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Intercountry Adoption

Intercountry Adoption Australia only facilitates intercountry adoptions that are compliant with the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect to Intercountry Adoption. This means Australian state and territory central authorities with responsibility for intercountry adoption need to assess and approve all applications and proposals, before a child can be legally adopted to Australia.

The Hague Convention

In Australia, intercountry adoption is conducted under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Hague Convention). The convention aims to ensure that intercountry adoption only occurs when in the best interests of the child.

A guiding principle of the convention is that, whenever possible, a child should be raised by his or her birth family or extended family. If this is not possible, other forms of permanent family care in the child’s country of birth should be considered. Only after local solutions have been exhausted, should intercountry adoption be considered – and then only if it is in the child’s best interests. The convention also focuses on the need for countries to work together to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children.

The Hague Convention reinforces the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 21) and seeks to ensure that intercountry adoptions are only conducted when in the best interest of the child and with respect of their fundamental rights.

Australia only facilitates intercountry adoptions if the principles and standards of the Hague Convention are met in practice, regardless of whether the country has signed the Convention. Currently, Australians can apply to their state or territory central authority to adopt from our partner countries.

The Hague Convention came into force in Australia in December 1998 and is implemented by the Family Law Act 1975 and its regulations. Each state and territory in Australia also has laws relating to intercountry adoption, which are similar, but not identical.

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