The Office of Adoption Services Victoria at 570 Bourke St Melbourne is closed until further notice.

Our Case Managers are still available to assist via telephone and email. Please email details of your enquiry to adoption@justice.vic.gov.au (External link) and your email will be forwarded to the relevant team for action.

Adoption Victoria works in partnership with Intercountry Adoption Australia (External link) to support overseas adoption programs.

The Hague Convention (External link) says that adoption between countries:

  • must always be in the best interests of the child
  • should only occur when there are no appropriate adoptive families available in the child’s country of birth.

One of the reasons that adoption from overseas has decreased over time is that partner countries have turned to adoptive families available in their country.

On this page you can learn about:

Eligibility

To be eligible to adopt a child from overseas, adoptive families in Victoria must meet two sets of eligibility requirements.

These are:

  • the requirements of the adoption program of the child’s country of birth
  • the legal requirements within Victoria.

You can read more about each of these below.

Overseas country eligibility requirements

Each overseas country program has its own set of eligibility requirements for adoptive families.

These can include limitations around:

  • age
  • health issues
  • finances
  • family composition
  • fertility
  • education, religion and cultural background.

Some overseas countries programs do not accept applications from:

  • single applicants
  • couples in same-sex relationships.

You will find comprehensive information on overseas country eligibility requirements on the Intercountry Adoption Australia (External link) website.

If you are not eligible for the Intercountry Adoption Program, you may be eligible for the permanent care (External link) program.

Victorian eligibility requirements

You do not need any special qualifications to be an adoptive parent. The experiences and skills of all families are welcome.

In Victoria, you can apply if you are an adult and normally live in Victoria.

You can apply if you are:

  • currently married or living in a de facto relationship for at least two years or
  • a single person.

Couples include same-sex and gender diverse couples.

The Adoption Act 1984 (External link) does place restrictions on when the court can grant an adoption to single people. This can affect which children a single person can be matched to.

It is important to remember that for overseas adoption, applicants must meet both Victorian eligibility requirements and the country of birth.

Australian citizenship requirements

Victorian law requires that if the child you are adopting is not automatically an Australian citizen, you must be an Australian citizen. If you are applying as a couple, then at least one person must be an Australian citizen.

Many overseas countries also have a requirement as part of their adoption programs that at least one applicant must be an Australian citizen.

Families being sought

The characteristics of families being sought for the adoption of children from overseas is determined by the overseas program.

They usually include the following characteristics.

1. Readiness to adopt

You are capable of receiving a child in your home. This could happen soon after you are approved.

Making sure you are ready to adopt means considering the needs of any children already in your family, especially infants under one year old. It also means considering plans you may have for fertility treatment, surrogacy or pregnancy.

Children who require adoption often have additional needs that need to be supported.

2. Capability to parent children with a range of additional needs

Children who require adoption often have additional needs that need to be supported.

These include:

  • ongoing contact with their natural family
  • disability or significant health issues
  • vulnerability to developing health issues later in their childhood
  • complex backgrounds
  • developmental trauma and,
  • a culturally or linguistically diverse background.

3. Commitment to open adoption

Open adoption supports ongoing contact between an adopted person and their birth and adoptive families.

When a child is adopted from overseas it is less common for children to have direct contact with birth family, though this does sometimes occur.

Open adoption recognises the benefit for children to retain a close connection to their culture and be supported have access to information about their history.

An open attitude to adoption gives children the opportunity to talk about their life story and birth family. It helps them to value and accept their own history and experience.

Costs

Applicants will pay fees to:

Fee description Cost for first application* Cost for person who has previously adopted a child*
Fee to register interest in adopting a non-citizen child $143.70 $143.70
Fee for assessment of applicants for adoption of child outside Australia $3834.30 $2242.20
Fee for administrative and other expenses incurred by the Secretary or principal officer in preparing the application $1735.70 $1446.90
Fee for preparation of documents for the overseas country from which the child is being adopted $1880.90 $1880.90
Fee for preparation of reports in relation to post-placement supervision and support of the child $1446.90 $1446.90
Fee for supervision of a child $2026.00 $2026.00

*Please note that fees are slightly different for people who have previously adopted a child under the Adoption Act 1984 (External link).

How to adopt from overseas

Step 1: Consider the overseas programs

Each overseas program has different requirements of applicants, profiles of children, fees and processes. 

You can find out more about each program from Intercountry Adoption Australia (External link). In order to adopt from these programs, you need to be approved by Adoption Victoria and your application will then be sent to that program.

