Tuesday, November 24, 2020

NSW Integrated Birth Certificates to allow children to include both birth and adoptive parents

NSW Integrated Birth Certificates to allow children to include both birth and adoptive parents

When Felicity and Adam Moreau adopted Christian a couple of years ago, they also embraced his birth parents as part of their family.

Three-year-old Christian now lives in Erskine Park in Western Sydney and his birth parents regularly have video chats with him and they meet up several times a year.

“We treat them like extended family. We’re in each other’s lives forever, and they treat us the same way,” Felicity said.

When Christian gets older, he’ll be able to decide if he wants to include both sets of parents on an Integrated Birth Certificate (IBC), which people who are adopted can now apply for.

The certificate includes information about an adopted person’s parents and siblings at birth, and parents and siblings after adoption.

Christian Moreau speaks regularly to his birth parents.(ABC News: Bindi Bryce)

Anyone adopted before November 16 can apply for an IBC; anyone adopted after that date will be issued a post-adoptive birth certificate.

Both are legally recognised and will allow the adopted person to use whichever they choose.

“It’ll give Christian the option, later in life, about which birth certificate he wants to use for his ID. And it’s important for him and his life story,” Felicity said.

A dummy example of the new Integrated Birth Certificate.
An example of the new Integrated Birth Certificate.(Supplied: NSW Government)

The NSW Government has made the changes to complement its open adoption policy, which mandates that adopted children must know early on who their birth families are, and be able to keep in close contact.

The amendments to the Adoption Act were brought in in August.

Since 1965, adopted people have only been able to have their new parents and siblings listed on their birth certificate.

Crucial part of identity

One of the state’s largest family care organisations, Barnardos, who helped the Moreaus adopt Christian, says children must know about their heritage.

“The ones that come into foster care, often have had that very rough start in life. So knowing their origins as well as living with a stable, permanent, new family is going to ensure that they have good outcomes as they grow into adults,” said CEO Deirdre Cheers.

According to Barnardos, the number of open adoptions is rising in NSW, with 160 coming out of the foster care system just last year into new families.

Adam Moreau says it has worked out well for Christian, with his former foster family and his birth parents keeping in touch with him.

“We keep them in the loop and they’re basically another Nan and Pop for him, and another Aunty for him,” he said.

“He’s got a lot of people that love him and do have his best interests at heart.”

Felicity and Adam Moreau with their son, Christian.
The Moreau family welcome communication with Christian’s birth family.(ABC News)

South Australia has already introduced the new birth certificates and the ACT Government is also looking at bringing them in.

The NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward, said it was completely up to the adopted person to choose what they wanted on their birth certificate.

“It’s nice to be able to say to them that you now have a choice to reflect on your birth certificate, your life’s journey,” Mr Ward said.

“For some, it may well be just their adopted parents, but it’s important that we empower people to make that choice for themselves.”

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