Please note this page was last updated in January 2024.
Humanitarian Crisis and Intercountry Adoption
In Australia, overseas adoptions are only facilitated if the principles and standards of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) are met.
The Hague Convention guards against illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad and contains certain rules to ensure that adoptions take place in the best interests of children with respect for their fundamental rights. This includes the subsidiarity principle, which means that children should be raised by their birth family or extended family whenever possible. If that is not possible, other forms of permanent care in the child’s country of habitual residence should be considered first. Intercountry adoption is only considered after care options in the child’s country of habitual residence have been fully explored, and then only if it is in the child’s best interests.
Australia, along with UNICEF, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Confederation of the Red Cross, in accordance with the Hague Convention, shares the view that intercountry adoption is problematic for children impacted by humanitarian crises and states of emergency.
Displaced children who are separated from their parents or relatives due to a humanitarian crisis cannot be assumed to be orphans or in need of adoption until the relevant authorities complete family tracing. Until such time, each separated child should be considered as still having living relatives or legal guardians and, therefore, not in need of adoption.
There are a range of ways you can offer support to children affected by a humanitarian crisis. Australians looking to provide support to people are encouraged to donate cash (not goods). The Australian Council for International Development has various appeals which directs funds to Australian NGOs responding to international emergencies. You can find further information on how to donate responsibly at Emergency Aid – ACFID.
Reactivation of the India-Australia intercountry adoption program
Australia began the reactivation of the India-Australia intercountry adoption program using a careful, staged approach in April 2019.
During this initial stage of the reactivation, two jurisdictions – Queensland (Qld) and Northern Territory (NT) – have been assessing a small number of people and forwarding files of suitable applicants to the Indian adoption authority for consideration and action.
The remaining state and territory governments continue to monitor processes and be guided by key learnings before determining their future involvement.
This staged approach is allowing Australian federal, state and territory governments to closely monitor the initial cases and build our understanding of the new safeguards and standards introduced in India’s revised intercountry adoption program. This approach will help the reactivated program to operate as smoothly as possible.
Interested parties living in Qld and NT can contact their central authority for further information or to express their interest in the India program:
- The Qld Department of Child Safety, Seniors and Disability Services can be contacted by phoning either 07 3097 5100 or 1800 647 983 (Qld only) or by emailing email@example.com
- The NT Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities can be contacted by phoning 08 8922 5519 or by emailing TFHC.Adoptions@nt.gov.au
The Philippines program remains on hold. In 2018, the Philippines Government advised that they will not be accepting adoption applications from Australia. This also includes for the adoption of a relative or known child.
We are discussing options with the Philippines Government to resolve the program hold.
Families or individuals who are affected by this hold may wish to seek support from the Intercountry Adoptee and Family Support Service.
South Korea has informed Australia that the South Korean Central Authority will not be accepting new applications from Australian prospective adoptive parents in 2024.
South Korea has advised that due to the decreasing number of children available for adoption and a change in government adoption policies, waiting times for prospective adoptive parents will be prolonged.
The Thai Central Authority will not be accepting new applications from Australian prospective adoptive parents in 2024.
Applications may still be accepted for children with special needs.
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