Here are some of the questions we’re frequently asked at Intercountry Adoption Australia, and our list of responses is growing all the time.
If you can’t find the answer to your question in this section, please contact us for a personal response.
- What is intercountry adoption and how does it work?
Intercountry adoption is a formal process that occurs when an Australian citizen or permanent resident, who is residing in Australia, adopts a child from overseas through the authorities in his or her Australian state or territory. The principles and standards of the Hague Convention must also be met, regardless of whether or not the partner country has signed the Convention.
The adoption process will vary slightly depending on the state or territory you live in. We have, however, summarised the key steps in Countries and considerations. The central authority in your state or territory will provide some education on the process and challenges of intercountry adoption, give you information on how to apply, and assess your application. You must first be approved for adoption by your state or territory government, before your application can be sent to your chosen overseas country for their approval.
If the overseas country accepts your application and is able to match a child with your family, you will be sent a placement proposal, which you will need to consider very carefully before accepting. You will need to travel to the overseas country to meet and collect your new child, and go through formal arrangements there.
When you return to Australia, you will be provided with post-placement support to ensure your adopted child is settling in well. You will also generally be required to provide some post-placement reports to your child’s country of birth.
To discuss the specifics of intercountry adoption where you live, contact the central authority in your state or territory.
- Does Intercountry Adoption Australia handle my application to adopt?
Intercountry Adoption Australia is a national information and referral service funded by the Australian Government. Your adoption process will be managed by your State or Territory central authority. These agencies will also provide the education and support you will need throughout the process, including post-adoption support. Intercountry Adoption Australia can provide some support, and can also connect you to your State or Territory central authority and some Australian support services. You can get more detail by visiting State contacts and support.
It is important that you understand three things about the involvement of the Australian Government and Intercountry Adoption Australia in the intercountry adoption process:
- The Australian Government does not have any role in, or control over, day-to-day intercountry adoption administration (this is the work of your State or Territory central authority).
- The Australian Government does not approve applications for adoption (this is the work of authorities in your State or Territory and the authorities in the child’s country of birth) and there is no appeal process through the Australian Government should an application not be approved.
- The Australian Government cannot give consent for a child to be adopted (this is overseen by the child’s country of birth).
- Can anyone adopt a child from overseas?
If you want to adopt a child from overseas, you must first meet the eligibility and suitability requirements set by the government of the State or Territory you live in. Each overseas country also has particular eligibility and suitability criteria that you must also meet. These criteria can vary between countries and over time.
You should contact the central authority in your State or Territory to discuss eligibility requirements. You can get more information about the eligibility criteria of Australia’s partner countries by visting Partner countries and selecting any of the country names.
- Can I apply to adopt a child if I'm single?
Many of Australia’s partner countries do not accept adoption applications from single applicants. Countries that do accept single applications often have a policy of prioritising applications from couples. You can get more information about the eligibility criteria of Australia’s partner countries by visiting Partner countries and selecting any of the country names.
- Which countries can I apply to adopt a child from?
If you or your partner are an Australian citizen, and you are currently living in Australia, you may apply to adopt from a country with which Australia has an active intercountry adoption arrangement. The countries you can adopt from may depend on the State or Territory you live in. Currently, the Australian Government has active arrangements with a number of countries.
- How much does it cost to adopt a child from overseas?
Intercountry adoption fees vary between States and Territories, as well as between the overseas countries involved. You can get a more detailed answer to this question by visiting Partner countries. For more detailed information on adoption fees in the State or Territory where you live, look at our Time and Costs page. You can get an idea of the fees a country may charge by visiting Partner countries and selecting any of the country names.
- How long does the adoption process take?
The amount of time an adoption process takes varies. It is usually a lengthy process, and waiting times of several years are not uncommon. You can find out more by visiting Countries and considerations or Waiting times.
- What other options are there for adopting or caring for a child?
You have a number of options you can consider if you would like to care for a child from Australia. You can learn more about these options by visiting Alternatives to intercountry adoption.
- What are my challenges when adopting from overseas?
In addition to the many positive aspects of adopting a child from overseas, there are challenges associated with the process. These include that:
- there is no guarantee that at the end of the application process, you will be able to adopt a child
- overseas countries may change their intercountry adoption policies, how they operate and/or their eligibility criteria (intercountry arrangements can also be put on hold or closed)
- you may not always get complete or accurate information about the child’s background from the authorities in their country of birth
- the time it takes for an overseas country to process your application is unpredictable and delays can occur that are outside of Australia’s control
- parenting a child from another country can be extremely challenging.
- Who are the children in need of adoption?
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 are requiring intercountry adoption on a global scale.
While there is variation across countries, children in need of being adopted by an Australian family are increasingly older and may have special needs. Some younger children and infants do require intercountry adoption, but Australia’s partner countries increasingly have more applications than needed from people willing to parent them.
You can get more detail on this topic on our Things to consider page.
- What is the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption?
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (widely referred to across this website as simply ‘the Hague Convention’) aims to protect children and their families from illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad.
A guiding principle of the Hague Convention is that, whenever possible, a child should be raised by his or her birth family or extended family. If this is not possible, other forms of permanent family care in the child’s country of birth should be considered. Only after local solutions have been exhausted, should intercountry adoption be considered — and then only if it is in the child’s best interests and with respect to his or her fundamental rights.
Australia only facilitates overseas adoptions if the principles and standards of the Hague Convention can be met, regardless of whether or not the partner country has signed the Convention.
Currently, 11 of the 13 countries with which Australia has intercountry adoption arrangements are party to the Hague Convention. The exceptions are Taiwan and South Korea.
You can get more detail on this topic by visiting Compliance with the Hague Convention.
- How many children from overseas are adopted by Australians each year?
The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare produces a report on finalised adoptions in Australia each year. Their reports can be downloaded from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare website.
- What support is available for adoptive families?
Education and support is available to people at all stages of the intercountry adoption process. The central authority in your State or Territory is the main provider of support and advice. A range of private organisations also support people considering adoption, or people who have already adopted The central authority in your state or territory is best placed to make a local recommendation, however you can visit State contacts and support for information on other available resources including Australian Government support.
- Who do I contact for more information on intercountry adoption?
If you’d like to speak to someone about how the intercountry adoption process applies to you, please contact us.
- How do I contact Intercountry Adoption Australia from overseas?
The Intercountry Adoption Australia information line cannot be dialled from an international number except via Skype or if you have an Australian mobile. People who wish to make contact with Intercountry Adoption Australia whilst they are overseas should contact us using our contact form.
- I am a dual citizen and/or I have rights to live in another country: Can I arrange an adoption in that country?
The Australian Government strongly warns people who live in Australia against trying to arrange domestic or private adoptions through an overseas country, even if they hold citizenship or rights to permanent residency in that particular country. You should contact the central authority in your State or Territory before going ahead with any application to an overseas authority.
People seeking to adopt from an overseas country must apply to the central authority in the country in which they are ‘habitually resident’. This essentially means that, if you (or both of you) are living in Australia on a regular basis (as a citizen or a permanent resident), you (or both of you) must comply with the Australian process for intercountry adoption. This applies even if you (or both of you) hold citizenship of, or rights to permanent residency in, another country.
- How do I apply for a birth certificate for my child?
Each state and territory has its own process to apply for a birth certificate for a child adopted through intercountry adoption. In most cases families need to contact their local Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages first to register their child’s birth, then they may apply for a birth certificate. You may need to contact your local adoption authority to make this application.
To find out more information, please contact the central authority in your state or territory.