Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services

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Intercountry adoption

The Queensland and Intercountry Adoption Handbook, available upon request from Adoption Services provides information for couples seeking to express interest in being assessed as suitable adoptive parents for a child from overseas.

How many children from overseas are adopted by Queensland families each year? 

Year2008-092009-102010-112011-122012-13
Number of children from overseas adopted by Queensland families 49 38 35 20 23
  • It is not possible to estimate the number of children from overseas who may require an adoptive placement with Queensland couples in any given year.  It is anticipated that overseas adoption authorities will continue to seek adoptive placements in Queensland for a small number of children each year
  • There is no guarantee that a child will ever be placed with a couple who expresses interest and is assessed as suitable adoptive parents. 
  • Adoption Services cannot predict when a child may need an adoptive family due to the small number of placement s with Queensland families overseas adoption authorities   seek for children each year.
  • Information regarding the number of children from overseas adopted by   families in Queensland, and across Australia, is available in the annual Adoptions Australia report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare www.aifs.gov.au .

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Adopting a child from overseas

Intercountry adoption provides permanent legal families in Queensland for children from overseas for whom an appropriate adoptive family cannot be found in the country of origin.

The department is committed to ensuring intercountry adoption practices in Queensland comply with the Adoption Act 2009 and the principles of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption to ensure the best interests of the child are met.

The Queensland and Intercountry Adoption Handbook, available upon request from Adoption Services, provides in depth information for couples interested in being assessed as suitable adoptive parents for a child from overseas.

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Backgrounds of children requiring placement through intercountry adoption

Children from overseas requiring adoptive placements in Queensland are generally between six months and six years of age.

Overseas adoption authorities determine which adoptive families can best meet the placement needs of children requiring an adoptive family.

Children from overseas requiring adoptive placements may have a range of medical needs and complex family and social backgrounds.

The medical needs of children have included:

  • prematurity
  • low birth weight
  • malnutrition
  • Hepatitis C
  • minor medical conditions
  • minor and/or correctable physical disabilities.

Complex family and social backgrounds have included issues related to the:

  • birth parent and family health history
  • parents' social circumstances
  • circumstances of the child's conception
  • child having been abandoned
  • child's extended birth family
  • child residing in institutionalised care for an extended period of time.

Further information about the background and needs of children requiring adoptive placements from specific countries is available from the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department's Intercountry Adoption Branch.

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Eligibility criteria - who can express an interest?

Couples expressing interest in being assessed as prospective adoptive parents are required to meet the eligibility criteria set out in the Adoption Act 2009.

Couples are eligible to have their names entered in the expression of interest register, if:

  • they are a man and a woman who have been living together as spouses (either married or de facto) continuously for at least two years, and are currently living together
  • they are both adults who are residing in Queensland
  • at least one of them is an Australian citizen
  • the female partner is not pregnant
  • neither partner is undergoing fertility treatment and have not undergone fertility treatment within the previous six months
  • they are not an intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement within the meaning of the Surrogacy Act 2010
  • if they have been an intended parent for a surrogacy arrangement within the meaning of the Surrogacy Act 2010 and the surrogacy arrangement ended not less than 6 months earlier
  • the couple does not have custody* of a child under one year of age or a child who has been in their custody for less than one year (*does not include children of whom the person is an approved carer).

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How to express interest

Couples seeking to express interest in being adoptive parents for a child from an overseas country must complete the Adoption Expression of Interest (PDF, 88 KB)Adoption Expression of Interest (RTF, 162 KB) form and forward it to Adoption Services. A Guide to completing an adoption expression of interest form (PDF, 87 KB)Guide to completing an adoption expression of interest form (RTF, 69 KB) has been developed to assist couples to complete this form.

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What happens after an expression of interest is lodged?

After a couple expresses interest by completing the Adoption Expression of Interest form their eligibility will be determined by Adoption Services and they are notified of the outcome. If the couple is eligible, their names are entered on the expression of interest register.

The entry of a couple's names on the expression of interest does not give them a right to have their suitability to be adoptive parents assessed.

The number of couples to be selected for assessment from the expression of interest register varies from year to year as the number of assessments is based on the anticipated need of particular country programs. Please refer to Australian Attorney General's Department's Intercountry Adoption Branch for information about the number of children adopted from overseas in recent years.

If the couple is selected to have their suitability assessed, they will be sent a notice of selection.

If a couple does not receive a notice of selection for assessment within two years of their expression of interest, the expression of interest will expire. After this, a couple may lodge another expression of interest, should they wish to do so.

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Assessment fee

Couples who receive a notice of selection for assessment are required to pay the assessment fee.

The assessment fee is set out in the Adoption Regulation 2009 and is subject to change.

The intercountry adoption assessment fee is payable in two parts.

The first part of the assessment fee is required after couples receive a notice of selection for assessment.

The second part of the assessment fee is required prior to commencement of the home study.

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Suitability assessment

About the assessment

When a couple receives a notice of assessment, they are jointly assessed to see if they are suitable to parent an adopted child together, however they must also be found suitable as individuals.

Assessment is a comprehensive process that involves information being gathered and analysed from a variety of sources. The department can obtain this information by:

  • asking the couple to complete a workshop or similar educational activity
  • visiting the couple's home and talking with them
  • talking with referees nominated by the couple and anyone else with relevant information
  • obtaining expert advice about the couples' health
  • asking the couple to prepare documents, for example, a profile of their family
  • obtaining information from government departments including criminal and domestic violence history, and investigative information and traffic history from the Queensland Police Service.

Due to the small number of children overseas adoption authorities seek to place with Queensland families each year there is no guarantee that a couple assessed as suitable to parent an adopted child will be placed with a child.

Overseas country eligibility requirements

In addition to meeting eligibility criteria set out in the Queensland Adoption Act 2009, couples seeking to adopt a child from overseas must also meet eligibility criteria specified by the individual countries with which Queensland has adoption programs.

In some instances, eligibility criteria specified by adoption authorities in overseas countries are more restrictive than those prescribed in Queensland legislation.

Couples who are eligible in Queensland can be assessed as adoptive parents for a child from an overseas country only if they also meet the eligibility criteria specified by the relevant country.

Further information about the eligibility requirements of specific countries is available from the Australian Attorney General's Department's Intercountry Adoption Branch.

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Management of intercountry adoption programs

The Australian Attorney General's Department's Intercountry Adoption Branch is responsible for establishing new, and managing existing, intercountry adoption programs with overseas governments. The department provides updated information about country programs to states and territories in Australia.

Information about specific countries' adoption programs is available from the Attorney General's Department's Intercountry Adoption Branch.

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Adoption information sessions

Information sessions for couples interested in expressing interest in the Queensland and Intercountry Childrens Adoption Programs may be provided from time to time by the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services for people wanting more information about adoption in Queensland.

For further information contact Adoption Services by telephone on (07) 3224 7415 or 1800 647 983 (free call within Queensland) or by email to ads@communities.qld.gov.au.

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