Intercountray Adoption Victoria Assessment Standard No.7 Child

IAV Assessment Standard No.9
Child Wellbeing (Retention of name)
Intercountry Adoption Victoria (IAV)
1. Scope
This standard should be read in conjunction with the Intercountry Adoption Victoria (IAV) Manual and other
IAV Assessment Standards
This standard applies to all employees of IAV, contractors to IAV and applicants to the IAV at each stage of
the IAV process including application, assessment and post placement support.
This policy outlines the IAV expectation that supports and encourages the retention of the name first given to
an adopted child either by their birth family or original carers.
2. Relevant Legislation
Section 35e of the Adoption Regulations states:
(e) the applicants have the capacity to provide a stable, secure and beneficial emotional and physical
environment during a child's upbringing until the child reaches social and emotional independence;
(f) the applicant’s have the capacity to provide appropriate support to the maintenance of a child’s cultural
identity and religious faith (if any);
3. Background
Children adopted from overseas experience significant trauma and loss. In addition to the adoption process
a child may have spent a period of time in the care of a foster family or institution following a relinquishment
or removal process from his or her family of origin.
IAV requires that adoptive parents demonstrate their commitment to supporting their child in maintaining
close links to their culture and country of origin. It is important for any child adopted from overseas to retain a
strong sense of their heritage and identity.
Children recognise their name and begin to respond to this from about 4-5 months of age, sometimes even
Children adopted from overseas have already experienced significant loss and emotional damage.
Maintaining their name can reduce this loss and demonstrates a sign of respect to the child’s birth family and
/or the overseas country from which the child was adopted. This is a significant loss that you as a parent can
prevent your child from experiencing.
Adoptive families may feel that renaming of a child assists in the process of them settling and identifying with
the family and may protect them from racial difficulties. Despite an anglicised name, it will remain very evident
that the child is from another country. A name change alone will not make him or her immune to prejudice and
you will need to develop strategies to sensitively deal with these issues. An adopted child will always take the
surname of adoptive families and some families incorporate anglicised middle names which both reflect their
place and role in the family.
Victoria and indeed Australia is multi-cultural and most schools, kindergartens and playgroups have children
from all nationalities and backgrounds in attendance. It is no longer unusual for children to have non anglicised
names and rarely does this alone cause difficulties for them.
Many adult adoptees whose names were changed by their adoptive parents, report the experience of
emotionally reclaiming their birth names at later stages in their lives. This is a psychologically significant event
for adoptees regardless of whether their original birth name was selected by their birth parent(s) or carers at an
orphanage; it is a vital link to their heritage and to their sense of self.
4. Requirement
There is no legal requirement in Victoria for adoptive parents to retain their child’s name. The only Australian
state to legally require this in Australia is NSW. In the assessment however IAV requires that prospective
parents are able to articulate the importance of supporting the child’s identity through retaining their connection
to their history and culture and demonstrate the capacity and commitment to maintain this.
5. Key Responsibilities and Authorities
IAV is responsible for ensuring the overall responsibility for the implementation of this policy, review of this
policy and dissemination of this policy to staff, contractors and applicants to IAV.
IAV recommends that adopted children’s birth names be retained. In rare instances there may exist special
circumstances that would indicate that renaming a child is in their best interests but this would be unusual and
should occur only in consultation with the Intercountry Adoption Victoria.
6. Resources and Support
 Intercountry Adoption Victoria. 20/570 Bourke Street Melbourne. Victoria 3000. Telephone 8608-5700 or
1300 769 926.
If you would like to receive this publication in an accessible format, please phone (03) 8608
5700 using the National Relay Service 13 36 77 if required.
This document is available as a Word document on the internet at:,-guidelinesand-legislation/intercountry-adoption-service-assessment-standards
Authorised and published by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne.
December 2015
IAV Assessment Standard 9 Child Wellbeing (Retention of name)