The small number of children who need a family each year will have particular needs.
Adoption Victoria works to find families who have the capacity to provide for these needs.
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
- age limits and adoption
- how to apply to adopt
- applying to be permanent carer
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.
Eligibility and marital status
You can apply if you are:
- currently married or living in a de facto relationship for at least two years
- 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.
Families being sought
Each year there are many more people that want to adopt than there are children who require families.
Adoption Victoria seeks applications from families who can meet 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.
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.
It recognises that children benefit when their birth and adoptive families remain in contact after an adoption order has been made.
An open attitude to adoption means accepting that the child will have significant connections to more than one family.
It is a key part of how adoption is practiced in Victoria.
It is based on the willingness of adoptive and birth families to:
- know about each other
- exchange information
- where possible, build relationships through direct contact.
An open attitude to adoption gives children the opportunity to talk about their life story and birth family. It helps them accept their own history and experience.
4. Diversity of possible adoptive parents
When a parent consents to the adoption of their child, they are often involved in selecting the adopting family.
Birth parents may express wishes relating to:
- the background of the applicants
- location of the family home
- many other factors that may be important to them.
There are no fees to adopt a child from Victoria. You may incur legal costs when you apply for an adoption order in the County Court. There are fees if you are applying to adopt a child from overseas.
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.
How to apply to adopt
Step 1: Choose a program
In Victoria you can be approved to adopt through:
- Adoption Victoria (a government delivered program)
- one of the four approved non-government adoption agencies.
If you want to apply through one of the four approved non-government adoption agencies, contact them directly.
Step 2: Make contact
If you choose to apply through Adoption Victoria, you can contact us by:
- emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- calling 03 8608 5700 (local call cost).
An information kit that covers adoption in Victoria is available on request. You can also attend an information session.
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 email@example.com
Step 3: Register your interest
You can register your interest to adopt a child by completing the Adoption Victoria questionnaire. This is available from Adoption Victoria when you make contact. It comes with an information kit that covers adoption in Victoria.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
If you meet the basic eligibility and suitability requirements, you will be placed on the department's list of people who have submitted a registration of interest. The department will then invite people to undertake the formal application process from this list on an as needs basis.
Step 4: Invitation to apply
Adoption Services works to make sure a range of approved people able to meet the needs of the children who require adoption are available.
From time to time we will invite people to apply to be assessed as fit and proper persons to adopt a child.
Invitations will only be extended to people who have registered their interest.
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
After you have attended education and we have received your application, 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 needs of children requiring adoption.
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.
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
It is rare that a family is matched with a child very soon after they are 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.
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.