Domestic/local adoption

Domestic/local adoptions are also managed by the central authority in your state or territory.

As with intercountry adoption, there are some risks and factors to be aware of.

Views within Australian society about adoption and child-rearing have changed significantly over the past few decades. There have been shifts in social attitudes, changes to laws, and improvements to standards of living.

Raising children outside marriage has become accepted, and more support has been made available to single parents.

This has generally meant there are fewer Australian children for whom adoption is considered appropriate.

Legislation and responsibilities relating to domestic/local adoption

Each state and territory has its own legislation that governs domestic/local adoption practices. The relevant state or territory agency works to ensure that local adoption practices follow the regulations set out by their government.

For local adoptions, the guardianship of a child for whom general consents for adoption have been signed will, in most cases, reside with the state or territory department responsible for the adoption.

For some approved non-government adoption agencies, the guardianship resides with the agency’s principal officer.

The guardianship of a child remains in force until the adoption order is made, or consents for adoption are revoked, or until some other specified event occurs (such as when a suitable and willing relative is able to care for the child).

Talk to the central authority in your state or territory for more specific information about domestic/local adoption.

What if I want to adopt an Australian child I already know?

These situations are called ‘known child adoptions’, and are administered by the department responsible for adoption in each state and territory.

The majority of known child adoptions are by step-parents wishing to incorporate children into a newly formed family, or by long-term carers, such as foster parents.

The aim of this type of adoption is to provide the child with a clear legal position, status and stability within the new family arrangement.

Adoption by relatives other than step-parents is less common. This is because most states and territories have policies that promote the use of parental responsibility orders (such as permanent care and guardianship/custody orders), rather than adoption, when a child is to be permanently cared for by another relative.

Adoptions by relatives are generally discouraged, as they might confuse and distort biological relationships. For example, if a child was adopted by his/her grandmother, the birth parent would legally become the child’s sibling.

In most states and territories, legislation allows carers or relatives other than step-parents to adopt a child only in exceptional circumstances. These circumstances are generally when a parental responsibility order would not adequately provide for the welfare of the child.

Known child adoptions by people who are not carers or relatives, such as by surrogate parents, are uncommon in Australia.

Talk to the central authority in your state or territory for more specific information about domestic/local known child adoptions.