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Adopting a child from overseas

Intercountry adoption provides permanent legal families in Queensland for children from overseas when an appropriate adoptive family cannot be found in the country of origin. Intercountry adoption practices in Queensland comply with the Adoption Act 2009 and the principles of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption. This is to ensure the best interests of the child are met.

The Queensland and Intercountry Adoption Handbook provides information for person/s interested in being assessed as suitable adoptive parent/s for a child from overseas.

Management of intercountry adoption programs

The Australian Attorney General's Intercountry Adoption Branch is responsible for establishing new, and managing existing, intercountry adoption programs with overseas governments. The department provides updated information about country programs to states and territories in Australia.

If you are considering adopting a child from another country the Australian Attorney-General’s Department encourages you to familiarise yourself with the nature of the Australian intercountry adoption system.

Children from overseas requiring placement

Children requiring adoptive placements from overseas are generally aged between 6 months and 6 years of age. Overseas adoption authorities determine which adoptive families can best meet the placement needs of children requiring an adoptive family.

The children may have a range of medical needs and complex family and social backgrounds. The medical needs of children have included:

  • malnutrition
  • Hepatitis C
  • minor and/or correctable physical disabilities
  • a history of mental illness in the family.

The child may also come from a complex family and social background relating to their birth parent and family health history, their cultural background, their birth parent’s social position and circumstances of the child’s conception. The child may also have lived in institutionalised care for some time and may have been abandoned.

Eligibility requirements of each intercountry adoption program are available on the Intercountry Adoption Australia website.

Queensland eligibility requirements to express interest

Person/s are eligible to express interest if:

  • they are adults who live in Queensland
  • they are, or if a couple at least one of them is, an Australian citizen
  • the female person is not pregnant
  • they are not an intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement within the meaning of the Surrogacy Act 2010, or they have been an intended parent for a surrogacy arrangement within the meaning of the Surrogacy Act 2010 and the surrogacy arrangement ended at least six months earlier
  • they don’t have custody of a child under 1 year of age (does not include children for whom the person is an approved carer)
  • they don’t have a child who has been in their custody for less than 1 year.

Overseas country eligibility requirements

Only person/s who meet Queensland eligibility criteria (listed above and in the Queensland Adoption Act 2009) can express an interest in being assessed to be adoptive parent/s for a child from an overseas country.

However, to be assessed, person/s who meet the Queensland eligibility requirements must also meet eligibility requirements specified by the relevant overseas country that Australia has negotiated an adoption agreement with.

Eligibility criteria of overseas countries may be more restrictive than criteria in Queensland legislation.

How to express interest

Person/s interested in having their suitability to be adoptive parents assessed must complete the Adoption Expression of Interest (PDF, 259 KB) form and forward it to Adoption Services.

The guideline to Completing an adoption Expression of Interest form (PDF, 357KB) or (RTF, 119KB) has been developed to assist person/s to complete this form.

After an expression of interest is lodged

  1. The person/s are notified if they meet eligibility requirements.
  2. If eligible, the person/s' names are entered into the expression of interest register.
  3. If selected from the expression of interest register (to have their suitability assessed), the person/s will be sent a notice of selection for assessment.
  4. If the person/s don't receive a notice of selection for assessment within 2 years, their expression of interest expires. Person/s may then lodge another expression of interest if they wish.

The number of person/s to be selected for assessment from the expression of interest register varies each year. This is due to the number of assessments being based on the anticipated needs of children likely to require adoptive placements.

About the assessment

When person/s receive a notice of selection for assessment, they are assessed to see if they are suitable to parent an adopted child. Partners must also be found suitable as individuals (if applicable).

Assessment is a comprehensive process that involves information being gathered and analysed from a number of sources. Required information for the assessment may include:

  • criminal, traffic, domestic violence and child protection history checks
  • home visits for assessment interviews
  • talking with you, your partner, children and other adult household members and nominated referees if required 
  • getting information about your health.

More information