Australia

Last Updated: December 2010

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

Australia is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Convention ). Therefore all inter-country adoptions in Australia must meet the requirements of the Convention.

Under the Hague Convention, Australia is a receiving country only and does not have an outgoing inter-country adoption program to place Australian children with families seeking to adopt from overseas.

For domestic and intercountry adoptions by prospective adoptive parents residing in Australia, each State and Territory is responsible for assessing and approving adoption applications in accordance with its particular legislation. Depending on the applicable State legislation, prospective adoptive parents must generally be resident in that State and at least one applicant should be either an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia to be eligible to adopt.

Therefore, adoptions of Australian children by citizens of the United States residing outside Australia and/or who do not hold Australian citizenship or permanent residency are not permitted.

Who Can Adopt

Each State and Territory in Australia has its own legislation relating to domestic and intercountry adoption by residents of Australia. The legislation is generally referred to as the State's 'Adoption Act' and is supported by regulations which govern the process of adoption in that particular State or Territory.

Prospective adoptive parents residing in Australia and seeking to adopt children domestically or from overseas must meet the legislative requirements of the relevant State or Territory in order to be eligible for adoption.

Specific State or Territory adoption legislation and regulations can be obtained from the website of the relevant State or Territory adoption authorities ('State and Territory Central Authorities') (listed at the end of this flyer in the Contact Information section).

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Australian residency requirements are dependent on the State or Territory in which the prospective adoptive parents reside. Generally, to be eligible to adopt, at least one of the prospective applicants must be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia. Information about residency in Australia may be obtained from the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC, from any Australian Embassy or Consulate, or from the website of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship at: http://www.immi.gov.au
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: Varies depending on the relevant State or Territory. Prospective adoptive parents must generally be at least 18 years of age.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Varies depending on the relevant State or Territory. Generally married couples, de-facto couples, and single persons are able to adopt .
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: Criteria used to assess suitability to adopt vary depending on the relevant State or Territory. Prospective adoptive parents' income may be relevant to determining their suitability to adopt in some States and Territories.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: Other eligibility requirements (for example, the health of prospective adoptive parents) are applicable depending on the requirements of the relevant State or Territory. Information about State‑specific eligibility requirements is available from the website of the relevant State Central Authority (listed at the end of this flyer in the Contact Information section).

Who Can Be Adopted

Australia is party to the Hague Convention, but is a receiving country only and does not have an outgoing inter-country adoption program.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Requirements vary depending upon the relevant State or Territory. Generally the child must be under 18 years old and unmarried. Adoption should only occur if there are no other alternatives available for the child to remain with their family of origin. The welfare and the interests of the child are regarded as the paramount consideration at all times. Information about State‑specific eligibility requirements is available from the website of the relevant State or Territory Central Authority (listed at the end of this flyer in the Contact Information section).

How To Adopt

Australia's Adoption Authorities

The Australian Central Authority for Inter-country Adoption is the Australian Government Attorney‑General's Department, Intercountry Adoption Branch. The Commonwealth Government, through the Attorney-General's Department, has responsibility for the establishment and overall management of Australia's intercountry adoption programs.

State and Territory Central Authorities have responsibility for processing individual adoption applications and assessing prospective adoptive parents to determine their suitability to adopt. A list of State and Territory Central Authorities is provided at the end of this flyer in the Contact Information section.

The Process

All inter-country adoption processes by Australian citizens and/or permanent residents living in Australia are conducted in accordance with the Hague Convention. The inter-country adoption process used in each State and Territory is similar, but not identical. Generally, the adoption process in each State and Territory begins with a formal application and a detailed assessment of the applicant. If a prospective parent is deemed suitable by the State their application is forwarded overseas for approval. If successful, the overseas authority then sends a placement proposal to the State or Territory Central Authority for approval. Finally, the parents are invited to travel to meet the child they have been matched with overseas. Waiting times between approval and placement proposal may vary on depending on the country the child is being adopted from. Differences in process and requirements may also occur in each overseas country with which Australia has a program. State and Territory Central Authorities provide support and supervision following placement. The way in which an adoption is finalized depends upon the process used in the country of origin and the relevant State or Territory procedures.

Further general information on the adoption process can be obtained by visiting the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department website: http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/agd.nsf/Page/IntercountryAdoption_Theintercountryadoptionprocess

Information about State specific process requirements is available from the website of the relevant State or Territory Central Authority (listed at the end of this flyer in the Contact Information section).

Contact Information

U.S. Mission in Australia U.S. Consulate General, Sydney
Level 59 MLC Centre,
19-29 Martin Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
Australia
Tel: 61 2 9373 9200
Email: sydneyacs@state.gov.au
Internet: http://sydney.usconsulate.gov

The U.S. also has consular representatives in Canberra, Melbourne, and Perth.

Australian Central Authority for Intercountry Adoption

Australian Government Attorney-General's Department
Intercountry Adoption Branch
Robert Garran Offices
3-5 National Circuit
Barton ACT 2600
Phone: 61 2 6141 3217
Email: intercountryadoption@ag.gov.au
Web: http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/agd.nsf/Page/Intercountry_Adoption

Australia's State and Territory Adoption Central Authorities:
http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/agd.nsf/Page/IntercountryAdoption_AustralianandStateandTerritoryCentralAuthorities

Embassy of Australia
The Embassy of Australia
1601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 797-3000
Fax: (202) 797-3209
Email: http://www.usa.embassy.gov.au/whwh/home.html

Australia also maintains Consulates General and Consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AdoptionUSCA@state.gov
http://adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)