Adoption process

Your state or territory central authority (STCA) will manage your application and the entire adoption process. Some steps may vary depending on which state or territory you live in.

If you need help during the process, contact us.

Intercountry adoption process

Following is a step-by-step guide if you’re considering adopting a child from overseas.

1. Make an initial enquiry

We can answer your general questions about the adoption process and partner countries. If you decide you want to adopt a child from overseas, you need to contact your STCA to discuss applying through them.

2. Attend education seminars and make a formal application

Your STCA runs education sessions outlining the adoption process and eligibility criteria. They may ask you to fill out an expression of interest, or complete a questionnaire for pre-assessment of eligibility before you can attend.

3. Await adoption assessment and decision by your STCA

As well as the forms you need to complete, you may also need to undergo health, police and referee checks, and interviews with an adoption assessor (social worker or psychologist).

4. If approved, your application is sent to your country of choice

Once approved by your STCA, your STCA will send your application to the overseas country for approval by their central authority. If there are quotas on applications, your application may not be sent straight away.

If you’re approved, your application will join the overseas country’s waiting list until a placement is made. You can find out more about waiting times and costs.

5. Placement proposal issued by the overseas authority

The overseas country will send your STCA a placement proposal (matching you with a child). This proposal will include social and medical information about the child.

Your STCA will then contact you about accepting this proposal. The amount of information about a child varies across countries and depends on the child’s circumstances.

For some special needs programs a partner country may ask the STCA to assess a list of children and match them with one or more Australian families who have been approved to adopt a child with those needs. If the overseas country agrees with this match, they may ask for further information from the relevant STCA.

6. Begin immigration application process in Australia

The ability of an adopted child to enter Australia depends on immigration requirements being met. The process varies depending on the country. You usually need to begin the immigration application process before you bring your child home.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs assess and decide applications for visas and citizenship. They will be able to tell you about the specific visa and citizenship requirements that apply to your child’s circumstances.

7. Travel to meet your child

When you’ve accepted placement and organised visas, you need to travel to your child’s birth country to complete the overseas adoption.

Some countries have specific dates you need to travel and choose where you stay. The timing of travel depends on your child’s country of birth. Sometimes this step can take a few months.

When planning your trip we recommend you visit Smartraveller to make informed travel decisions. The website highlights a range of risks you could face at your destination related to:

  • security and safety
  • health
  • local laws
  • entry/exit requirements
  • natural disasters

8. Bring your child to Australia

Once you’re back in Australia with your child you will need to adhere to the reporting requirements of your child’s birth country. Your STCA may also visit your family to prepare reports and make sure everything is going well.

Your child may also need a health screening during the first few weeks in Australia and a full medical check is recommended as soon as possible after your return.

The key contacts and support section has a list of government and non-government agencies that can provide post-adoption support to you and your family

9. The legal process

When your adoption is finalised you are legally the parent/s of your child. How your adoption is finalised depends on the birth country of your child and the processes followed by your STCA.

For some adoptions, the country of birth makes the final decision or adoption order. In this case, the adoption order may be recognised under Australian law.

For other intercountry adoptions, the adoption is not finalised in the country of birth. Instead, the adoption needs to be finalised in an Australian court after your child arrives in Australia.

You will also need to complete all post-adoption reporting requirements for both the birth country and your STCA.

More information