Things to consider

Adopting a child from overseas can be life changing, but there are also some unique challenges in the intercountry adoption process.

Firstly, you need to consider whether you’ll be able to continually provide the support your adopted child will need. It will be up to you to provide a stable and supportive family environment—and you will need to do so until your child reaches independence or, in some cases, for the rest of their life.

Many overseas children requiring intercountry adoption have special physical, intellectual or behavioural needs such as:

  • health problems ranging from minor and correctable to complex and requiring ongoing treatment or management
  • mild to severe developmental delay
  • problematic family or social history (including abuse)
  • physical and/or intellectual disability.

In some ways, all children adopted from overseas have special needs as they often have language, cultural and other ethnic differences from your family and your local community.

Additionally, children may be old enough to remember spending time with their birth family and some may have lived with other relatives, a foster carer or in an orphanage.

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 require intercountry adoption.

While there is variation across countries, children who would benefit from being adopted by an Australian family are increasingly older, sibling groups or may have special needs. While younger children and infants do also require adoption, Australia’s partner countries increasingly have more applications than needed.

There are many reasons why a child may need an adoptive family. The child’s parent or parents may be deceased, however in other cases their birth relatives, including one or both of their birth parents, may be alive and be unable to care for the child for a variety of reasons.

If there are too few families within their birth country who have the capacity to parent them, these children could benefit from a loving and caring home in Australia.

Two of the most common questions relating to intercountry adoption are about time and costs.

More information