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Overview Of The Adoption Process In Australia

There are a variety of regulations in place that concern adopting in Australia. These range from the qualifications of the adopting family to the paperwork involved to make the adoption legal. But regardless of the amount of effort it takes, the results are worthwhile.

Every state in Australia follows a different set of adoption laws so it is important to conduct the following research on which one is applicable to your case. Fortunately, there are state adoption agencies in Australia that can provide the necessary assistance to families interested in adopting a child. They can not only provide information on the process but also pass on relevant details on the eligibility criteria.

Although the adoption laws can be different depending on which state the applicant is in, there are some constants. One of the most important is that private adoptions cannot be made. Meaning, the state always has to be involved whether the child to be adopted is from Australia or another country. The purpose of this is to minimize the risk of human trafficking. In addition to this, all inter-country adoptions should comply with the criteria set by the Hague Convention.

Hague Convention -

“The Convention aims to protect children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad. It does so by establishing principles for countries to follow that focus on the need for intercountry adoptions to occur only where it is in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights. The Convention also focuses on the need for countries to work to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children. Although not all countries with which Australia has adoption agreements are signatories to the Convention, the Australian Government and the State and Territory authorities work to ensure that all of Australia's intercountry adoption programs meet the standards of the Convention.” More information can be found at

Request for Information

For overseas adoption applications, the first thing that needs to be done is to contact the Adoption and Permanent Care Services of your particular state. They will also give you a copy of the booklet Thinking about Adoption, which provides general information on the procedures and requirements. Included in this packet is an order form for the Adoption Information Package, which contains more detailed information on the process as well as an Expression of Interest, a document that is required if intent on pursuing an adoption.

Expression of Interest

Once the Adoption Information Package is received, the family should read the material carefully and choose the appropriate country or program needed. Submit the Expression of Interest form to the appropriate Department of Community Services. In the event that the program chosen is administered by a non-government organisation, the family should get in touch with them and express their interest in joining a program for adoption. It is likely that the entire family will be recommended to join parent support groups. Families can join as many groups as they wish.


The Department of Community Services will then acknowledge the receipt of the Expression of Interest Form. Upon using the document as a means of preliminary screening, those who show potential will then be invited to contact the Adoption and Permanent Care Services to schedule a Preparation for Adoption Seminar. For those interested in adopting a child that is over the age of two, an additional Older Child Seminar would have to be taken.

Formal Application

At the seminar, applicants will then be given an adoption application kit that contains several forms that need to be filled out. One of the most important is a formal adoption application with the Department of Community Services. Other requirements that should be submitted include clearances from the police, medical reports, as well as the necessary processing fees.


Within three months, the Department of Community Services should assign a contracted adoption assessor to the case. The assessment should take about four months for first time applicants. The assessor will carefully evaluate the applicant family to see if they are suited for the task of raising a child. Following the assessment, the Department of Community Services will review the application and prepare to make a final decision.

If the approval has been gained from the Department of Community Services, the applicants need to prepare an application to the country they want to adopt from, as set by the respective government. Applicants will then wait for the allocation of a child that is in need of a family. Following an allocation, applicants can travel to the sending country to pick up the child and finalize the adoption or custody arrangements.

Upon returning to Australia, the child will be checked on and the situation monitored by the Department of Community Services for several months. It is part of the task of the Department of Community Services to make post placement reports to the sending country to update them on the child’s situation.


It can take as long as a year after placement before the adoptive parents can make the arrangements permanent by applying for a court order, birth certificate, and citizenship certificate. These requirements are applicable to countries that Australia has a bilateral agreement with. It is also effective for countries that are a part of the Hague Convention on Inter country Adoption.




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