Pre-placement contact by prospective adoptive parents, including travel to countries of origin

This section outlines Australia’s position on pre placement contact and travel prior to finalising an adoption and provides advice for prospective adoptive parents.

What is pre-placement contact?

Pre-placement contact refers to any form of contact (including email, telephone and face-to-face) prior to an adoption being finalised between a prospective adoptive parent (who has formally expressed interest in adoption) and:

  • a child, who is or may be in need of intercountry adoption
  • an individual or body responsible for caring for children who may be in need of adoption
  • an authority in another country involved in adoption.

Requirements of the Hague Convention

Australian Central Authorities only support pre-placement contact after confirmation from the country of origin and the relevant state or territory central authority that such contact is appropriate. Under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) prospective adoptive parents must generally not engage in pre-placement contact. This is because pre placement contact may:

  • be viewed as placing inappropriate pressure on, or seeking to influence, the decision of the governments and agencies of other countries
  • affect the decision of authorities in other countries to honour the placement of the child if an allocation has already been made
  • jeopardise the placement prospects for a child
  • jeopardise the transparency or future of Australia’s intercountry adoption program with the country of origin.

Under the Hague Convention, pre-placement contact may be appropriate in limited circumstances after a placement proposal has been accepted, including where:

  • the child has expressed their consent, wishes or opinions for pre-placement contact to occur
  • the state or territory central authority or country of origin determines that contact with prospective adoptive parents is desirable
  • contact with prospective adoptive parents is unavoidable
  • the authority of the country of origin requests prospective adoptive parents engage in pre placement contact
  • it is an intercountry relative or known child adoption.

General advice for prospective adoptive parents

It is strongly recommended that before making pre-placement contact of any type, prospective adoptive parents seek advice from their state or territory central authority.

Where the child’s country of origin has different processes and procedures, it is important for prospective adoptive parents to exercise caution and seek advice from their local central authority.

Advice for prospective adoptive parents travelling to countries of origin

Prospective adoptive parents may travel to countries of origin as part of an adoption process or for reasons unrelated to adoption.

The appropriate time for prospective adoptive parents to travel as part of the adoption process varies between country programs. Prospective adoptive parents’ state or territory central authority will advise when this type of travel is required, dates for travel and for how long, as well as whether pre-placement contact is appropriate during the travel period.

Prospective adoptive parents travelling for reasons unrelated to the adoption process (for example, to gain a greater understanding of a country from which they seek to adopt) must not have any contact with individuals or organisations that have care of children who may be placed with an Australian family for intercountry adoption. This is particularly important for prospective adoptive parents travelling to a country in which they have a current adoption application.

Traveling during COVID-19

There is a ban on travel to other countries from Australia. If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you cannot leave Australia unless you get an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs to travel, or if you’re travelling to a destination that is exempt from the ban.

The Australian Government’s global travel advice remains ‘Do Not Travel' due to the health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic and significant disruptions to global travel. Please note that some destinations were set at ‘Do Not Travel’ prior to COVID-19 due to extreme risk to safety. These travel alerts may remain in place.

If you have travelled to another country for pre-placement contact and now find it difficult to return to Australia, the Smartraveller website has a section dedicated to ‘trying to get home’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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