Adoption numbers continue to fall

The number of children adopted in Australia fell by almost 20 per cent during 1997-98, according to a report published today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Adoptions in Australia 1997-98 shows that there were 577 adoptions during 1997-98 - a decrease of 132 from the 709 adoptions in 1996-97. Of the children adopted, 73% (423) were by non-relatives and 27% (154) by relatives.

The number of adoptions has fallen substantially since its peak of almost 10,000 in 1971-72. Co-author of the report, Ms Helen Moyle, said the sharp decline in the number of adoptions for 1997-98 was mostly due to a 32% decrease in the number of Australian-born children adopted by non-relatives.

'During this period, 178 Australian-born children were adopted by non-relatives compared with 263 in the previous year, and 1,311 in 1981-82,' Ms Moyle said.

'The number of Australian-born children adopted by relatives between 1996-97 and 1997-98 also decreased by 13%, and adoptions of overseas-born children by non-relatives by 9%.'

Other findings of Adoptions in Australia 1997-98 include:

  • More than half of children adopted (58%) were Australian-born; 42% of adopted children were born overseas.
  • There were 154 Australian-born children adopted by relatives, step-parents adopted more than 97% of these.
  • Since 1981-82, adoptions of overseas-born children have increased by around 50% from 162 to 245 in 1997-98.
  • In 1997-98 about 28% of overseas-born children adopted by non-relatives were from Korea, 15% from Ethiopia, 11% from India, and 11% from Thailand.
  • Since 1990-91, 34% of the total number of overseas-born children adopted by non-relatives have been from Korea and 11% from India.
  • There were 4,324 applications for information about past adoptions (slightly higher than the number reported in 1996-97). Of these, 69% were made by the adopted person, 20% by the birth parents, 9% by other birth relatives and 2% by adoptive parents.
  • The number of contact and identifying information vetoes dropped from 259 in 1996-97 to 174 in 1997-98.

15 February 1999


Further information: Ms Susan Kelly, ph. 02 6244 1182 or 04 0701 2520 (mobile).
For media copies of the report: Lena Searle, ph. 02 6244 1032.
Availability: Check the AIHW for details.