Adoption in Australia and Overseas

4 min read
Adoption in Australia and Overseas

Adopting a child is exciting and life-fulfilling, but by necessity it is an involved process. There are different requirements for adopting within Australia as opposed to adopting from overseas, and the laws can even change between states.

The following are details on some requirements on who is eligible and ineligible to adopt a child in Australia.

  • Criminal convictions (particularly those relating to children) are reviewed and may prohibit the applicant from adopting a child.
  • Adoption rules will typically prohibit a female prospective parent older than 50 from being able to adopt.
  • In most cases, if you are presently undertaking fertility treatment, it is not possible to apply to adopt a child.
  • In order to get the adoption process underway in Australia, you must be an Australian citizen.
  • In several states, if you already have four children, whether biological or adopted, you may be unable to adopt any further children.
  • Any health issues that could impact on the well-being of a child may be cause for an adoption application to be rejected.

Adoption in Australia and OverseasWhat if you’re related?

While it is legally possible to take on a guardianship role of a child related to you, this actually falls outside of the scope of ‘adoption’ as defined by the law in Australia. In these instances a family lawyer will be able to walk you through the process and provide further information.

Relationship status

When an adoption application is assessed and considered, special attention will be paid to the nature of the relationship, the length of it, as well as both partners in the relationship.

In several states single people are not permitted to adopt.


Several states have priority or provisions in place whereby couples must be infertile, or be unable to conceive naturally before they are considered for adopting children.   

International Adoption

The eligibility requirements for overseas adoptions are different in each state and territory.  Relative and known child adoptions are a matter for each state and territory adoption authority to consider on a case by case basis, and are conducted in accordance with the Hague Convention (an international agreement on such matters regarding children) and state and territory legislation.

If you live in Australia and are considering adopting a child from overseas, contact your state or territory adoption authority.

Adoption and immigration procedures vary depending on the country and the category under which the adoption takes place. The complex procedure involves allocation of a child from the overseas country through their state or territory adoption authority. After acceptance, the Adoption visa application is lodged and the child is required to undergo medical checks. The child may not be granted a visa if the health requirement is not met, unless there is a waiver of the health requirement. The adoption is finalised in the overseas country or the overseas authorities approve the child’s departure for adoption in Australia. Only then will a visa granting permanent residence to the child be granted.

State and territory adoption authorities do not generally support privately arranged adoptions. They will not help sponsors meet the requirements of the Migration Regulations for granting a visa to an adopted child.

‘Full and permanent’ adoption does not exist in the laws of some countries, for example, many Islamic countries. An adoption order that does not grant full parental rights to the adoptive parents is not acceptable for the grant of a visa.

If you wish to proceed with an adoption that has not been arranged by your state or territory adoption authority, it is strongly recommended you first seek legal advice both in Australia and in the overseas country.

Source: Adoption Australia

Depart of Immigration


Krissy Hacker is a wife and Mama of 2, mad gardener, crafty lady, confectioner and fabulous cook. Keen on old school ways of doing things she’d do anything to get out of housework!

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Kate Carlile

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