Many people would not be aware, that when a child is adopted  their Identity is changed and they are issued with  a new indistinguishable post adoption Birth Certificate that states the adopting couple are the natural parents ‘as if born to’ and their Original Birth certificate is no longer legally valid. It is filed away and can not be accessed by the adoptee until they become of age at 18 years old .

When they receive their Original Birth Certificate It is no more than a souvenir of who they were.   

 “Those who are not adopted but have spent time researching their own families should be able to understand this simple and basic plea…” as a ‘not adopted’ person this sounds perfectly reasonable.”(Douglas Haynes) 

Preservation of Rights and Identity

Article 7 – UNCROC

(1) The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

(2) States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.

Article 8 – UNCROC
(1) States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.

(2) Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, Article 8 states parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.

In her thesis Adopted Persons Access to and Use of their Original Birth Certificates;   An Analysis of Australian Policy and legislation, Miriam Mandryk considered Article 8 of part 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was relevant to the issue. The section in question states; 

” Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance protection, with a view to establishing speedily his or her identity “10! 2.13 The Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices (2012)

We draw the  attention to Article 7 and Article 8 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Australia in 1999. Article 7 provides that inter alia, it is the human right of a child to have from birth a name and as far as possible to know his or her parents. Further, Article 8 provides that, inter alia, it is the human right of a child to preserve his or her identity.

We believe that currently Sections 52, 56, 70 of the Adoption Act 1984 (Vic) and Regulation 38 of the Adoption Regulations 2008 (Vic), breach these fundamental human rights.

A child’s right to a true and correct identity is protected by the issuance and retention of their original birth certificate from birth until death.

We believe that every child has a basic human right to use as their primary form of identification being an unaltered, original birth certificate recording all the true details of their birth. A birth certificate is issued to legally register every birth. It is a vital record, documenting the facts of a birth. It memorializes the arrival of each and every human being, setting the date, time, and location of that auspicious and unique event. Birth, death and marriage certificates are vital documents to help genealogists establish relationships of family members historically. Such certificates are used to build the basic structure of a family tree but also more widely, of the interconnection of our community.

The majority of people have one original birth certificate which serves to verify their age and citizenship as the basis for all of one’s identification such as driver license, passport, and social security. Birth certificates connect the child to its ancestral line and as such serve a critical role in genealogy.

We believe that the practice of adoption has historically been manipulated by many who have held the adoptive parents interest as paramount to those of a child’s. The historical secrecy of adoption still remains alive in the Adoption Act 1984 (Vic) in so far as a child’s identity is artificially recreated by the provision of the new post adoption birth certificate.

We believe adoption will only be truly and completely transparent in Victoria when there is legislation amendment to enable adoptees to retain the original birth certificate. Currently the adopted child/person is issued with an indistinguishable post adoption birth certificate and the original is filed away and no longer carries any legal status.

We believe that  Birth certificates are not parenting certificates.People who seek to adopt had nothing to do with the child’s conception and birth therefore have no right to be on the adopted child’s birth certificate. The creation of such false birth certificates by the Adoption Act 1984 (Vic) effectively cuts a child off from their entire family of origin, commodifies the child and transfers ownership of the child to genetic strangers. The issuance of the  post adoption  birth certificate,  creates new owners of the property/child which has nothing to do with the child’s birth.

We believe that birth certificates should always be an accurate reflection of genealogy and birth certificates should not be seen as a certificate of parenting.

We believe it is possible to protect the roles and rights of non-biological adoptive parents without the need to remove a natural parent  from the birth certificate. therefore we recommend:

  1. That the current post adoption birth certificate that is created for an adopted child be immediately discontinued for future adopted children;
  2. That the adopted child maintains its original unaltered birth certificate as its primary form of identification and of evidence of their family of origin;
  3. That the certificate of Adoption that is currently issued in the adoption act 1984 sect 52 to establish only the new legal parenting arrangements;
  4. That the Certificate of Adoption be further modified to include a clause setting out continued responsibility and obligation after the child is over 18 years of age and any other clauses that would be deemed necessary for the adoptive parents to use as their primary form of identification document establishing their role as the adopted child’s guardians/ legal parents.

Precedents that show other countries do not sever the legal rights of the child from connection to their natural family

Islamic rules emphasise

to the adoptive family that they are not taking the place of the biological family — they are trustees and caretakers of someone else’s child. Their role is very clearly defined, but nevertheless very valued and important.
An adopted child retains his or her own biological family name (surname) and does not change his or her name to match that of the adoptive family.

Thailand, France and Ethiopia all  have adoption legislation that enables retaining the legal recognition of the family of origin whilst creating a new relationship with adoptive family. Such adoptions are called simple adoptions.

Ethiopian adoption legislation states,
Addis Ababa 4th Day of July, 2000 Chapter 10
Article.181. — (2) Effects. Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 182, an adopted child shall, for all purposes, be deemed to be the child of the adopter.
Article. 183. — Relationship of the Adopted Child with the Family of Origin.
1) The adopted child shall retain his bonds with the family of origin.
2) The same shall apply to the spouse and the descendants of the adopted child Federal. Negarit Gazette of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia The Revised Family Code

.The Revised Family Code – Refworld

 French: adoption simple

Simple adoption  is a type of adoption which allows some of the legal bonds between an adopted child and his or her family to remain. It is formalized under articles 343 and following of the French Civil Code.
Simple adoption is less restrictive in its requirements and less radical in effects than plenary adoption.

