• Print

In 2009–10, Australia recorded the lowest number of adoptions since the early 1970s, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Adoptions Australia 2009–10, found that there were 412 adoptions in Australia during this period; a 7% decline on the previous year. Since the early 1970s, there has been a 21-fold decrease in the number of adoptions in Australia.

‘The long-term decrease in adoptions can be attributed to significantly fewer Australian children being available for adoption,’ said Tim Beard, of the Institute’s Child and Youth Welfare Unit.

‘However, the decrease over the past 12 months can mostly be attributed to the reduced number of adoptions from China and South Korea.

‘Since 1999–2000, intercountry adoption has been the dominant category of adoptions. In 2009–10, intercountry adoptions represented 54% of all adoptions, compared with 10% of adoptions in 1984–85.’

Over four in five intercountry adoptees (82%) came from the Asian region. The Philippines (22%) has now overtaken both China (14%) and South Korea (14%) as the most common country of origin. Outside Asia, Ethiopia was the most common country of origin, accounting for 15% of intercountry adoptions.

In 2009–10, 15% of adoptions were local (Australian children) and a further 31% were ‘known’ child adoptions (adoptions of Australian children who have a pre-existing relationship with the adoptive parent(s), such as step-parents, other relatives, or carers).

Overall, 65% of adopted children were aged under 5 years. For local and intercountry adoptions nearly all children were aged under 5 (100% and 86% respectively).

‘This changed when the child already knew the adoptive parent, with two-thirds of children in ‘known’ child adoptions aged 10 years and over,’ Mr Beard said. ‘Of these adoptions, 57% were by step-parents, and a further 41% by carers.’

Over half (57%) of adoptive parents of children in local and intercountry adoptions were aged 40 years and over, and a similar proportion (58%) had no other children.

‘The vast majority (92%) of local adoptions could be considered ‘open’, where all parties are happy to allow contact between the adoptive and birth families,’ Mr Beard said.

‘In the remaining 8%, the birth parents had requested no contact or information between them and the adoptive family.’

Less than five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were adopted in 2009–10, with a total of 63 Indigenous children being adopted over the last 15 years—the majority of whom were adopted by Indigenous Australians.

Canberra, Wednesday 15 December 2010

Further information: Mr Tim Beard, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1270, mob. 0418 271 395
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Adoptions Australia 2009–10

Report summary    Full report