Crucial Information For Parents Wishing To Adopt A Child From Overseas

Although child adoption is a matter that family lawyers are sought out for advice and representation regularly, an adoption matter they are asked about that is much less common is overseas adoption. Known as intercountry adoption this is when prospective parents wish to adopt a child that is not an Australian citizen and who lives overseas.

As you might expect, the process and criteria that must be met to adopt an overseas child are somewhat complicated and also have several different eligibility rules compared to adopting an Australian child. This is why adoptive parents must seek the advice of family lawyers who have expert knowledge of intercountry adoption before they proceed.

If you were not aware that intercountry adoption was possible and have no knowledge of it, or are at the start of the adoption process, we thought it would be useful to outline some of the basics which apply so that you have a better understanding of the procedures and criteria that apply.

Partner Countries From Which Intercountry Adoption Is Possible

Due to the Hague convention, which is an international treaty that seeks to prevent child trafficking and illegal adoption, intercountry adoption rules are strict and there are many limitations. One of them is that the number of countries from which an Australian citizen can adopt a child is limited to just thirteen partner countries. Those countries are:

Europe: Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland

South America: Chile, Columbia

Africa: South Africa

Asia: China, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand

As you can see that is a diverse list that includes countries with different cultures, laws, religions, and ethnic groups. Also, each of them has varying eligibility rules for parents from overseas countries, including Australia, who wish to adopt a child from that country.

Eligibility Rules Of Partner Countries

Though some of the specifics may differ from partner country to partner country, most of them will be based on the following criteria.

  • Who is eligible to adopt a child
  • Characteristics of children who can be adopted
  • Expected waiting times for the adoption to be authorised and completed
  • Applicable costs of adoption
  • Arrangements for finalising the adoption and the post-adoption procedures
  • Arrangements for immigration and citizenship

It should be clear that for any Australian parents to adopt a child from one of the partner countries, they must meet all of that country’s intercountry adoption eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Rules Within Australia

It is also the case that to adopt an overseas child, the adoption eligibility rules which apply in Australia and the relevant state or territory will also have to be met by the adoptive parents. Given that each state or territory has differing eligibility rules we cannot list them all here, so we recommend that you contact the adoption services office where you live or check their website. Alternatively, your family lawyers should be able to provide you with them.

Intercountry Adoption Process

Given the number of possible variations as to who has jurisdiction over the adoption, be that at the state level or the county you are adopting the child from, the process may differ. However, in most cases, it will follow these steps.

  • Eligibility Check: This will assess and confirm that you meet all the applicable eligibility rules.
  • Orientation/Application/Assessment: If you meet the eligibility rules you are then expected to consider the adoption in more depth including how it will affect your family. You can then make your application which will then be evaluated by the relevant adoption service.
  • Application To Partner Country: Your application, including a dossier containing details about you and your family, is sent to the partner country you wish to adopt from.
  • Child Match And Placement: This is where a child considered to be a match for you and your family will be allocated for adoption. This will involve their immigration to Australia which must be cleared.
  • Adopted Child Joins Your Family: The child will join your family whereby the adoption authorities will fulfil their post-adoption obligations including supporting you and the adopted child in the early stages.