Glossary

Adoptee – a person who has been adopted.

Adoption – the legal process by which a person legally becomes a child of the adoptive parent(s) and legally ceases to be a child of his/her existing parent(s).

Adoption Compliance Certificate – a certificate defined by both the Family Law (Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption) Regulations 1998 and the Family Law (Bilateral Arrangements—Intercountry Adoption) Regulations 1998. Essentially, this is a document issued in the overseas country where the child was adopted that affirms that the adoption is made either under the Hague Convention or the country’s laws, and, in the case of a Hague adoption, that the relevant authorities have agreed to the adoption.

Adoption order – a judicial or administrative order, made by a Central Authority under adoption legislation, by which the adoptive parent(s) become the legal parent(s) of the child.

Adoptive families – a family consisting of at least one adoptive parent and one adoptee.

Accredited Body – is a term derived from the Hague Convention and refers to an organisation accredited by a Central Authority to perform some of the central authority’s functions.

Applicant – a married couple, a de facto couple or a single person applying to adopt a child or children from one of Australia’s adoption partner countries.

Australian Central Authority – is a term derived from the Hague Convention. The Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department is the Australian Central Authority, with responsibility for ensuring that Australia meets its obligations under the Convention.

Central Authority – is a term derived from the Hague Convention. Each country that signs the Hague Convention is required to have a central authority to implement the Convention. The Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department is the Australian Central Authority for intercountry adoption under the convention. Because Australia is a federation, there is also a central authority in each state and territory responsible for managing adoption applications and assessing eligibility and suitability to adopt. A Central Authority can also refer to a government body within a partner country that, under the Hague Convention has authority to manage overseas adoptions.

Country of origin – the usual country of residence of the child being adopted. This is generally the child’s country of birth.

Domestic / Local adoptions – adoptions of children who were born or permanently residing in Australia before the adoption and who are legally able to be placed for adoption. These children have generally not had previous contact or relationship with the adoptive parent(s).

Domestic / Local known child adoption – adoptions where the child(ren) were born or permanently residing in Australia before the adoption, who have a pre-existing relationship with the adoptive parent(s) and are generally not able to be adopted by anyone other than the adoptive parent(s). Known child adoptions include adoptions by step-parents, other relatives and carers.

Expatriate adoption – a specific type of adoption that occurs when an Australian citizen or permanent resident living overseas for 12 months or more adopts a child through an overseas agency or government authority. Australian adoption authorities are not responsible for, and given the risks do not condone, expatriate adoptions, nor do they assess or approve applicants for such adoptions.

Foster care – where the caregiver is authorised and operates under the State or Territory child foster care system to provide care for a child or children.

Habitual resident of Australia – refers to someone who usually resides in Australia and is either:

  • an Australian citizen;
  • the holder of an Australian permanent resident visa; or
  • an eligible New Zealand citizen.

For more information on habitual residency requirements please visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (referred to as the Hague Convention) – is an international convention which establishes safeguards to ensure that overseas adoptions take place in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights as recognised in international law.
For more information visit the Hague Permanent Bureau.

Hague Permanent Bureau – is the secretariat of the Hague Conference and carries out the basic research required for any subject that the Conference takes up. It also maintains and develops contacts with the National Organs, experts and delegates of Member States and the Central Authorities designated by the States Parties to the Hague Conventions on judicial and administrative co-operation, as well as with international organisations and, increasingly, responds to requests for information from users of the Conventions (lawyers, notaries, officials, companies, journalists, private persons, etc.). For more information, visit the Hague Permanent Bureau.

Known non-relative adoption – the adoption of a child who is known to the adoptive parent(s).

Non-government organisation (NGO) – any non-government organisation that provides services to the community on a non-profit-making basis.

Out-of-home care – where a child(ren) aged 0– 17 years is cared for outside the family home, often within the State or Territory child protection or foster care system.

Post-adoption support – support proved or available to adoptive families. This term is usually used in reference to State or Territory provided support provided after the period of post-placement support and supervision.

Post-placement supervision – the supervision requirements specified by overseas countries or your state and territory. Your State or Territory Central Authority will inform you of and assist you with meeting these requirements. For more information please contact your local Central Authority.

Relative adoption – is the adoption of a child by a biological relative, such as an aunt or uncle.

Relative/kinship care – where the caregiver is a relative (other than parents), considered to be family or a close friend, or is a member of the child or young person’s community (in accordance with their culture).

Respite care – a form of out-of-home care used to provide short-term accommodation for children and young people where the intention is for the child to return to their prior place of residence. Respite placements include:

  • respite from birth family, where a child is placed in out-of-home care on a temporary basis for reasons other than child protection (for example, the child’s parents are ill or unable to care for them on a temporary basis; as a family support mechanism to prevent entry into full-time care; as part of the reunification process; or as a shared cared arrangement)
  • respite from placement, where a child spends regular, short and agreed periods of time with another carer other than their primary carer.

Special needs adoption – an adoption of a child or young person who:

  • exhibits physical, intellectual or cognitive disabilities requiring additional learning and development support; or
  • has conditions that are deemed to pose potential barriers to permanent placement and/or affect the outcome of an adoption, such as behavioural disorders, medical condition(s), being part of a sibling group, or is an older child.

Subsequent sibling adoption – the adoption by an Australian family of a biological sibling of a child they have already adopted.

Subsidiarity principle – is recognition that a child should be raised by his or her birth family or extended family whenever possible. If that is not possible or practicable, other forms of permanent family care in the country of origin should be considered. Only after due consideration has been given to domestic solutions should intercountry adoption be considered, and then only if it is in the child’s best interests. Further information on the subsidiarity principle and other guiding principles of the Hague Convention can be found in the Implementation and Operation of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention: Guide to Good Practice.