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Are you able to adopt a child from overseas to Australia?

by | Oct 20, 2023 | Family Law

If you are looking to adopt a child and domestic avenues are not available or of interest to you, you may be eligible for “intercountry adoption” in which you can adopt a child from an overseas country.

To be eligible, you must satisfy the eligibility criteria of both the Australian State in which you live and the destination country in which you are seeking to adopt from.

In Victoria, you do not need any special qualifications to be an adoptive parent and you can apply if you are currently married or have been living in a de facto relationship for at least two years. You may also adopt as a single person, however there are some restrictions on what children you are eligible to adopt. Where the child being adopted is not automatically an Australian citizen, then at least one adopting parent must be an Australian citizen. Further information on the eligibility criteria of each Australian State can be found below:


Australia is partnered with several overseas countries for intercountry adoption, and each of these countries has their own prescribed eligibility criteria. These countries currently include:

  • Bulgaria
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Latvia
  • Poland
  • South Africa
  • South Kora
  • Sri Lanka
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand

In general, the eligibility criteria from the above overseas countries includes the following matters:

  • Relationship status and length (noting that many countries do not accept same sex couples, de facto couples, and single people);
  • Age and age gaps between the adopting parents and also with the children for adoption;
  • The number of children you already have;
  • Health status requiring physical, mental and emotional stability (cannot suffer from an illness, physical or mental, that would prevent the parent from caring for the child);
  • Citizenship (most countries require that at least one parent is an Australian citizen);
  • Education, language, religion and culture;
  • Financial status and stability; and
  • Criminal record.

In considering whether intercountry adoption is suitable for you, it is important to note the capacity of care you have available as the children in need of intercountry adoption are generally those with special needs, have a family history of mental illness, and/or have complicated social histories. Further considerations include:

  • Application requirements (police, medical and child protection checks, education attendance, financial statements, references, character statements, etc.);
  • Adoption fees and donations (if any);
  • Lengthy application process and processing times;
  • Costs relating to translating, travel and accommodation, obtaining reports and evaluations;
  • Reporting requirements following adoption (you may also be required to maintain contact with the child’s birth family);
  • Arranging immigration and citizenship for the child (you may also apply for an adoption visa (subclass 102) and then citizenship by conferral, and our Migration team here at Nevett Ford can assist you should you require assistance with such services).

Further helpful information on intercountry adoption and Australia’s partner countries is available from Intercountry Adoption Australia which can be accessed here: https://www.intercountryadoption.gov.au/

If you are considering intercountry adoption and are unsure of whether you satisfy the eligibility criteria or if you are confused about the process generally and your legal obligations as an applicant, please contact our Family Law team at Nevett Ford Lawyers on (03) 9614 7111.