The role of the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in relation to adoption

The role of the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) in relation to adoption is set out in the Adoption Act 1984. The Adoption Act is available at legislation.vic.gov.au (External link)

In accordance with the Adoption Act, BDM can:

  • register adoptions
  • create birth certificates for adopted people and
  • provide information about adoptions to Approved Adoption Information Services and eligible people affected by adoption.

For more information please see services provided to people affected by adoption.

Adopting a child

BDM has no authority to arrange adoptions. Adoption arrangements in Victoria can only be made by the Department of Health and Human Services or an approved adoption agency. If you are interested in finding out about how to adopt a child, go to dhs.vic.gov.au/adoption (External link).

Access to original birth certificates of adopted people

To obtain the original birth certificate of a person who was adopted, you must apply through one of the Approved Adoption Information Services.

Exceptions: you may apply directly to BDM if you are:

  • a natural parent of the adopted person, or
  • an adopted person who can demonstrate knowledge of the contents of the birth certificate (For example, a person is adopted by a man who marries the adopted person’s natural mother after the person’s birth. The person grows up with the person’s natural mother and adoptive father. There is no father listed on the person’s original birth registration).

Access to legal birth certificates of adopted people

Adopted people have the same access to their legal birth certificates as non-adopted people.

Apply for your legal birth certificate.

Before 1987 the legal birth certificate of an adopted person was called a “Sixth Schedule”. There is less information on a Sixth Schedule birth certificate than there is on current birth certificates. People who have an original Sixth Schedule birth certificate may return it to BDM and apply in person or by mail for it to be replaced with a full birth certificate. There is no fee for this service.

From 1987-1993 the legal birth certificate of an adopted person was known as “Form 21”.

Since 1993 legal birth certificates for adopted people have looked the same as legal birth certificates for non-adopted people.

Access to adoption related records

BDM holds all of the Melbourne County Court adoption records from before 1988. BDM also holds some Petty Sessions records and Supreme Court records.

Since 1988 BDM has received and held the Memoranda of an Adoption Order. The Court Records have been kept by the Court granting the adoption.

To apply for a copy of an Adoption Order please contact an Approved Adoption Information Service.

Support services for Victorians affected by adoption

FIND

The free Family Information Networks and Discovery (FIND), an approved adoption information service, can help people affected by adoption by:

  • seeking copies of adoption records;
  • helping locate and contact (where possible) family members separated by adoption; and
  • providing referrals to support and counselling services.

Ph: 1800 130 225

E-mail: findduty@dhs.vic.gov.au (External link)

VANISH

The Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self Help (VANISH) has regular support groups and can refer people affected by adoption to counsellors. VANISH can also help people search once they have received their adoptions records.

Web: vanish.org.au (External link)

Anglicare Victoria :

Ph: 03 9396 7400.

Web: anglicarevic.org.au (External link)

Catholic Care:

Ph: 03 9689 3888.

Web: ccam.org.au (External link)

Connections :

Ph: 03 9521 5666

Web: connections.org.au (External link)

Learn more about History of adoptions in Victoria