Considering Overseas Adoption? Some Basic Information to Help You get Started

Publish Date: May 02, 2013

Many couples may view intercountry adoption as a viable option, with hundreds of children finding homes in Australia annually. Couples who are considering adopting overseas should be aware that there are stringent legal requirements associated with the process, not to mention the high financial and emotional costs that may be involved with the experience. If you are considering adopting a child from another country, there are a few basic things you should be aware of before making an application, and as always, seek legal assistance before you do.

Who can adopt a child?

All States have their own legislative regimes relating to adoption, however, approval for adoption in the majority of cases are made in favour of married couples, or individuals who have been involved in a de facto relationship for at least two years. Only in exceptional circumstances will a person who is single will be approved for adoption.

An assessment will be made by a State adoption authority regarding the suitability of a couple making an application. Couples must be able to meet the fit and proper test, along with demonstrating that they are able to financially and emotionally support a child.

Adoption orders will be rejected if an applicant fails the character test, for example, a person who as previously been found guilty of a violent criminal offence against a child will automatically have their application denied. For other criminal matters, a decision will be made on the suitability of an applicant by taking into account the type of offence that was committed, as well as other factors, such as their overall character since the offence.

It is essential that extensive background and character checks are conducted to ensure that all applicants are suitable to fulfil the role of responsible parents.

The intercountry adoption process

Once an application is submitted, an assessment will be conducted to ensure that the parties meet State and Federal requirements. The application process may include:

  • interviews
  • evaluations of the physical and psychological health of the applicants
  • an exploration of the motivation and expectations of the applicants for considering adopting a child from overseas
  • an enquiry of the applicant’s capabilities to be good parents.

If a couple are judged as the most suitable candidates to adopt a child, and have accepted, the child can only enter Australia once the mandatory health requirements are met. The health check includes an x-ray, HIV/AIDS tests, and hepatitis B check, all which are conducted before entering the country. A final decision to grant an adoption visa is assessed on an individual basis by the proper Australian authorities.

It’s important to be aware that any child found to have an active case of tuberculosis will be automatically refused an adoption visa, as TB is prescribed as a public health risk under the Migration Regulations.

This piece is by no means exhaustive and couples who decide to embark on the intercountry adoption process may be confronted with a long and expensive process that does not guarantee success. Additionally, intercountry adoptions presents unique challenges and individuals who are intending to adopt a child from another country must always be prepared that they are capable of upholding the best interests of the child.

The overseas adoption process is complex with rigorous legal requirements. All potential applicants should always seek expert legal advice in regards to intercountry adoptions.

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