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Please note this page was last updated in April 2022.

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 all 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 Philippines program

The Philippines program is still 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.

The South Korea program

South Korea has informed Australia that the South Korean Central Authority will not be accepting new applications from Australian prospective adoptive parents in 2022. Advice regarding the acceptance of adoption applications for 2023 will be provided once available.

The Taiwan program

Please note: From April 2022, the Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) will be accepting applications for children younger than 48 months. However, in order to meet the needs of children, CWLF will be prioritising families who are only willing to adopt children with more complex family background and special needs.
Families that are not willing to adopt children with complex family backgrounds and special needs are unlikely to be considered by CWLF.

The Thailand program

Thailand has informed state and territory central authorities that the Thai Central Authority will not be accepting new applications from Australian prospective adoptive parents in 2022.

Applications may still be accepted for children with special needs.

Travelling or planning a trip overseas?

Intercountry adoptions are still taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, however this is bringing a new set of challenges and complications for prospective adoptive parents to consider and navigate. We encourage those planning to travel to visit Smartraveller including their Destinations page and Planning to travel during COVID-19 page.

Humanitarian Crises 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 (the Hague Adoption Convention) are met.

The Hague Adoption 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.

For example:
In circumstances such as the current security situation in Ukraine, Australia, along with UNICEF, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Confederation of the Red Cross, in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention, shares the view that intercountry adoption is problematic for children impacted by humanitarian crises and states of emergency such as the security situation in Ukraine.

This is because the resource efforts of the relevant authorities are heavily focused on managing the immediate care needs of children and searching for family. In these circumstances, it is very difficult for authorities to fully implement their safeguards to protect children affected by a security situation, such as what is happening in Ukraine. Therefore, intercountry adoption is only considered once authorities in the child’s country of habitual residence have the capacity to complete family tracing and establish there are no appropriate local placement options for the child.

Refugee or displaced children who are separated from their parents or relatives due to the security situation in Ukraine cannot be assumed to be orphans and 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.

The Permanent Bureau of The Hague has also advised countries who receive refugee or displaced children separated from their family due to the security situation in the Ukraine to observe caution with respect to intercountry. This caution aims to avoid a situation in which the child is unwarrantedly placed with prospective adoptive parents (PAPs), and where the process of bonding and integration begins but then has to be terminated because legal obstacles or irregularities emerge. Such a situation has the potential to pose serious harm to the wellbeing of the child, the family of origin and the PAPs.

If you are interested, there are a range of ways you can offer support to children in Ukraine. Australians looking to support people in Ukraine are encouraged to donate cash (not goods). The Australian Council for International Development has an appeal which directs funds to Australian Non-Government Organisations responding to the crisis in Ukraine. If you haven’t already done so, you may also wish to check UNICEF: Ukraine, for further information on how to provide relief to children in Ukraine.

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