Foster carers perspectives on open adoption:


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To foster or adopt – what would influence your decision?

Recent changes to the NSW Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (the Care Act) have simplified the process for foster carers who wish to adopt children in their care. While the process may be easier, there are a number of considerations that foster carers need to weigh up if they decide to go down this path.

The Institute of Open Adoptions Studies was interested in hearing from foster carers about what may influence their decision to transition from fostering to adopting a child or children in their care.

A research team for the institute conducted focus groups with a total of 30 carers in 4 locations in NSW between October and November 2017. The aim of this research was to ensure that the views and concerns of foster carers are clearly understood and taken into account in foster care and open adoption practices.

Why was the study conducted?

In late 2014 the Care Act was amended to emphasise the importance of permanency for children for whom there is no realistic chance of restoration to their birth family or kinship care.

The amended legislation:

  • introduced specified time frames for decisions about returning children to their parents

  • emphasised the importance of permanency for children

  • streamlined the process for authorised carers to adopt a child or young person in out-of-home care.

This study was interested in exploring foster carers’ understanding of the legislative changes and the barriers and enablers in considering transitioning from fostering to open adoption.

Why was this study important?

  • Further research is needed to better understand the support needs of children in care and their families.

  • The focus group study is an opportunity to engage directly with caregivers in NSW and learn more about their perspectives on open adoption.

This research has been approved by The University of Sydney’s Human Research Ethics Committee and is subject to strict privacy and confidentiality requirements.

Where can I find out the results of this study?

We are currently preparing a summary of the major findings relating to factors that foster carers consider when deciding whether to adopt the children in their care and their experience of birth family contact. The report will be available here:

  • Institute of Open Adoption Studies (June 2018). Open adoption of children in NSW out-of-home care: Foster carers’ perceptions. Summary (pdf, 768kB)

If you would like more information about this research or the Institute of Open Adoption Studies, please go to or send an email to