Choosing to adopt a child is a big decision and the complex adoption process in Australia can make this decision seem even bigger. It may leave you thinking that it’s all too hard. But don’t give up hope — this short guide to adoption in Australia is here to get you started on this worthwhile and wonderful journey.
Steps to Adopting
The process for adoption can vary between states and territories in Australia. Regardless of where you are, however, you can expect these general steps.
- Contact adoption agency or government department
You need to speak with the relevant adoption authority, which may be an agency or a government department. There you can express your desire to adopt and they can direct you to the next step.
- Go to information session
Before starting the adoption process, you may be required to attend an information session. This session will explain how the process works and what you can expect.
- Undergo assessment and training
If you are still interested in adopting, you will need to be trained and assessed. This will focus on helping prepare you to parent your child and ensuring you are suitable. Depending on your state, as well as the department or agency you’re working with, the criteria for assessment will vary. It can include marital status, financial circumstances, and medical and criminal records checks.
- Wait to be matched
Once you’ve passed any necessary training and assessment, you need to be matched to a child. This can take many years as the department or agency wants to ensure a good match between you and the child requiring care. It’s important to be patient during this time.
- Child is placed with you
When a child is placed with you, the agency or government department will keep in contact with you. This is to provide after-adoption support to you and the child, and ensure it’s a good match.
Types of Adoption Available
The process of adoption may change depending on the type of adoption you’re considering. In Australia, there are three types of adoption.
- Local adoption
A child born or living permanently in Australia is adopted by parents who generally have had no contact or relationship with the biological parents. The biological parent voluntarily puts the child up for adoption and may be involved in selecting the adoptive parents. Typically, the child is under two years old. This is a rare form of adoption and accounts for roughly 12% of adoptions in a year.
- Permanent care
Some children cannot stay with their birth family because of abuse, neglect or high care needs. They are therefore granted legal guardians outside of their biological family. As part of this permanent care adoption, the adoptive parent has legal custody of the child. However, the child may maintain contact with their birth family, depending on their unique situation. When the child is 18, the guardianship expires, but they are free to maintain a relationship with their adoptive parents.
- Intercountry adoption
The majority of adoptions in Australia are intercountry adoptions. This is where children from overseas are adopted and brought to live here. There may be additional or different processes and regulations to follow depending on the country the child is from.
Learn more by speaking with a family lawyer
Before starting the adoption process, it’s recommended that you do your research. This can include the steps required, as well as any training or assessment criteria. A great way to ensure you get clear and accurate information is to speak with a family lawyer.
Helping prospective parents navigate the complicated adoption process is just one of the many things family lawyers do. A family lawyer can help you find the right agency or department to speak with. They can also answer any questions you may have so that you fully comprehend the ins and outs of adopting a child in Australia.
Adoption is not an easy or quick process, but this is to ensure children in need will get the best care possible. If you’re thinking of adopting, make sure you are well-informed and know exactly what to expect. This can show you are an engaged and excited prospective parent who is taking the situation seriously.