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Adoption videos

This series of videos has been developed to provide information about the realities, challenges and process of adoption for couples who are considering adoption.

The videos were developed prior to 2 November 2016 when the Queensland Parliament passed amendments to the Adoption Act 2009. As a result, these videos do not reflect the key legislative changes, which included expanding eligibility criteria to enable same-sex couples, single persons, and persons undergoing fertility treatment to have their name entered or remain in the Expression of Interest register.

Video 1 – Local adoption: Kate and Bill’s story

Kate and Bill are adoptive parents of a child in Queensland. Hear their story about their experience of adopting a child through the Queensland adoption program.

Transcript for adoption video 1: Local adoption: Bill and Kate’s story

Belinda: Embarking on an adoption journey is a significant decision. It takes time, dedication and understanding; it can be highly emotional and sometimes complex. In Queensland adoption is defined as a service for children and it’s the role of the department to find families to meet the needs of the children who are unable to grow up with their birth families. This series of videos aims to help Queensland couples, who are considering adoption to understand the realities of the process and decide whether it’s right for them.

Kate and Bill adopted a child in Queensland, this is their story.

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Kate: We found out with that, that I would be unable to have children. We pretty much straight from that started researching and finding out about, how to adopt and finding out that information. When we first started looking into adoption, I guess the needs of the child we were really unsure about we would consider ourselves a bit green, not really understanding what the needs would be.

Bill: I think once you start reading about it you start to go oh yes, there’s a lot more to this than you would expect.

Kate: That I was terrified that, we wouldn’t be able to meet the needs in the sense that if they had questions when they were growing up would we be prepared enough to answer those questions.

Bill: I always thought that we could, you know, accommodate any questions that they might have.

Kate: We’ve learnt that we are a very strong couple, we work very well together, I think you need to be able to communicate clearly and understand what’s going on in the process.

Bill: Yeah, it’s important to support one another through the process. And I think that’s what we’ve learnt to do, is support one another.

Kate: The, it’s just one of those things you just need to go with the flow, and learning to let that go is the hardest thing.

Bill: That’s been the hardest part for you.

Kate: Yes, cause I would be asking you the same question over and over and over.

Bill [at the same time]: Over and over and over.

Kate: I remember calling through to the department and asking for advice as to what we can do to prepare ourselves and I remember them stating that the best thing we could do is start reading and learning as much as we could so I just got into this bandwagon of reading everything that I could get my hands on about adoption to understand what was going on. The other thing that was really helpful was the education that we went to.

Bill: Yeah

Kate: We were able to really go there as a couple and see that we were both on board. I think it’s important as a couple that you might be the main person going yep we need to adopt, but you both need to be on the same page so that was really important and we got a lot of good information out of it and also got to meet other couples in the same situation which really helped because sometimes you can feel with adoption that its quite isolating. And for us that was really important to connect and also meet parents that were successful in adoption was also very valuable.

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The other thing I found really valuable is talking to support groups as well, so understanding what they were going on, what the key issues were, also I would connect with the department as well and ask what we should be reading as well so that we could get some guidance from them because sometimes you, you know, things are changing in the environment so that you need to understand and get up to date.

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It is really important to connect with people when you are going through the adoption process, it’s great to have family and friends support you and we have an amazing support network.

Bill: Yeah

Kate: But when you’re in that process they still don’t quite understand what the emotions are and what it’s like.

Bill: Cause they’re not reading about it like we are as well.

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Kate: When we were at education, we met a couple there, they were moving through the process at the same stage as us and it was really good because when you have the department come into your home, you feel like you’ve got to clean the inside of your letterbox.

They also had the same stresses and they were also experiencing the same emotions that we were and…

Bill: And their letterbox was really clean as well.

Kate: [laughs]

Kate: We would describe our experience with adoption through, I guess, it’s you know, the process was over a few of years, bashing yourself up, it’s you know, so it is a roller coaster of emotions and you do have your highs where you get accepted and then you know, then you go and you’re on, and you are waiting and will you ever get the call and it’s just that unknown is really hard. So there’s so many ups and downs with the process and dealing with all the emotions of that. And also dealing with the emotions of, you know, my parents, you know, will they be grandparents, so you, you, it’s just, it’s massive and until you’re in that you can’t explain.

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Kate: The challenges for us in the process was the uncertainty. It’s really difficult to not have a timeframe on anything, and to let go of that time, in a world where you can get anything you want whenever you want and for this to not be the case is really hard.

