Anyone considering placing a child for adoption with anyone other than relatives should make arrangements to see a social worker at an approved adoption agency or the DHHS’s Adoption Services.
Opportunity is given to fully discuss all options, including arrangements other than adoption. If a person finally decides on adoption, the agency will make arrangements for consent to be given and for any care of the child needed before placement with an adoptive family.
Where a person intends to consent, or has consented, to their child being adopted, an adoption agency can arrange for the child’s care. This is done using a Child Care Agreement (sch 19 Adoption Regulations), which authorises the adoption agency to exercise the parent’s right to custody of the child.
While the agreement continues, the parent can resume the custody of the child by withdrawing from the agreement. Withdrawing from the agreement does not cancel consent to adoption. The agreement ends either when the parent withdraws from the agreement or when all the consents needed have been given or dispensed with by the court.
Once all consents needed have been given (or dispensed with), the Secretary of DHHS or the principal officer of the adoption agency becomes the guardian of the child. Both parents retain the right to guardianship and custody until this occurs.
If a parent has given consent and another consent is still required, both parents retain the right to guardianship and custody even if consent to adoption can no longer be withdrawn.