Summary

Adoption numbers continued to decline

In 2014-15, 292 adoptions were recorded as finalised. This is the lowest annual number of adoptions on record, and is a fall of 8% from the 317 adoptions in 2013-14, and of 74% from the 1,142 adoptions 25 years earlier, in 1990-91. The decline over the past decade has been driven primarily by intercountry adoptions, which fell to 83 in 2014-15 from 421 in 2005-06.

Almost one-third of all adoptions were carer adoptions

While adoption numbers overall have declined over time, 'known child' adoptions by carers are increasing. In 2014-15, carers, such as foster parents, adopted 94 children, the highest number at any point in the previous decade-more than 4 times the 21 adoptions in 2005-06. Carer adoptions comprised almost one-third (32%) of all finalised adoptions in 2014-15.

Local adoptees were younger than intercountry adoptees

Adoption of Australian children not known to their adoptive parents are called 'local' adoptions. In 2014-15, 56 local and 83 intercountry adoptions were finalised, representing 19% and 28% of all adoptions, respectively. Almost all local adoptees were aged under 5 (98%), with 41% aged under 1, compared with only 10% of intercountry adoptees being aged under 1. The decline in intercountry adoption is most pronounced among children in this age group.

Intercountry processing times increased to more than 5 years

The median length of time to complete an intercountry adoption had been increasing each year between 2007-08 (when data were first reported) and 2013-14, when it remained stable at 5 years. In 2014-15, it increased to 5 years and 4 months.

The median length of time varied considerably across countries, ranging from nearly 3.5 years for Taiwan to almost 8 years for China.

Taiwan remains the main country of origin for intercountry adoptions

The main country of origin for intercountry adoptions has changed over time. Between 2005-06 and 2008-09, the main country of origin was China; between 2009-10 and 2011-12 it varied between China, the Philippines and Taiwan; and, since 2012-13, it has been Taiwan. In 2014-15, 36% of intercountry adoptions were from Taiwan.

A new intercountry adoption service established

On 17 May 2015, the Australian Government established a new service-Intercountry Adoption Australia-to guide people wanting to adopt children from overseas. State and territory central authorities remain responsible for adoption legislation and managing adoption applications, including assessing the eligibility and suitability of those seeking to adopt children from overseas and processing their applications. The Australian Attorney-General's Department remains responsible for ensuring that Australia meets its obligations under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption.