Adoption is one of the options used to provide permanent care for children who are unable to live with their families. The adoption process establishes a permanent, legal parent–child relationship between a child and their adoptive parent(s).
The form of adoption practiced in Australia is referred to as ‘plenary open adoption’. Under these adoption practices the legal relationship between the child and their parent(s) is ended in order to create a new legal relationship with the adoptive family. For the adoptive parent(s), the legal rights of the adopted child become the same as they would be if the child had been born to the adoptive parent(s).
Adoption in Australia aims to provide a nurturing, safe, and permanent family for children and young people. Adoption is seen as a service for the child or young person, and decisions about an adoption are to be made with their best interests – both in childhood and later life – as the primary consideration.
The categories of adoption used in national reporting are:
Each state and territory government in Australia has its own legislation, policies and practices regarding adoption. State and territory governments undertake responsibilities including the processing of adoption applications and approving prospective adoptive parents. The Department of Social Services, as the Commonwealth Central Authority under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, is responsible for establishing and managing Australia’s intercountry adoption arrangements.
Information on adopting a child may be obtained from state and territory departments responsible for adoption, Intercountry Adoption Australia and the Department of Social Services websites. Visa and citizenship information, for parents adopting a child from outside Australia, is available from the Department of Home Affairs website.
03 Dec 2021
Web report |
03 Dec 2021
Adoption numbers in Australia declined by 63% over the past 25 years – from 709 in 1996–97 to 264 in 2020–21
The majority of local adoptees (95%) and intercountry adoptees (71%) were aged under 5
From 1996–97 to 2020–21, 124 Indigenous children were adopted: nearly 3 in 5 through known child adoptions
The 264 adoptions finalised in 2020–21 are the lowest number on record
In 2020–21, the median length of time to process an intercountry adoption was 3 years and 4 months
More reports and statistics on adoption can be found under Child protection and Children & youth.
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