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how to adopt a child in Australia
18 Dec 2023

A Comprehensive Guide to Adoption in Australia: Process, Requirements, and Legal Steps

By Family Lawyers Mackay, 18 Dec 2023
Family Law

Adopting a child is a transformative journey that involves not only personal and emotional commitment but also adherence to a well-regulated legal process. In Australia, the adoption system is designed to prioritize the best interests of the child, ensuring a stable and loving environment for their upbringing. This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth exploration of the legal aspects, requirements, and steps involved in adopting a child in Australia.

What is Adoption?

Adoption is a legal process that establishes a permanent, legal parent-child relationship between individuals who are not biologically related. This process grants adoptive parents the same rights and responsibilities as biological parents, creating a family bound by law and love.

Adopting a Child: Not for Everyone

While the prospect of adoption can bring immense joy and fulfilment, it’s essential to recognize that it may not be the right path for everyone. Prospective adoptive parents should carefully evaluate their emotional readiness, financial stability, and commitment before embarking on this life-changing journey.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Different Types of Adoption

1. Intercountry Adoption:

    • Involves adopting a child from another country, navigating both Australian and the sending country’s adoption laws.
    • Emphasizes cultural sensitivity and understanding.

2. Permanent Care:

    • Also known as foster care adoption.
    • Involves adopting a child who, due to various circumstances, cannot return to their biological family.
    • Highlights the importance of providing stability and support to children with complex backgrounds.

3. Step-Parent Adoption:

    • Permits a step-parent to legally adopt their partner’s child.
    • Requires the consent of the non-custodial biological parent, or legal proceedings may be initiated to address the discrepancy.

Who Can Adopt?

Several factors determine eligibility for adoption in Australia:

 1. Age of Adoptive Parents:

    • Typically, individuals over the age of 21 can adopt.
    • There is no upper age limit, but health and the capacity to parent are considered.

2. Residence of Adoptive Parents:

    • Prospective adoptive parents must be Australian citizens or permanent residents.

3. Marital Status and Family Status:

    • Both single and married individuals can adopt.
    • Stability and a supportive family environment are emphasized.

4. Aboriginal People and Adoption:

    • Special considerations for preserving cultural connections.
    • Efforts to place Indigenous children within their community to maintain cultural identity.

Parental Agreement Discrepancy

In situations where one parent is eager to adopt and the other is not, seeking legal advice becomes crucial. Mediation or legal intervention may be necessary to address conflicting opinions and safeguard the child’s best interests.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Adoption by Same-Sex Parents

Australia recognizes the right of same-sex couples to adopt. The eligibility criteria are the same as for heterosexual couples, emphasizing the importance of providing a loving and stable home environment regardless of the parent’s gender.

The Adoption Process in Australia

 1. Initial Steps and Forms:

    • Submission of an expression of interest to the relevant state or territory authority.
    • Completion of preliminary forms, and initiating the adoption process.

2. Adoption Preparation Seminar:

    • Attendance at an informative seminar to gain insights into the adoption process.
    • Opportunities for prospective parents to connect with support networks.

3. Formal Application for Adoption:

    • Submission of a comprehensive formal application, including detailed background information.
    • This stage marks the beginning of a more in-depth evaluation process.

4. Screening of Your Application:

    • Initial assessment to ensure compliance with basic eligibility criteria.
    • May involve interviews and additional documentation.

5. The Assessment Process:

    • In-depth evaluation, including home visits and interviews with prospective parents.
    • Focus on emotional, financial, and physical preparedness for adoption.

6. Determining Suitability:

    • Comprehensive assessment to determine the prospective parents’ suitability to provide a loving and stable environment for the adopted child.
    • Consideration of factors such as support systems, parenting skills, and overall readiness.

Cost of Adoption in Australia

Adoption costs can vary but are generally subsidized to make the process accessible. Fees may cover legal expenses, administrative costs, and counseling services. Financial assistance may be available for eligible adoptive parents.

Duration of the Adoption Process

The length of the adoption process varies but can take several months to years. Factors influencing the timeline include the type of adoption, the availability of suitable matches, and the completion of necessary assessments. Patience and understanding are crucial during this period.

Legal Advice at Family Lawyers Mackay

Navigating the legal intricacies of adoption can be challenging. Seeking legal advice from professionals, such as Family Lawyers Mackay, can provide invaluable support in understanding the legal implications, ensuring compliance, and safeguarding the rights of all parties involved. These legal experts can guide prospective parents through the process, addressing any legal challenges that may arise.


Adopting a child in Australia is a carefully regulated process designed to prioritize the welfare of the child. Prospective adoptive parents should approach the journey with dedication, patience, and a commitment to providing a loving and stable home. Seeking legal advice and understanding the comprehensive adoption process are crucial steps in ensuring a successful and fulfilling adoption experience. With the right information and support, individuals can embark on this transformative journey with confidence and enthusiasm.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: How much does it cost to adopt a child in Australia?

A1: Adoption costs can vary depending on the agency or state/territory department involved. Fees may cover assessments, legal processes, counselling, and other services. In some cases, government subsidies or financial assistance may be available. Prospective adoptive parents should inquire with adoption agencies or relevant authorities for specific cost details.

Q2: Can a single woman adopt a child in Australia?

A2: Yes, in Australia, single individuals, including single women, are generally eligible to adopt. The focus is on the ability of the individual to provide a stable and supportive environment for the child. The adoption process assesses an individual’s suitability based on factors such as financial stability, health, and emotional well-being.

Q3: Is it hard to adopt a child in Australia?

A3: Adoption processes can be thorough and involve assessments of the prospective adoptive parents’ suitability. The difficulty may vary based on factors such as the type of adoption (domestic or intercountry) and individual circumstances. Adoption agencies or state/territory departments can provide information on specific requirements and procedures.

Q4: How do I adopt a foreign child in Australia?

A4: Intercountry adoption in Australia involves complying with both Australian regulations and the requirements of the child’s home country. Prospective adoptive parents must go through a process that includes assessments, paperwork, and possibly travel to the child’s home country. The Australian Government’s Department of Social Services and relevant state/territory authorities guide intercountry adoption.

Q5: What if one parent wants to adopt, and one doesn’t?

A5: Both prospective adoptive parents must generally agree to the adoption process. If one parent is unwilling to adopt, it may create challenges in the adoption process. Communication and counselling may be beneficial to address concerns and reach a mutual decision. It’s crucial to discuss these matters thoroughly before initiating the adoption process.

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