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

The Hague Convention (External link) specifies that adoption between countries must always be in the best interests of the child and should only occur when there are no appropriate adoptive families available in the child’s country of birth.

The Hague Convention specifies that adoption between countries must always be in the best interests of the child and 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.

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.

Single applicants are not eligible for all country programs.

Couples in same-sex relationships may apply to adopt under Victorian law, however not all overseas programs accept applications from 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.

If you are making an application to adopt a second or subsequent child through intercountry adoption, please see the Intercountry adoption Victoria information kit.

Who can apply

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

Families can apply to Adoption Victoria if they meet both the Victorian requirements and the selected overseas country's specified requirements.

You can apply if you:

  • an adult and normally reside in Victoria
  • currently married or living in a defacto relationship for a minimum period of two years
  • a single person.

If you are single the Court may be limited in the circumstances in which it can grant an adoption order. You will be required to provide documentary evidence to the court.

If the child you are adopting is not automatically an Australian citizen, you must be an Australian citizen (for couples one must be an Australian citizen). Many countries have a requirement that at least least one applicant must be an Australian citizen.

Age limit

There is no age limit in the Adoption Act 1984, but there is an expectation that you should be fit and healthy enough to care for a child safely through to adulthood. Broadly speaking, this means that you need to be within the spread of ages at which most people become parents. Some overseas country programs impose limitations around age.

Fertility treatment

If you've undertaken fertility treatment, you must have completed it at least six months before attending a training session.

Same-sex and gender diverse couples 

In Victoria, same-sex and gender diverse couples have the right to adopt children under the same circumstances as any other couple.

Many overseas adoption programs do not accept applications from same-sex and gender diverse couples. More information can be found about this from Adoptions Victoria.

Applying with other children in your care

We need to consider any current or potential children in your care. You must meet the following:

  • all existing children in your family, including birth, step or adopted children, are at least 12 months of age
  • the adopted child would be the youngest child in your family
  • any previously adopted child's placement is finalised and the adoption order granted
  • you are not currently engaged in a surrogacy arrangement as an intended parent
  • you are not currently undergoing fertility treatment
  • neither you or your partner is currently pregnant.

Costs

Applicants will pay fees to:

Department of Treasury and Finance Victoria fees for adoption (Valid from 1 July 2019)

Fee description Cost for first application* Cost for a 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.

How to adopt from overseas

Step 1: Make contact

Contact Adoption Victoria:

Step 2: Attend an information session

The information sessions will help you understand the processes and what you have to do.

The sessions are held regularly throughout Victoria, and you should attend one before you can proceed further with an application.

Step 3: Register your interest

Register your interest with Adoption Victoria. Before you apply, it is important to read the Intercountry Adoption Victoria information kit to get a basic understanding of the process and which overseas country programs are currently seeking families.

Complete the Adoption Victoria questionnaire and send your signed form to Intercountry Adoption Victoria:

Once we receive your registration of interest, we will contact you to discuss the completed questionnaire.

Families who meet all eligibility criteria will be invited to complete a full application for assessment of their suitability to adopt a child from overseas.

Intercountry adoption can only be arranged through Adoption Victoria.

Step 4: Application

You will be required to complete a detailed application, which involves:

  • police checks
  • medical checks
  • working-with-children check
  • references.

If you're in a de facto relationship, documentary evidence will also be required.

Step 5: Training sessions

Training sessions give you an understanding of 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 Act, any requirements of the overseas country and take into consideration what we know about the particular needs of the children.

We collect information from a range of sources in order to meet both the Victorian and overseas country requirements.

Assessment requirements may include:

  • home visits to speak with you, your children, other adult household members and your nominated referees
  • references and financial statements
  • physical and psychological health medical reports
  • criminal, traffic, family violence and child protection history checks
  • payment of government fees.

Step 7: Approval

The assessment report is prepared for a committee. You are given a copy of the report and are invited to participate in the committee meeting.

Dual approval to adopt and 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. 

Support for families who have adopted a child

If you have adopted a child and need additional support, you should contact the adoption service that arranged the adoption.

If the adoption was arranged by the Department of Health and Human Services, you should contact Adoption Victoria.

Families may also seek support for Permanent Care Adoptive Families or the Intercountry Adoption Family Support Service.

Intercountry Adoption Family Support Service

The Intercountry Adoption Family Support Service (External link) is a free, independent, nation-wide service available to couples, families and individuals who are engaged in the intercountry adoption process. The service also provides post placement support to children and their families, including expatriate adoptions, as well as adult intercountry adoptees.

The service provides counselling support and case management services to assist with a range of issues and challenges unique to the intercountry adoption experience. Services are provided free of charge.

The service is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services and is delivered by LifeWorks in partnership with International Social Service Australia.

Contact the Intercountry Adoption Support Coordinator: