1990 to 1999: The Hague Convention

Throughout the 1990s, legislative reform continued throughout Australia, shifting domestic adoption practices away from the ‘clean break’ theory (Higgins 2012). During this time, domestic adoptions continued to decline, falling 65% from 749 in 1990–91 to 265 in 1999–00.

In 1993, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Intercountry Adoption (‘Hague Convention’) was introduced. This likely contributed to the 44% decrease in overseas adoptions from 393 in 1990–91 to 222 in 1993–94. The Hague Convention was created to protect children and their families against 'the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad' (Hague Conference on Private International Law 2022). In Australia, the Hague Convention entered into force on 1 December 1998. From 1993–94 to 1998–99, the number and proportion of children adopted from overseas fluctuated before surpassing domestic adoptions for the first time in 1999–00.


HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law) (2022) Adoption section, HCCH website, accessed 7 December 2022.

Higgins DJ (2012) Past and present adoptions in Australia: Facts sheet, AIFS, accessed 6 December 2022.