Adoptions continue at a low level

The number of children adopted in Australia during 1996-97 increased despite an overall decline in the number of adoptions since the late 1960s.

Adoptions Australia 1996-97 shows that there were 709 adoptions in 1996-97 - an increase of 41 children in 1995-96. Most children adopted (62%) were Australian-born and of these, 75% were adopted by non-relatives.

Co-author of the report, Ms Carolyn Dunn, said the number of adoptions had fallen substantially since its peak of almost 10,000 in 1971-72.

She said changing attitudes to single parenthood, and changes to legislation relating to adoption by relatives - particularly step parents - were just some of the reasons for the sharp decline in adoption numbers.

"Wider availability of birth control and greater options - such as IVF for infertile couples - have also affected adoption rates." Ms Dunn said.

Other findings include:

  • There were 177 adoptions of Australian-born children by relatives, more than 90% of which were adoptions by step-parents.
  • Most (77%)Australian-born children adopted by relatives were aged between 5-14 years of age.
  • Of those Australian-born children adopted by non-relatives, 60% were aged under 1 year.
  • During 1996-97, non-relatives adopted 269 overseas-born children.
  • About 31% of overseas-born children adopted by non-relatives were from Korea, 13% from India and 13% from Thailand.
  • Since 1990-91, 35% of the total number of overseas-born children adopted by non-relatives have been from Korea.
  • There were 4,176 applications for information about past adoptions (similar to the number reported in 1995-96). Of these, 63% were made by the adopted person, 28% by the birth parents, 7% by other birth relatives and 2% by adoptive parents.
  • The number of contact and identifying information vetoes has dropped from 426 in 1995-96 to 259 in 1996-97. The number of vetoes lodged has been falling since 1994-95.

12 June 1998


Further information: Carolyn Dunn, ph. 02 6244 1182.
For media copies of the report: Michelle Wells, ph. 02 6244 1012.