Contact with organisations in another country by intercountry adoption support organisations

Support organisations should not facilitate pre-placement contact for prospective adoptive parents or seek information about the progress of their applications. Prior to the child’s placement, all contact between prospective adoptive parents and adoption authorities in the child’s country of origin (and persons with care of children) should occur through state or territory central authorities.

Many support organisations in Australia have longstanding relationships with orphanages in the countries of Australian adoptees’ origin. Executive officers of support organisations often need to maintain regular contact (including direct visits) to ensure their fundraising and other support services are meeting the needs of the organisations they are supporting. However, support organisations that encourage, facilitate, or act on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in making pre-placement contact with a child, an orphanage or a social worker from an orphanage, may be in contravention of Article 29 of the Hague Convention.

There shall be no contact between the prospective adoptive parents and the child's parents or any other person who has care of the child until the requirements of Article 4, sub-paragraphs a) to c), and Article 5, sub paragraph a), have been met, unless the adoption takes place within a family or unless the contact is in compliance with the conditions established by the competent authority of the State of origin.

As noted in the ‘Pre-placement contact by prospective adoptive parents’ information on this page, while Article 29 only prohibits contact prior to all consents being received, any contact can open the possibility of donations and contributions being sought, and risks the transparency or future of Australia’s intercountry adoption programs.

It is therefore strongly recommended that support organisations:

  1. Consult their relevant State or Territory Central Authority to determine whether contact is appropriate.
  2. Inform prospective adoptive parents who enquire about opportunities for pre placement contact, or information about the progress of their application, that this can only occur through their Central Authority. Any activity outside of Australia’s existing pathways may be inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the Hague Convention and invite a risk of illicit practices. This may include seeking donations in return for expediting the application, inappropriate or premature contact, and may contribute to the appearance of, and possibly the inadvertent involvement of, Australians in illicit practices.
  3. Respectfully decline invitations for pre placement contact between prospective adoptive parents in Australia and children from their orphanage or adoption agency, citing Australia’s obligations under the Hague Convention.
  4. Remind prospective adoptive parents that Australia is committed to the principles of the Hague Convention and all such contact in Australia should occur through the Central Authorities.
  5. All requests for information on the progress of applications should be referred to State and Territory Central Authorities.

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