Realities and risks

Should you apply to adopt a child from overseas, you need to be conscious that—while there are many positive aspects of intercountry adoption—there are also some risks associated with the process.

Employing appropriate safeguards to protect children is a joint responsibility of both Australia and the countries with which we have adoption arrangements. Australia takes this responsibility very seriously. However, because officials in the country of birth determine whether a child is eligible for adoption, they are always best placed to ensure that safeguards are maintained. So, while Australia can seek to minimise the risks, these cannot be entirely eliminated.

It’s important to understand the involvement of the Australian Government and Intercountry Adoption Australia:

  • the Australian Government does not have any role in, or control over, day-to-day adoption processes (this is the work of central authorities in your state or territory)
  • the Australian Government cannot approve applications for adoption (this is the work of central authorities in your state or territory) and cannot facilitate the appeal of an overseas adoption decision
  • the Australian Government cannot give consent for a child to be adopted (this is overseen by the child’s country of birth).

Remember that the child’s country of birth is responsible for ensuring that the child is legitimately available for adoption and for verifying the accuracy of information provided about the child.

Some overseas countries have limited capacity and resources for the administration of adoptions. In some instances, the fees and donations required in the country of birth can create an incentive for unscrupulous behaviour by people in that country.

Along with the many positive experiences you can expect to enjoy, you should also be aware that the adoption process may cause considerable emotional stress for you, your spouse or partner, and your family here in Australia. Even after the adoption has been finalised, emotional challenges may arise or continue for your family and for your adopted child.

Risks of trafficking and irregularities

Australian central authorities are committed to ensuring the integrity of our intercountry adoption system, and to preventing the trafficking of children. Authorities monitor each of Australia’s intercountry adoption arrangements to check the principles of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption continue to be met. Australia is also working with like minded countries to encourage greater dialogue on issues related to child trafficking and child protection.

Despite these efforts, many years after the adoption, it could be revealed that your adopted child was trafficked, or that there were irregularities associated with the adoption process in the child’s country of birth .