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Growing Your Family: Learn About Open Adoption And Fostering

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Barnardos Australia

An increasing number of LGBTQ+ parents in Australia are building their families through fostering and open adoption. But many people in our community don’t really understand what fostering and open adoption are. And finding your way through the complex array of information - and misinformation - out there can be a challenge. Rainbow Families is here to help!

We are excited that Barnardos Australia has become an annual supporter of Rainbow Families. As part of working with Barnardos, they will bring clarity and confidence to our community by sharing information on what open adoption is, the different types of foster care options available and answering some frequently asked questions that they hear from potential parents. 


Who is Barnardos Australia

Barnardos Australia is here because every child needs a champion. We listen, we act, and we advocate for the safety of children at risk of abuse and neglect, providing family support programs and services that empower children to reach their full potential. 

We help children to recover and thrive, and we find safe homes for them through foster care and open adoption. We are always looking for foster carers and adoptive parents with lots of love, time and support to offer a child the positive difference and nurturing home that they deserve. 

We warmly welcome members of the LGBTIQ+ community and have done since 1985 when we began our open adoption program in NSW. 

We understand that our carers come to fostering or adoption for a range of reasons – unique to each individual. We believe our carers are ordinary people doing extraordinary things for children and young people. 

As an experienced and accredited out-of-home care and open adoption service provider, we are committed to working in partnership with you, and, supporting you throughout your caring journey. 


Open Adoption:

Through the provision of our open adoption program over the last 35 years, Barnardos has developed a high level of expertise, knowledge, and practice wisdom regarding open adoption.


What is open adoption?

Open adoption in NSW is different to past adoption practices. Adopted children are supported to remain connected to their family and cultural heritage. Adoptive parents follow an agreed adoption plan, which includes the ways they will support their child’s cultural identity and contact with their family members. 

Open adoption gives children who cannot live with their birth parents, relatives or kin, the opportunity for a secure future and a family for life. The adopted child becomes a legal member of the adoptive family through a formal court process, whilst still maintaining contact with their birth family which helps them to form a healthy sense of identity.

Having “openness” around their adoption means children know who they are and where they come from through birth family connection. This openness, knowledge, and understanding help adopted children to form a healthy sense of identity and belonging, which is essential for their emotional, intellectual, and physical development. Open adoption also means the child is no longer part of the foster care system.


Foster Care:

Barnardos provides different types of foster care including:

  • Respite Care (caring for a child or young person from 1-2 nights per month)
  • Short Term Care (providing day-to-day care for a child or young person until decisions regarding their permanent care are made e.g. restoration or return to the care of their parents; placement with relatives or kin; Open Adoption; Guardianship; Permanent Care; or, transition to independence)
  • Permanent Care (offering a consistent stable permanent care family to support children and young people throughout their journey to their 18th birthday)


Who can be a foster carer or adoptive parent?

You must be at least 25 years old and in good health. You can be married or single, with or without children. We welcome carers regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, culture or religion. All foster carers and prospective adoptive parents need to be Australian citizens or permanent residents and be willing to undergo background checks.


Can I be a foster carer or adoptive parent if I work?

Yes, depending on the age and needs of the child - and the flexibility of your work. For open adoptive and permanent care arrangements, we ask that the primary carer can be at home for at least the first six months of the placement to help the child settle in. Many of our carers who care for school-age children work full or part-time, and respite carers are usually people who work full-time but can spend one weekend a month with a child. 


How do I become a Barnardos Australia foster carer?

Our Barnardos foster and open adoption program extend across the Sydney Region, from the Hunter in the north, to the Illawarra / Shoalhaven in the south, and west to Orange and Mudgee. 

If you would like to know more about fostering or adoption with Barnardos, please phone our friendly Carer Enquiry Team (1800 663 441) or complete our online become a carer enquiry form, and we will contact you to discuss further. 


We invite you to check out our Barnardos website ( which features inspirational stories from our foster carers and adoptive families. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I foster children of a specific age or gender?

You can specify the age range or gender of the child you would like to foster or adopt. Our carer recruitment team will discuss your preferences with you and assess your lifestyle to match the needs of a child to you and your individual situation. We generally do not place children in households where there are children of the same age group. 


What support will I receive from Barnardos Australia?

Support is available to all our foster carers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our case managers provide assistance, support and regular home visits to ensure the needs of both the child and the carer are being met. Foster carers and prospective adoptive parents receive ongoing training and can participate in regular supported activities and gatherings to meet other carers and share their experiences.


Will I have contact with the child’s birth family?

Yes. It is vital that children in care know who they are and where they come from. They need carers with a positive and encouraging attitude towards their birth family. As a foster carer or prospective adoptive parent, you will play a crucial role in helping the child maintain a relationship with their birth family by participating in family time visits.


The court decides the frequency and type of contact and largely depend on the age of the child, legal status, and their relationship with their birth families. Contact usually includes face-to-face visits, letters, telephone and video calls, emails, photos, and cards.

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