Step 2: Make contact

You can contact Adoption Victoria by:

Information sessions

Many people find out more about adoption by attending an information session. You do not have to attend, but the session can give you an overview of how the program works.

If you wish to register your interest for an information session, email  adoptionsvic@justice.vic.gov.au (External link)

You can get the same information in the Adoption Victoria Information Kit, which can be emailed to you on request. 

Step 3: Register your interest

You can register your interest to adopt a child by completing the Adoption Victoria questionnaire.

The questionnaire covers a range of questions aimed at identifying your:

  • interest
  • capacity
  • knowledge
  • understanding of the needs of children who may require adoption.

The questionnaire covers adoption from within Victoria or by overseas partner programs for intercountry adoption.  

To register:

  • read the accompanying information kit to understand the details of Victorian requirements for adoption
  • complete the questionnaire
  • send the questionnaire to Adoption Victoria, Level 20/ 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne Vic 3000.

Before submitting your registration of interest, please check you meet the Victorian requirements.

Once we receive the completed questionnaire, we will send you an electronic receipt.

A worker is then allocated and will have four weeks to review and decide on the eligibility and suitability of the family. 

Step 4: Invitation to apply

Overseas programs do not continuously accept applications to adopt. 

When we receive your application, we will consider when the overseas country is likely to be accepting applications as well as the profile of children in that country for whom families are being sought.

Step 5: Application

Before being assessed as suitable to adopt, you will need to complete a detailed application, which includes but is not limited to:

  • police checks
  • medical checks
  • working-with-children and child protection checks
  • financial statements
  • references
  • a life story to provide background information.

Step 6: Education sessions

After we receive your application, you will be required to attend education sessions. These sessions will help you understand the adoption process and prepare you for the challenges of bringing an adopted child into your family.

Step 7: Assessment

A case manager will meet with you to prepare an assessment report.

We assess your application against requirements outlined in the Adoption Act 1984 (External link) and Adoption Regulations 2019 and take into consideration the needs of children requiring adoption.

We also assess your application against requirements of the overseas country.  This may include:

  • physical and psychological health medical reports
  • criminal, traffic, family violence and child protection history checks.

Assessment requirements will include home visits to speak with:

  • you
  • your children
  • other adult household members
  • your nominated referees. 

More information about the assessment is available in the Adoption Victoria Information Kit.

At this step you will be required to pay the first fee.

Step 8: Approval

Approval is a formal process under the Adoption Act 1984 (External link).

The Act requires that approved people are placed on a register. This register is used to match families with children requiring adoption.

Step 9: Working with Adoption Victoria

Once a family is approved, their file is ready to be sent to the overseas program.  Usually this is sent immediately but sometimes the overseas program will require the file to be held until they are ready to accept it.

It is rare that a family is matched with a child very soon after the family is approved to adopt. Usually, approved families continue to work with Adoption Victoria after approval. They prepare for the challenges of bringing an adopted child into their family. Many families develop capacity to provide for a wider variety of children during this time.

More information about the adoption process

Age limit

There is no age limit to apply to adopt, but you should be fit and healthy enough to care for a child through to adulthood.

For intercountry adoption, the overseas country programs set their own requirements relating to the age of applicants.

Applying to adopt locally and overseas

You can be approved to adopt locally and from overseas at the same time. 

If you are approved to adopt from overseas

All people who are approved to adopt from an overseas partner country are also approved to adopt a child placed for adoption in Victoria.  Once you are approved to adopt you can nominate whether you want to also be considered for a Victorian child.

If you are approved to adopt locally

If you are approved to adopt a Victorian child, you can later apply to adopt from overseas.  If you were approved by an approved adoption agency, we will seek your consent to access all information about any assessment and training you have undertaken. Generally, this will shorten the process for approving you to adopt. 

Please note that even if you are already approved to adopt a Victorian child, you will need to pay all fees associated with intercountry adoption.

Applying to be a permanent carer

You can seek to be approved as a permanent carer first through any of the permanent care programs (External link)

If you later apply to adopt, we will seek your consent to access all information about any assessment and training you have undertaken to be approved as a permanent carer. Generally, this will shorten the process for approving you to adopt.

Find out more

Contact Adoption Victoria

(03) 8608 5700
1300 769 926 (local call cost)
1800 130 225 (national free call)

adoptionsvic@justice.vic.gov.au (External link)

Level 20, 570 Bourke Street
Melbourne, 3000
Victoria