About

Adoption is a legal process where rights and responsibilities are transferred from a child’s parent/s to their adoptive parent/s. The adopted child assumes the same legal rights, privileges and social status as if born to the adoptive parent/s, including the right of inheritance.

The categories of adoption used in national reporting are:

  • Intercountry adoptions—adoptions of children from countries other than Australia who are legally able to be placed for adoption, but who generally have had no previous contact or relationship with the adoptive parent/s. Expatriate adoptions are not included in the numbers for intercountry adoptions.
  • Local adoptions—adoptions of children who were born or permanently living in Australia before the adoption, who are legally able to be placed for adoption, but who generally have had no previous contact or relationship with the adoptive parent/s.
  • ‘Known’ child adoptions—adoptions of children who were born or permanently living in Australia before the adoption, who have a pre-existing relationship with the adoptive parent/s, and who are generally not able to be adopted by anyone other than the adoptive parent/s. Known child adoptions include adoptions by step-parents, other relatives and carers.

Each state and territory government in Australia has its own legislation, policies and practices regarding adoption. They are responsible for processing adoption applications and approving prospective adoptive parents. The Australian Government oversees adoption processes and works closely with state and territory governments to ensure that Australia’s  intercountry adoption arrangements are ethical and appropriate.

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 Immigration and Border Protection website.