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What is adoption?

adoptionAdoption is when someone from one family is chosen to be part of a new family.

It is a legal way to create a parent-child relationship between people who are not related by blood. The adopted child will have the same privileges as a natural child of the parents. The adopted child usually takes the name of the new family, and is brought up and cared for as if she or he had always been part of the family.

Why do people adopt children?

People adopt children for many reasons:

  • Maybe they want to have a family, but cannot have children of their own.
  • Maybe they want to have legal responsibility for a child in their family who is not their birth child (such as when a child is adopted by a step-parent).
  • Maybe they want to give a place in their family to someone who needs a family.

There are many reasons why a child needs a family.

  1. Maybe the child has lost his or her parents.
  2. Maybe the child has come from another country where there has been some disaster, such as war, famine or flood, and there is no family to take care of the child there.
  3. Maybe the birth mother has decided to put her child up for adoption because she wants her child to have the best life possible, and does not feel that she is able to provide that.
  4. Every child needs to be cared for. Adoption is a way to give a child a family who will care for him or her when that child is most in need of such care.

Feelings about being adopted

It is quite normal for adopted children to have mixed feelings at times, about their adoption, and to want to know the answers to at least some of these questions:

  • adoptionWho were my birth parents?
  • What are they like?
  • Who do I look like?
  • Why was I adopted?
  • What happened to my birth parents?
  • Did they want me?
  • Will I ever see my birth parents?
  • Will they want to contact me? Do I have to meet them?
  • Do I want to contact my birth parents? How do I do it?
  • Do I have any brothers or sisters?

If you have always known that you are adopted, then these feelings may not be very strong.

If you have just found out that you are adopted, you may feel very confused and even angry.

What you can do

You can feel special, because you were chosen for adoption by your parents.

  • Talk to them about your feelings and ask the questions that are worrying you.
  • Be aware that they may not have all the information to be able to answer all your questions.
  • Also be aware that these people love you, so they will understand if you are confused or feel sad, hurt, or like you have been abandoned by your birth parents.
  • They may be feeling nervous and afraid of losing your love.
  • If it is hard to talk to your parents, then maybe you can talk to someone else in the family or another trusted adult.
  • Writing your feelings down is a good way to work out how you are feeling.

adoptionMaybe you know of other kids who are adopted. You could ask if you could go to a group for adoptees, where you could talk with others, and have the support of others who know how you feel.

Maybe you feel unhappy in your adopted family. Many children, as they are growing up, find it difficult to communicate with their parents. The problems between you may not be because you were adopted.

If you feel unsafe or cannot find someone to listen to your worries, you can always ring the KIDS HELPLINE on 1800 55 1800. It is a free call, and there will be someone there at any time to listen to and help you.

What kids say 

"My parents adopted kids of four different nationalities. We all look different but we are all part of one family."

"I always knew that I was adopted, and when I grow up I may look for my mum and dad."

"I know that I have no family because of a war. I love my Australian family but I don't look like them."


"When I was little, if I got into trouble I used to dream that my 'real' family would come one day and that it would all have been a mistake. I also dreamed that they were really rich! Life isn't like the movies. I know that I'm lucky to have people who love me and share their lives with me. They are my real family."

Dr Kate says:

Dr Kate"Adopted children, just like other children, may not like one or both of their parents from time to time. Sometimes a visit to a Counsellor can help.

If you have been adopted from outside the family or from overseas, and want to know more about your birth mum or dad, you have the right to access information when you are 18 years old. "

In South Australia you can find out what to do by looking at the site of 'Adoption Services' . There are people who will be able to help you. Relationships Australia also provides services for people who have been adopted and their families 'Post Adoption Support Services'.

I''m adopted, butmy family is nice and I''m happy

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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