Adoption numbers increased

In 2017–18, 330 adoptions were recorded as finalised. This was an increase of 5% from 2016–17 when there were 315 adoptions. However, this rise in finalised adoptions occurred against a backdrop of a 57% decline in Australia in the 25-year period from 1993–94 to 2017–18.

Known child adoptions made up almost three-quarters of all adoptions

While other types of adoption 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 2008–09 to 233 in 2017–18. These adoptions comprised 71% of all finalised adoptions in 2017–18, with adoptions by carers, such as foster parents, the most common (63%). The increase in known child adoptions can be attributed to a policy change in New South Wales that resulted in a higher number of adoptions from care.

Local and intercountry adoptees were younger than known child adoptees

Adoption of Australian children not known to their adoptive parents is called ‘local’ adoption. In 2017–18, 32 local adoptions were finalised, representing 10% of all adoptions. A further 65 adoptions of children from countries other than Australia, referred to as ‘intercountry’ adoptions, were also finalised. All local adoptees, and 65% of intercountry adoptees, were aged under 5. By comparison, only 1 in 6 known child adoptees (16%) were aged under 5.

Intercountry processing times remained under 3 years

For intercountry adoption, the median length of time from when an adoptive parent became an official client of an Australian state or territory department responsible for adoption to when a child was placed for adoption had been increasing since 2007–08 (when data were first reported). It peaked at 5 years and 4 months in 2014–15, but then fell to less than 3 years in 2016–17. The median time in 2017–18 was 2 years and 11 months.

The median length of time from when applicants became official clients of the department to when a child was placed with them varied considerably across countries. For example, it was 2 years for South Korea but 3 years and 7 months for Taiwan.

Intercountry adoptions were nearly all from Asian countries

In 2017–18, 97% of finalised intercountry adoptions were for adoptees from Asian countries. The most common countries of origin were Taiwan, comprising 32% of intercountry adoptions, followed by South Korea (29%). Equal proportions of intercountry adoptions came from Thailand and the Philippines (14% each).

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.

Adoption of Indigenous children increased

In 2017–18, 9 Indigenous children had adoption orders finalised in Australia, more than twice the number adopted in 2016–17. Over the 25-year period from 1993–94 to 2017–18, 127 Indigenous children were adopted.