We managed the uncertainty through the process by keeping ourselves busy all the time and it’s just not to push the time through, it’s getting on with your life, and even though you’ve got adoption playing in the background doesn’t mean that you need to stop everything, you need to keep growing as a couple and doing what you would normally do.

I was so excited when we got the call to go through the assessment process because it felt like we were moving forward through adoptions, so I was so excited to have someone in our home and asking us questions so for me it wasn’t a fear at all it felt.

Bill: Yeah it felt good, it finally wasn’t a piece of paper it was a person.

Kate [at the same time]: It felt really good.

Kate: For us the assessment process was really, not liberating but it was good, it was really positive.

Bill: It was positive; it felt like we were moving forward and making, making progress.

Kate: It’s really a relaxed conversation and even the one on ones were fine as well because you can’t control everything so you’ve just got to answer the questions honestly because you’re talking about a child, so it’s not going just for a job, your, it’s a child’s life.

Belinda: In Queensland, a small number of children are adopted each year, if you feel you have the right qualities, can provide a loving home for a child and want to make a real difference to a child’s life, please go to the departments website for further information about taking the next step.

Video 2 – Open adoption

Open adoption allows a child, the adoptive parents and the birth parents to share information about one another and the circumstances of the adoption. This story is based on actual families’ experiences.

Transcript for adoption video 2: Open adoption

Belinda: Many people consider adoptive parenting to be the same as biological parenting, and in many respects, it is. However, there are some differences. The most significant difference is that there are three parties involved in adoption – the child, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents who may have some form of ongoing contact through an open adoption arrangement. Open adoption allows a child, their adoptive parents and birth parents to share information about one another and the circumstances of the adoption. In some instances, it will also involve contact with one another. Open adoption is beneficial to a child’s wellbeing and best interests, and helps them build a positive self-image. Actors have been used in this video to protect the privacy of the birth parents and the adopted children; however the story is based on actual families’ experiences.

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Tracey: When Jon and I were considering adoption, we didn’t understand what an open adoption arrangement was. That made us hesitant at first. But the department helped us understand what having Arron’s birth mother involved would actually mean to us as a family. It’s natural for adoptive children to become curious about their birth parents. For Arron, it’s been a huge benefit as she has knowledge about his birth family and his past before the adoption. It means if he ever has a question, one of us will be able to answer it.

Jon: Tracey and I were really grateful for the support the department gave us. They coordinated the logistics of the initial meeting with Arron’s birth mother and assisted us through the entire process. We had previously established contact through the Adoption mailbox service, which allows adoptive parents, birth parents, and children to send letters, cards, drawings, and small gifts to one another without identifying details being revealed.

Tracey: We were still nervous, but being able to build up to the face-to-face meeting this way definitely reduced our stress and uncertainty.

Jon: We had already decided we were going to send news of important milestones — birthdays, school awards, that sort of thing — to our son’s birth mother, so we felt that this was the next natural step. Everybody had a lot of questions and we spent quite a bit of time preparing for the change in our family dynamic. There have definitely been challenges. We were aware of, and sensitive to the birth mother’s feelings and her personal circumstances. I guess it’s really about managing expectations and realities. The department’s support has been invaluable. They helped coordinate the initial meeting and provided opportunities for debriefing, which really helped us process what we were feeling. We cannot imagine not having her in our lives now.

Tracey: The only advice we would have for potential adoptive parents is to make sure that you are psychologically ready for the experience, its challenges and difficulties.

Jon: We are arranging for him to now meet his birth brother, which Arron is very excited about. This is something that would have been much harder without his birth mother being involved. Although Arron may never meet his birth father, his birth mother is able to tell him that she loves him and explain the reasons for her decisions.

Tracey: We want to give Arron the best life we can and we believe that having his birth mother involved in his life is part of achieving that. Based on our experience, we would choose open adoption again.

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Belinda: In Queensland, there are a small number of children adopted each year. If you feel you are patient, flexible and energetic and could provide a loving home for a child and want to make a real difference in a child’s life, please go to the department’s website for further information about taking the next step.

Video 3 – Intercountry adoption: Dylan and Gillian’s story

Dylan and Gillian are adoptive parents of siblings through the intercountry adoption program. Hear their story and advice for couples considering adopting a child from overseas.

