Most children adopted into Australian families now come from overseas, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
'Adoptions from overseas have more than doubled over the last 25 years, and accounted for 71% of all adoptions in 2006-07, a substantial increase from 6% in 1981-82,' said Nicole Hunter of the AIHW's Children Youth and Families Unit.
The majority of children adopted from overseas come from Asian countries - primarily from China (31% in 2006-07), South Korea (20%) and the Philippines (11%).
There has also been a recent increase in number of children adopted from African nations, particularly Ethiopia.
According to the report, Adoptions Australia 2006-07, the total number of adoptions in Australia has remained relatively constant in recent years-ranging between 450 and 600 children per year.
The increase in intercountry adoptions corresponds with a fall in the number of Australian children seeking adoption.
'A range of factors have contributed to this fall in adoptions of Australian children , including more effective birth control, family planning centres, and sex education classes, as well as changing views on parenthood and child rearing,' Ms Hunter said.
In 2006-07 there were 568 adoptions in Australia-405 were intercountry adoptions, 59 were local and 104 were 'known' child adoptions. Of the 'known' child adoptions, 79 were by step-parents and 22 by carers.
For both local and intercountry adoptions, 92% of adopted children were younger than 5 years old, while 71% of the children adopted by carers, step-parents or other relatives were aged 10 or over.
More girls than boys were adopted (58% compared to 42%).
Around half of the children in local and intercountry adoptions were adopted into families with no other children, and three in every five had adoptive parents aged 40 years and over.
One-quarter of the children in local adoptions had birth mothers who were less than 20 years of age, but in general, birth mothers tended to be older than in previous years, with an average age of 26.5 years.