Access to adoption information

You are here


South Australia, South Australia and Edinburgh, Scotland

The South Australian government was the first in the world to pass legislation lifting the restrictions which prevented mothers who had lost children to adoption from knowing the new identity of their child, once the adopted child had reached adulthood. Mothers who have lost children to adoption in South Australia have had a legal right, once their children become adults, to receive a copy of their child’s amended birth certificate (ie the one which is issued after the adoption takes place and supersedes the original birth certificate), since the passing of the Adoption Act 1988. This allows the mother to know the new name given to the child after the adoption, the names of the adoptive parents and their address at the time of the adoption. Adults who were adopted as children in South Australia have a similar legal right, when they are adults, to receive a copy of their original birth certificates. This provides the name they were given at birth, as well as the name and address of their mother at the time of their birth. Other information from the adoption file is often also available. The children of an adult who was adopted as a child and any other children born to a mother who lost a child to adoption have a legal right to access identifying information, either with the permission of the party involved in the adoption separation or after their death. There is currently the option for some parties to veto the release of identifying information, however. In Scotland, although adults who were adopted as children have always had access to their original birth certificates when they are adults, mothers, or other family members, have no right to receive any information at all about their children after they have been adopted.


There have been enormous changes in attitudes since 1970 and there is now much more acceptance of single parent families.