Below is a glossary of terms you may read on this website or in other intercountry adoption publications:

Adoptee: a person who has been adopted.

Adoption: the legal process by which a person legally becomes a child of the adoptive parent(s) and legally ceases to be a child of his/her existing parent(s).

Adoption compliance certificate: a document issued by your child’s birth country that confirms the adoption is made either under the Hague Convention or the country’s laws. In the case of a Hague adoption, it also means the relevant authorities have agreed to the adoption.

Adoptive family: a family with at least one adoptive parent and one adoptee.

Adoption order: an order, made by a central authority under adoption legislation, confirming that the adoptive parent(s) become the legal parent(s) of the child.

Adult adoptee: a person who came into Australia as a child through intercountry adoption, or another type of overseas adoption, who is now over 18 years old.

Accredited body: a term from the Hague Convention that refers to an organisation accredited by a central authority to undertake some of the central authority’s intercountry adoption functions.

Applicant: a married, same sex or de facto couple, or a single person applying to adopt a child from a partner country.

Central authority: a designated body with specific obligations under the Hague Convention. The Australian central authority is the Australian Government Department of Social Services. As Australia is a federation, each state and territory have their own central authority.

Country of origin: the usual country of residence of the child being adopted. This is generally also the child’s country of birth.

Domestic/local adoptions: the adoption of children who were born or lived in Australia before they were adopted. They are legally able to be adopted and usually haven’t had any contact or relationship with the adoptive parent(s).

Domestic/local known child adoption: the adoption of children who were born or lived in Australia before they were adopted. They have an existing relationship with their adoptive parent(s) and usually can’t be adopted by anyone, other than the adoptive parent(s). Known child adoptions include adoptions by step-parents, other relatives and carers.

Expatriate adoptions: adoptions by an Australian citizen or permanent resident living overseas for 12 months or more, through an overseas adoption agency or government authority. Australian central authorities are not responsible for expatriate adoptions and don’t assess or approve applicants for these adoptions.

Foster care: where a child is placed with a caregiver(s) approved by the state and territory child foster care system.

Hague Convention (intercountry adoption): the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption establishes standards and procedures for adoptions between countries.

The Hague Convention includes legally binding safeguards, a system of supervision, and establishes channels of communication between countries.

It came into force in Australia in December 1998.

Hague permanent bureau: is the secretariat of the Hague Conference and carries out the research needed for any subject that the Conference takes up. It develops and maintains contact with the national authority, experts and delegates of member countries and central authorities, as well as with international organisations. It also responds to requests for information from users of the Convention (lawyers, notaries, officials, companies, journalists and private persons). You can find out more at Hague permanent bureau.

Intercountry adoption: an adoption of a child from an overseas country with which Australia has an official adoption program. The child must be determined as legally able to be placed for adoption, and has generally had no previous contact with the adoptive parent(s).

Known non-relative adoption: the adoption of a child known to the adoptive parent(s).

Out-of-home care: where a child aged under 17 is cared for outside of the home, usually in the foster care system.

Post-adoption support: support available to adoptive families after the post-placement supervision has ended.

Post-placement supervision: these are the requirements dictated by the child’s country of birth. Your state and territory central authority will let you know what the requirements are and help you meet them.

Relative adoption: this is the adoption of a child by a relative, such as an aunt or uncle.

Relative/kinship care: where a child is cared for by a relative (other than parents), someone considered to be family or a close friend, or is a member of the child’s community (cultural).

Respite care: this is a form of out-of-home care that provides short-term accommodation for children before they return to their usual home.

Special needs: a child with special needs may have physical, intellectual or cognitive disabilities or potential barriers to permanent placement or adoption, such as behavioural disorders, medical conditions, is part of a sibling group, or is an older child.

State and territory central authority: each Australian state and territory has a central authority to ensure that Australia meets its obligations under the Hague Convention.

Subsidiarity principle: is recognition that a child should be raised by his or her birth family or extended family whenever possible. If that is not possible, other forms of permanent family care in the country of origin should be considered. Only after due consideration has been given to domestic solutions should intercountry adoption be considered, and then only if it’s in the child’s best interests.

Further information on the subsidiarity principle and other guiding principles of the Hague Convention can be found in the Implementation and Operation of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention: Guide to Good Practice.