(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Child in Australia

If you are considering adopting a child, chances are that many questions have crossed your mind. While you can research these curiosities online, all the logistical information in the world can’t quite prepare you for the emotions that come with starting a family, expanding your family, or supplementing your family.

So, to help you have a one-stop destination for so much information accessible online, we’ve created a guide to the basics of adoption in Australia (as of August 2022).

What is adoption?

Adoption refers to the transfer of legal parental rights and responsibilities from the biological parents of the child (or anyone with parental responsibility for the child) to the adoptive parents.

There are 2 main types of adoption available in Australia:

International adoption

International adoption, when a child is adopted from a foreign country and brought back to Australia to live there.

The Australian Attorney General’s Department has primary responsibility for managing international adoptions with the country from which the child is adopted. They also work with the various relevant state and territorial departments.

Local adoption

Local adoption, where the adopted child was born or lives permanently in Australia

Which countries can I adopt from?

Australia currently has international adoption agreements with 13 countries. These are called partner countries.

Australian governments do not support or facilitate international adoptions outside of our partner countries listed below.

Where to start ?

According to pregnancybirthbaby.org.au, each Australian state and territory has its own adoption requirements. States and territories specify different minimum ages for a person to become an adoptive parent. In New South Wales the minimum age is 21 and in Western Australia 18. There are also different requirements for the age of an adoptive parent for their child.

For more information on the legal requirements in your state or territory, you should contact the appropriate government agency:

Is it difficult to adopt a child in Australia?

Adoption in Australia is a long and difficult process. Adopting a child takes years from the time a family decides to adopt to the time the adoption is finalized.

What is the approach to adopt?

According to Adoptchange.org.au, the first step for expectant parents is to research what type of adoption or permanent fostering is possible in your state or territory, and decide what is right for your family: domestic adoption. (local and outside the house). care), international adoption, or the permanent care or guardianship of a child.

“Adoption and child protection legislation in Australia is developed at the state government level, and each jurisdiction has its own department and often a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who are responsible for to provide out-of-home care (OOHC) and adoption service Each jurisdiction, department and NGO has its own process, including establishing criteria for prospective adoptive parents and completing the training and assessment process. While each state’s processes and criteria are similar, they are not the same.”

The basic steps for all types of adoption and permanent care are:

• Contact the relevant State Department or accredited agency

• Attend an information session

• Undertake assessment and training

• Awaiting correspondence

• Location

• Post-adoption/placement support

What are the requirements for adopting a child in Australia?

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria set out by the Australian state or territory where the application is made. This can cover things like:

• If you are an Australian citizen

• Your age

• How much older are you than the child you want to adopt?

• If you live in the state where you want to adopt

• If you are pregnant

You may also need to meet other requirements, such as:

• Criminal, violence, traffic and child protection background checks

• Checks on your health

• Interviews with you, your family and other adult household members

• Each state and territory has different eligibility criteria for adoption, so check with the relevant government agency listed above.

How long does the adoption take?

There is currently no information available on how long it takes for local adoptions to be processed.

In 2018-2019, the median time for an international adoption, from when an adoptive parent was approved by an Australian state or territory to when the child was placed, was 2 years and 1 month. However, obtaining an approval in Australia can also be a long and complicated process. Every state and territory is different.

A mother and her daughter embrace.

Can I get financial help if I adopt?

It is possible that once you have adopted a child, you may be entitled to parental leave benefits. Certain other criteria must be met, so check with the Australian Government Department of Social Services if you are eligible for support.

If you are adopting a baby or child, you may be able to get a newborn down payment and a newborn supplement. Note that you cannot get this payment together with the parental leave allowance.

How much does it cost?

For international adoption (adopting a child from abroad), you can expect STCA fees to cost between $3,000 and $12,000 per application. You will also need to pay fees to the partner country, as well as pay for document preparation and translation, travel and accommodation costs, and incidentals.

Even once your application fees have been paid, you are still not sure that a child will be placed with you.

LAW New South Wales NT QLD HER TAS CIV Washington
Administrative file fees $1,768 $1,000 $4,422 $324 $1,879.40 $1,009
home study $2,999 $4,260 $2,300 $5,009.20 $1,526.04 $3,834.30 $1,328
General preparation,
education and training programs
$362 $640 $350
Post adoption services $1,217 $1,000 $2,146.85 $810 $3,472.90
Expression of interest $885 $143.70
Preparing the file to be
sent abroad
$1,300 – $1,900 $2,947 $810 $1,880.90
Placement (after allocation) $4,800 $3,749
Total $6,346 $9,700 $5,600 – $6,200 $7,156 $12,003 $3,470 $11,211 $2,687
Below is a guide to the State and Territory Central Authority (STCA) fees. You should contact your local STCA for detailed costs.

What is open adoption?

Australia practices open adoption for both domestic and intercountry adoptions, where adopted children grow up knowing they have been adopted and, where possible, are supported to have a relationship or knowledge of their family of origin and their cultural heritage.

Anyone intending to adopt a child must obtain an adoption order, which legally transfers all parental rights and responsibilities from the biological parents to the adoptive parents. Any legal rights the child has in relation to their biological parents, such as inheritance, are taken away. The child can also obtain a new birth certificate mentioning the name(s) of the adoptive parents, as well as the new name of the child, if it has been changed.

What are the known adoptions?

A known adoption could be when one of the following applies:

• Your child lives with you before the adoption process begins

• The purpose of adoption is to formalize a parental relationship.

For example, we consider the formal adoption of an existing stepchild or adoptive child to be a known adoption.

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