We are not  suggesting that the Victorian Adoption act become a mimic of the above policies but to recognise that there are precedents where the child’s rights to maintain its identity along with legal connection to its birthright, not merely knowledge  but maintains the legal connection to  family extended family and heritage

The proposal of an Integrated Birth Certificate

We oppose the introduction of a post adoption integrated birth certificate which includes adopters as parents for future adoptions such integrated birth certificates on the basis that the integrated birth certificate does not go far enough to respect the adoptees right to his or her true identity.

The post adoption integrated birth certificate may be relevant to past adoptions especially from the closed adoption era for those who wish to have one but We do not believe such a proposal will resolve the issue of true identity for future adoptees especially now that open adoption is the preferred option and there is no need for secrecy as was in the closed  adoption era.

We fear that the introduction of the integrated birth certificate could mean that children who are adopted in the future will grow up with either the same post adoption Birth Certificate that we adult adopted people grew up with and the original Birth Certificate will be shelved and made legally irrelevant. The child will be given a new identity  the same as we are.

Will they  be able to have their natural parents added “for those that want it” on to the post adoption Birth certificate perhaps at 18 years of age?

Or their BC will be integrated from the start removing the right of choice for future adoptees. Will they be able to add or remove either sets of parents ?

The issues for us adult adoptees  from the Closed and past Open adoption era are:

• There are Adoptees that want to leave their ancestry behind, those who wish to identify only with their adopted family.”

• And there are those who would like a post adoption integrated birth certificate that could show ancestry and kinship was severed and thus it would show who they became and remained for the rest of their life and who their children’s children became.

• And there are those that would like to have no identity change in the name of care and want their original unaltered Birth certificates back and be able to live as the person that they were born as.

The integrated Birth Certificate dose not resolve the above three wishes for Adult adoptees 

We believe for adult adoptees the government should give each group what they want considering the mistakes of the past “with no fuss”

-1 For those that want to identify only with their adopted family.”
The government should do nothing just continue on with the post adoption birth certificate

-2 For those who would like a post adoption integrated birth certificate.
The government should Pass it and supply it through application to BDM

-3 For those that would like to have no identity change and want their original unaltered Birth certificates reinstated to live out their lives as the person that they were born as
The government should give it to them via a No fault Discharge ‘keep it simple’     (see comments)


Then for future Adoptions “The child maintains its birth identity and keeps its original birth certificate as the primary source of identification.
The adoptive parents for legal parent identification use the certificate of adoption. All that is needed is the usual court Order of Adoption that is used with the original Birth Certificate to prove  name change if appropriate and legal parenting This process is exactly the same as women using a Marriage Certificate to prove their name change or marriage. When someone consents to your adoption you are not actually adopted until the actual court order by the Supreme Court. So this is the real adoption document that evidences the adoption and legal parentage.”(Dr Catherine Lynch)

When the Adopted infant /child becomes of age then they can choose If they wish to identify with their adopted family as well as their natural family by adding the adopters to the original Birth certificate. (Integrated OBC) if they so wish to do so.

Those that want to leave their ancestry behind, those who wish to identify only with their adopted family.can also by applying to BDM for a post adoption Birth Certificate that changes the child’s/adult identity. can also do so if they so wish

Those that want to get a discharge from their adoption and identify as the person they were born as, can, with out having to prove fault or irretrievable brake down via a No Fault fuss free Discharge can also do so if they so wish .


They don’t restore my relationship to my grandmother, my great-great grandmother, or even my mother. These are still strangers to me according to the law. I’m not next of kin to my own mother and could marry a sibling.

Writing my real parent’s names on my birth certificate without restoring the true connections is the equivalent of the window dressing of putting a commemorative stamp on certain birth certificates.

Additionally, I don’t consider adopters have a place at all on a birth certificate – there can be subsequent certificates which recognise legally bestowed ‘parenthood’ which don’t need to replace the blood connections.

Many adopted people find the idea of harmonised “”birth”” certificates to be an insult.”(Sharyn White)


If they could only produce one option for the future, then I would like it to be the one that enables the original birth certificate without a new, fake ID for the adoptee. 

I, personally, would love an integrated birth certificate because I am 61 and it would amalgamate my life of imposed identity from birth. However, I have to think more broadly because my life has been lived and is nearly over. I feel the need for a solution for babies yet to arrive. I hope they have a less confusing search for identity than I have had. I hope they can have the right to know who they are from birth and the right to be who they are and not live with a fake ID forever against their knowledge or will. “(Sandra Barker)

Overall, we contend that integrated post adoption birth certificates may have a place for some adult adoptees but not all adoptees from past adoption practices. However, NOT for future adoptions. It dose not serve to address the issues of legal severance of a child from their ancestry , heritage and blood line nor dose it address the issue of true identity.

We adopt the position of Joan Wheeler:

“Creating a new document recording both birth and adoption on one certificate, as some people suggest, is ridiculous because birth and adoption are two separate events with adoptions finalised anywhere from a few months after birth to several years later (No One Should Place False Facts on Birth Certificates “-.(Joan Wheeler)

We advocates for the retention of one original birth certificate in addition to a Certificate of Adoption, for future adoptions so that reality and truth are retained and consequently identity is protected. 


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