Transcript for adoption video 3: Intercountry adoption — Dylan and Gillian’s story

Belinda: Intercountry adoption occurs when an adopted family can’t be found for a child in their country of origin. Instead a permanent legal family is provided for them in Queensland. Overseas adoption authorities determine which adopted families can best meet the placement needs of children, and work with the Department to make the arrangements. Children from overseas can have a range of medical needs such as low birth weight, prematurity, malnutrition, or physical disabilities. They can also have complex social or family backgrounds such as witnessing family violence, being abandoned, or living in institutionalised care for a period of time. It’s important to find the right family’s for them. Intercountry adoption can be complex, but it can also be rewarding.

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Gillian: The steps we went through, first of all we put in an Expression of Interest, into the department, an then we were asked to attend some Education Sessions; and we linked up with a few couples in that Education Session that we are still in contact with, which was really lovely. After that we started assessment which included visits from a Contract Worker, and then after that our file was prepared, for Taiwan, and that was very exciting cause when our file went overseas we felt we had really reached a hurdle in the process. After that it was really in the hands of the country that we sent our file to, and so, the wait was a little tricky cause we were waiting for an allocation and we just didn’t know how long that would take. We prepared for intercountry adoption by doing a lot of research, we did a lot of reading, there is some really good books out there on adoption in general and intercountry adoption, and I think that’s probably the main place we found a lot of our information from. We also joined our local support group for our country, and that was invaluable because the people there were very generous with their advice and experiences and we learnt a lot from them as well I think.

Dylan: The first time we went to that group we felt a little bit awkward because obviously a lot of the people in the group already had adopted children and we didn’t, but literally within ten minutes, you know we felt welcomed into that group, and I think people are only too happy to help others go through the process.

Gillian: And also we started to really immerse ourselves in Taiwanese culture because we knew that that would be a really important part of our life, from the time we got our child.

Dylan: Another thing that we did which we found helpful was to attend some of the broader adoption community events, so there’s an International Adoption Day that we used to go to, and we still do with our children.  But that was very helpful and a bit inspirational I guess in terms of seeing these amazing families that have been through the process already and part of our preparation.

Gillian: The challenges at the time of adoption really were our children. They’d been taken from an environment that they were familiar with and all of a sudden placed in a brand new family, so they had a lot to get used to.

Dylan: For us one of the other challenges was when we were picking up our children. We were in a strange land, I guess when you couple that with a young child going into a new family there are challenges associated with that. I think it’s good to have that bonding with the child when you are in that country.

Gillian: The department was really helpful in supporting us, first of all through the Education Sessions. We found out a lot about the requirements for the different countries at that session. We also found out a lot of the challenges that can come with being an adoptive parent, so that was really a good start in our journey. Our Caseworker who came and visited us a few times in assessment also helped us really think about a few things that we probably hadn’t considered, so some of it was a little bit difficult to think through, but always beneficial and always about helping the child we may end up with.

Dylan: And there were times also when we would need to get on the phone and ask for some advice or just get reassurance that things were happening, and that was all good from our perspective.

Gillian: Our advice for people who are thinking of pursuing intercountry adoption would be to keep going in the process when it gets a little tough. We found it a little bit hard after the very first day of Education Sessions. We actually came home and didn’t know whether we wanted to go back. But second day was a lot easier, and you know there are times in the process where it does get really difficult, but to just keep going when it seems hard.

Gillian: Some of the medical conditions that overseas children may have are physical disabilities or physical needs. They could be premature birth or kidney abnormalities, heart conditions, or they could be cognitive delays. They could also have parents who are struggling with a drug addiction or alcohol addiction.

Dylan: Some of the children who are internationally adopted have quite complex family backgrounds. For example, they might have a birth parent who‘s imprisoned or has a mental disability, there may be problems with domestic abuse in the family. But probably the more common type of outcome that we see is where there’s one of the birth, is no knowledge of them, or in some case no knowledge of either of the parents which means there is a bit of a gap in terms of family medical history. That’s something that is important to know about so that we can understand that as part of our child’s family background.

Gillian: With our children some of the information was missing and some of it was quite difficult to read, but we see ourselves as the caretakers of that information for our children because it’s part of their story.

Dylan: For our children the connection with their culture is very, very important. We’ve always maintained that as part of their upbringing. It’s an important part of who they are. We’ve also decided to keep their Taiwanese names, as their first names, and that’s an important part of I guess their identity as Taiwanese people even though they’re part of an Australian family. As our children get older we really do want to maintain and develop their cultural connection. We’ve got plans to immerse the children with travel and trying to get back to their home country as often as we can, so that as they grow up there’s that continual connection with Taiwan. I think from our perspective we want that to be a really important part of their life so they don’t get to the age where they feel like they don’t know anything about their home country, that it’s just an integral part of their upbringing.

