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Guardianship and open adoptions

What is Open Adoption and Guardianship and how do they differ?

Every child deserves a permanent, loving and stable home for life.

Open Adoption and Guardianship can deliver to children, young people and their foster families, greater transparency and a better chance of maintaining good relationships with birth parents when restoration is no longer possible.

Guardianship orders aim to provide greater stability for children and young people when the Children’s Court makes a decision that they cannot live with their parents. 

Similarly, Open Adoption also aims to provide greater stability for children and young people. The difference is that Open Adoption is an Order for Life made by the Supreme Court.

In both instances, the carer becomes the legal guardian for the child and must be able to independently co-ordinate a positive and ongoing relationship with the child’s extended family.


When a child or young person cannot live with his/her own parents or extended family, a safe place is required for them to stay. Children in Out of Home Care can be provided permanent homes by authorised relative, kinship or foster carers becoming their legal guardians. These orders can be made on or after the time of a final order being made in the Children’s Court. The court order means the child exits Out of Home Care and the carer becomes his/her independent guardian until s/he is at least 18 years of age.

To become the legal guardian the carer/s need/s to demonstrate an established, positive relationship with the child or young person and display a willingness and ability to independently manage the child or young person’s care. Guardianship is a realistic and achievable option providing greater permanency and stability for the child or young person to live in a nurturing and safe home.

As a guardian you have the full care and legal responsibility for the child/young person including making independent decisions about his/her health, education and managing contact with family and significant people. 

Your CatholicCare caseworker can assist you to become the guardian for the child or young person in your care. Please contact a member of the CatholicCare team to find out more. 

Open Adoptions

Due to the permanency of an Adoption Order, identifying it as being in the best interests of the child or young person is paramount.

Open Adoption is being encouraged for all children who are unable to remain with their families or be placed with kin, because research indicates the outcomes for children in Out of Home Care are improved significantly when they have a secure and stable home. The earlier we can get this right for them, the better.

Whilst Open Adoption is a permanent approach and the carers become the legal parents, there must be a committed and ongoing focus on connecting and maintaining sibling and family relationships.

The act of adoption creates new families. Taking the time to understand the relationships and unique dynamics of the birth family is essential. Openness in adoption is about so much more than the mutually agreed contact between adoptive families and birth families. Openness is the way we start and conduct conversations with our families. Openness is an attitude that CatholicCare will support you to develop with birth families during your journey to becoming the legal parent/s.

Your CatholicCare caseworker can assist you to become the legal parent for the child or young person in your care. Please contact a member of the CatholicCare team to find out more. 

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