For both intercountry and domestic adoptions, Australia practices open adoptions. This means that adopted children grow up knowing that they were adopted, and if possible have knowledge of their birth family and cultural heritage.
How do I start the adoption process?
Each state and territory has its own legislation governing domestic/local adoption. You will need to contact your local state and territory central authority to discuss eligibility criteria and the adoption process.
How do I adopt a child I already know?
This is called a ‘known child adoption’. The majority of these types of adoptions are by step-parents or by long-term carers, such as foster carers.
These types of adoptions aim to give the child stability by creating a clear legal relationship with their adoptive parents and family.
Adoptions by relatives other than step-parents are usually discouraged as they can confuse biological relationships. For example, if a grandparent adopts a grandchild the birth parent legally becomes their sibling. These adoptions are rare and permanent care and guardianship/custody orders are used instead.
Permanent care and guardianship/custody orders are used for a child who, for whatever reason, can’t be adopted. A permanent care order gives responsibility for a child’s care to someone other than the birth parent/s. This person becomes the child’s guardian and is then responsible for the child’s care and upbringing until they turn 18 years old.
While the legal relationship between the child and the birth parent doesn’t change, the decision-making process for most aspects of parenting is now the responsibility of the guardian.