Adoption Victoria works in partnership with Intercountry Adoption Australia to support overseas adoption programs.
The Hague Convention 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 requirements to be an adoptive parent or family
- characteristics of families being sought for adoption
- costs associated with adoption
- how to apply to adopt
- more information about the adoption process
To be eligible to adopt a child from overseas, adoptive families in Victoria must meet two sets of eligibility requirements.
- 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:
- health issues
- family composition
- 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 website.
If you are not eligible for the Intercountry Adoption Program, you may be eligible for the permanent care 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 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.
- 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.
Applicants will pay fees to the Department of Treasury and Finance Victoria and the overseas partner country.
Fees payable Department of Treasury and Finance Victoria are available in the Automatically Indexed fees and fines list. Please note that fees are slightly different for people who have previously adopted a child under the Adoption Act 1984
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 . 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:
- emailing email@example.com
- calling 03 8608 5700 (local call cost).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
- 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.
- read the accompanying information kit to understand the details of Victorian requirements for adoption
- complete the questionnaire
- send the questionnaire to to email@example.com
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 and education
Before being assessed as suitable to adopt, you will need to complete a detailed application and attend education.
The application includes but is not limited to:
- police checks
- medical checks
- working-with-children and child protection checks
- financial statements
- a life story to provide background information.
You will also 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 6: 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 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:
- 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 7: Approval
Approval is a formal process under the Adoption Act 1984 .
The Act requires that approved people are placed on a register. This register is used to match families with children requiring adoption.
Step 8: 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
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
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.