Summary

Adoption numbers continued to decline

In 2015–16, 278 adoptions were recorded as finalised. This is the lowest annual number of adoptions on record, and is a fall of 5% from the 292 adoptions in 2014–15, and of 74% from the 1,052 adoptions 25 years earlier, in 1991-92. The decline over the past decade has been driven primarily by intercountry adoptions, which fell to 82 in 2015-16 from 406 in 2006-07.

Over half of all adoptions were known child adoptions

While adoption numbers overall have declined, 'known child' adoptions—where the child is already known to the adoptive parent(s)—have increased over the past decade, from 104 in 2006–07 to 151 in 2015–16. These adoptions comprised over half (54%) of all finalised adoptions in 2015–16. Slightly more of these children were adopted by a step-parent (50%) than a carer such as foster carer (46%).

Local and intercountry adoptees were younger than known child adoptees

Adoption of Australian children not known to their adoptive parents are called 'local' adoptions. In 2015–16, 45 local and 82 intercountry adoptions were finalised, representing 16% and 29% of all adoptions, respectively. All local adoptees, and 71% of intercountry adoptees, were aged under 5. The majority of known child adoptees (91%) were aged over 5.

Intercountry processing times have fallen from last year

The median length of time to complete an intercountry adoption had been increasing since 2007–08 (when data were first reported). It peaked at 5 years and 4 months in 2014–15 and then fell to 3 years and 5 months in 2015–16.

The median length of time varied considerably across countries, ranging from more than 2.5 years for South Korea to almost 7 years for Thailand.

Intercountry adoptions—90% were from Asian countries

The main country of origin for intercountry adoptions has changed over time. Between 2006–07 and 2010–11, the main country of origin was either China or the Philippines; since then it has varied between Taiwan and the Philippines. In 2015-16, the most common countries of origin were the Philippines, providing 24% of intercountry adoptions, followed by Thailand (22%), Taiwan (20%) and South Korea (17%).

Few Indigenous children are adopted each year

In 2015–16, only 3 Indigenous children had adoption orders finalised in Australia, with 130 Indigenous children adopted since 1991–92.