National estimate of intercountry adoptees
National data for intercountry adoption is available back to 1979–80. These data can be used to estimate the number of intercountry adoptees placed with adoptive families in Australia since 1979–80, including those who would now be adults.
As adoptees mature in adulthood, there is a need for systematic and on-going post-adoption support. Providing a national estimate of adult intercountry adoptees in Australia aims to assist efforts, such as the Intercountry Adoption Family Support Service, to support the needs of adoptees as children, teenagers and adults.
In Australia, from 1979–80 to 2020–21, there were approximately 9,149 children adopted through intercountry adoption. It is estimated that 6,269 (69%) of these adoptees would have been aged 18 and over by 30 June 2021. An additional 1,179 adoptees were approaching adulthood – aged 15–17 at 30 June 2021. Of those adoptees aged 18 and over, nearly half (49%) were aged 30 and over – including 995 adoptees of unknown age who would have been a minimum of 30 years of age.
Impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Measures put in place as part of government responses to COVID-19 during 2020 and 2021 (including closing of international borders, travel bans/restrictions, lockdowns, quarantine requirements, limitations on non-urgent face-to-face work, and resource reallocations) may have affected domestic and intercountry adoption processes during 2019–20 and 2020–21.
The long-term impact of COVID-19 on adoption processes is still unknown. Such effects may become apparent in adoptions data in future years.
Where do I go for more information?
See Adoptions Australia 2020–21, including relevant data tables and appendices.
Information on adopting a child can be found in state and territory departments responsible for adoption, Intercountry Adoption Australia and the Department of Social Services.
See also Adoptions for more information on this topic.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2021. Adoptions Australia 2020–21. Child welfare series no. 76. Cat. no. CWS 85. Canberra: AIHW.