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Western Australia - Glossary Term

Open Adoption (1995 - )


Open adoption is when an adoption occurs with no secrecy, the child can know who their birth parents are and the birth parents have the right to keep in contact with the child. The open approach to adoptions has occurred in Western Australia since 1995. It can be compared to closed adoption practices of the 20th century and the effects these had on many people involved in adoption.


In an open adoption, the child has a right:

  • To know about the adoption before an application is made, if they are old enough to know
  • To have, and 'continue to have' information about the parent(s) of their birth
  • To be able to maintain a relationship, 'free from pressure' with the parent(s) of their birth and their extended family if possible

The parent who consents to the adoption of their child has 'an opportunity to be actively involved' in the legal and other processes of the adoption.

The Department for Child Protection and Family Support's guide for step-parents who are considering adoption explains the difference between open and closed adoption:

In the past it was thought that secrecy was in the best interest of all parties to adoption. However over the years, these secrecy provisions have caused a lot of distress to those affected by adoption. Extensive research found that many adopted people want to know about their original family heritage without necessarily affecting the close relationship with their adoptive family. Adoptive families, it has been found, often lived under the strain caused by the pretence and secrecy they felt compelled to maintain.

Related Legislation

  • Adoption Act 1994 (1994 - )

    The Adoption Act 1994 made it possible for adoption in Western Australia to be an open and transparent process for all parties.

    Date: 1995 -


Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: Department for Child Protection Western Australia, 'Adoption by a Step-Parent', in Adoption website, Department for Child Protection Western Australia, Government of Western Australia, May 2009,

Prepared by: Debra Rosser