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As this website is hosted by the Department of Social Services, information will be published in accordance with the Guidance on Caretaker Conventions available from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet website.

Guide to the adoption process

We have developed a step-by-step guide for Australian families considering intercountry adoption. Learn more

Frequently asked Questions

If you can’t find the answer to your question in this section, please contact us on 1800 197 760 for a personal response. View all FAQs

Who are the children who would benefit from adoption?

Improvements in local adoption practices and changing social attitudes have made it easier for children to remain either with their families or within their country of birth. This, of course, means fewer children are requiring intercountry adoption on a global scale.

While there is variation across countries, children who would benefit from being adopted by an Australian family are increasingly older and may have special needs. Some younger children and infants do require intercountry adoption, but Australia’s partner countries increasingly have more applications than needed from people willing to parent them.

You can get more detail on this topic by visting Things to consider.

What is intercountry adoption and how does it work?

Intercountry adoption is a formal process that occurs when an Australian citizen or permanent resident, who is residing in Australia, adopts a child from overseas through the authorities in his or her Australian state or territory. The principles and standards of the Hague Convention must also be met, regardless of whether or not the partner country has signed the Convention.

The adoption process will vary slightly depending on the state or territory you live in. We have, however, summarised the key steps in Thinking about adoption. The central authority in your state or territory will provide some education on the process and challenges of intercountry adoption, give you information on how to apply, and assess your application. You must first be approved for adoption by your State or Territory government, before your application can be sent to your chosen overseas country for their approval.

If the overseas country accepts your application and is able to match a child with your family, you will be sent a placement proposal, which you will need to consider very carefully before accepting. You will need to travel to the overseas country to meet and collect your new child, and go through formal arrangements there.

When you return to Australia, you’ll be provided with post-placement support to ensure your adopted child is settling in well. You will also generally be required to provide some post-placement reports to your child’s country of birth.

To discuss the specifics of intercountry adoption where you live, contact the central authority in your state or territory.

How long does the adoption process take?

The amount of time an adoption process takes varies. It is usually a lengthy process, and waiting times of several years are not uncommon. You can find out more by visiting Things to consider or Waiting times.