working in, or has previously worked in any child-related field, then an employer or colleague should be contacted.

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    Assessment Report

    ​The assessor completes an Assessment Report which outlines the applicant's evidence supporting their competence, skills and abilities to be an adoptive parent, and makes a recommendation. 

    The Assessment Report is completed using Form 704 – Suitability to Adopt Assessment Report (also in related resources). The report should be 25 pages or less using Arial Font size 11. Exceptions can be made where the applicant is not recommended or the assessment is complex.

    The suitability requirements outlined in the report template (in line with s.40 of the Act) must be met by all applicants. The Adoption Assessment Manual (also in related resources) must be used to collect the evidence outlined in the Assessment Report. The report should include analysis of each of the suitability requirements and any relevant issues including the steps the applicant has made to address the issue and evidence of the applicant's degree of insight.

    The assessor will email a final draft of the report (minus the referee report) to the applicants. The applicants can mark any factual errors for correction. If they disagree with any of the content in the report or the assessor's recommendation, the assessor should discuss this with them. The assessor will make any relevant changes to the report. If the assessor does not agree with their suggested changes, the applicants can provide a written addendum to the report and send it to Adoption Services to be included with the information provided to the AAC at the meeting where their application is considered.

    For further information on how to complete an assessment or the Assessment Report Template, refer to the guidance in the Adoption Assessment Manual.

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    Adoption Applications Committee (AAC)

    ​Adoption Assessment Reports are considered by the AAC at a meeting held on the first Tuesday of every second month, starting in February of each year if there are sufficient matters to be considered by the AAC to warrant a meeting.

    The AAC can find adoption applicants suitable for adoptive parenthood and approve them either generally, or in accordance with categories of children set out in the Adoption Act, or find them not suitable.

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    Outcome

    ​Applicants are advised in writing of the AAC's decision and reasons after their application has been considered by the AAC. As prescribed under s.43 of the Adoption Act, the CEO is responsible for providing the written advice of the decisions of the AAC to the applicant. This task is delegated by the CEO to the Director, Adoptions, to undertake.

    Approval

    If the AAC considers the applicants suitable to become prospective adoptive parents, the AAC will approve the application. A Notice of Adoption Applications Committee Decision and Reasons Letter will be sent to the applicants outlining the approval parameters (e.g. one child born locally in Western Australia or overseas, up to 24 months of age with normal and moderate care needs), the reasons for the AAC's decision (in an attached Statement of Reasons) and details about their Right of Review.  The letter is signed by the Director, Adoptions and delivered via registered post.

    Non-Approval

    The Adoptions Act requires the CEO to provide the applicant written reasons for the decision as follows:

    • An initial letter that details that the AAC are considering not approving them as suitable to adopt, and why. The letter includes details about their rights and review processes available to them before a final decision is made in regards to their application to adopt. The letter includes information that they have the right to submit an addendum outlining their views about the concerns and that they can attend an AAC meeting in person and speak to their submission.
    • Decisions to not approve an application.
    • Decisions to approve an application where restrictions on the category of child who can be adopted have been imposed under s.13(2) of the Adoption Act, if these conditions are more restrictive than the applicant requested.

    A Notice of Adoption Applications Committee Decision and Reasons Letter will be sent to the applicants outlining the reasons for the AAC's decision (in an attached Statement of Reasons) and details about their options including a Right of Review.  The letter is signed by the Director, Adoptions as directed by the CEO.

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    Right of review

    ​Review of decision by AAC

    The AAC may review its decision to approve an applicant to adopt in special circumstances or if it is of the opinion that there is new evidence that should be considered (s.42 the Adoption Act).

    Applicants should be informed, in writing, that under s.42(1) of the Adoption Act they can submit new evidence which the AAC may take into consideration to review the AAC's decisions in regards to their application and approval/non-approval to adopt.

    Review by CEO

    Under s.110(1) of the Adoption Act, the applicant may apply to the CEO to a review of the decision where aggrieved by a decision made by:

    (a) a person to whom the CEO had delegated a function under s.6(1) of the Adoption Act; or

    (b) the AAC, or

    (c) a private adoption agency,

    The request for a review should be in writing on the form provided by the Department.  The CEO must receive the form within 21 days from the day the applicant received notice of the decision, or such further time as the CEO allows.

    The CEO reviews the decision on the material that was before the person who made the decision, and on additional material (either oral or in writing) that the CEO thinks fit to receive.

    Following review by the CEO, the CEO may do one or more of the following things under s.112(1) of the Adoption Act:

    (a) confirm, set aside or vary the decision being reviewed, or 

    (b) substitute another decision being reviewed, or

    (c) if the decision being reviewed is a decision of the AAC, refer the decision back to the AAC for further consideration.

    The CEO must give the applicant written notice of the decision, the reason for the decision and the person's right of review by the State Administrative Tribunal (s.113 of the Adoption Act).

    Review by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)

    If the applicant is aggrieved by a decision of the CEO, he or she may seek a review by the SAT (s.113 of the Adoption Act).

    The application must be made within 28 days of the date the CEO gave the applicant notice in accordance with s.112(2) of the Adoption Act.  

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