Gillian: A privilege actually, to be involved in these children’s lives, they’re such a blessing.

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Belinda: There has been a decline in intercountry adoption due to many economic and social changes that allow children to remain with their birth families or be adopted in their country of origin. However, there are still children that are older or have complex social or medical backgrounds that require adoptive placements. If you feel you have the right qualities, can provide a loving home for a child, and want to make a real difference in a child’s life, please go to the department’s website for further information about taking the next step.

Video 4 – The realities of adoption

Adopting a child is a rewarding and positive experience, but the journey can be long, complex and emotionally challenging.

Transcript for adoption video 4: The realities of adoption

Belinda: Adopting a child is an immensely rewarding and positive experience, but the journey can be long, complex and emotionally challenging. Sometimes, a couple’s expectation of adoption is different to the realities. In this video, we talk about the needs of children and the adoption process to help you better understand and make informed decisions about whether adoption is something you wish to consider further.

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Voice over (by Belinda): Adoption is a service for children. In Queensland, adoption is facilitated through the department, and our role is to find families for children who are unable to live with their birth families. Our system is child-focused. We must ensure that the placement will promote the wellbeing and best interest of the adopted child throughout their life. There are different types of adoption. Queensland adoption is the adoption of a child in Queensland. Intercountry adoption is the adoption of a child born overseas. Unfortunately there are no certainties in the adoption process, and the reality is some couples who start the process will not be placed with a child. The placement of a child is dependent upon the number of children requiring an adoptive family and the characteristics of couples which best meet the needs of each child. This means that there can be lengthy waiting periods and a degree of uncertainty. For intercountry adoption, the overseas adoption authorities can specify the number of files they are willing to accept from each country they are engaged with. This means a limited number of files being sent to that country’s adoption agency. Unfortunately, it is not possible to give timeframes or  guarantee about when a couple might be placed with a child, as each couple considering adoption has very different and unique experiences which must be matched to the needs of  the children needing adoptive families. It is important to understand the process and the realities of adoption before beginning the journey. We strongly encourage you to talk about any concerns you may have with us, with each other as a couple, and to consider joining an adoption support group in your community.

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Voice over (by Belinda): The number of children who are adopted each year has been steadily declining in all Australian jurisdictions over the last 30 years. Although the trend is for fewer families each year, there are still children requiring adoptive placements. A number of children adopted from Queensland have special support needs, such as being of an older age, having a disability or complex social background. As with Queensland adoptions, the number of intercountry adoptions also fluctuates. While there is a need overseas to find adoptive families for their children, the need is increasing for people motivated and capable to care for children with complex support needs and characteristics. It is important that you make the right decision for your individual circumstances and capabilities. Deciding whether to submit an expression of interest is a personal commitment that may change other decisions you make for your family, including whether to continue fertility treatment.

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Belinda: In Queensland, a small number of children are adopted each year. If you feel you are patient, flexible and energetic, and could provide a loving home for a child, and want to make a real difference to a child’s life, please go to the department’s website for further information about taking the next step.

Video 5 – Requirements for intercountry adoption

If you are considering adopting a child from overseas, you will need to meet eligibility criteria of the overseas country, as well as meeting eligibility criteria in Queensland.

Transcript for adoption video 5: Requirements for intercountry adoption

Belinda: Adopting a child is an immensely rewarding and positive experience, but the journey can be long, complex and emotionally challenging. Sometimes, a couple’s expectation of adoption is different to the realities. In this video, we talk about the needs of the children and the adoption process to help you better understand and make informed decisions about whether adoption is something you wish to consider further.

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Voice over (by Belinda): From time to time, there is media coverage of the millions of orphans worldwide who need care, protection and support. Although there are many children in orphanages in poorer countries, it is a common misconception that these children are in need of intercountry adoption. In some cases, a child may be placed temporarily in an orphanage because their parents are unable to care for them. In other cases, the overseas adoption authorities may not consider intercountry adoption as an appropriate alternative for the child. Arrangements for overseas adoption in Australia occur under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. It is the overseas country’s responsibility to choose the best possible adoptive families for their children. If you are considering overseas adoption, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria of that country, in addition to meeting eligibility criteria within Australia. For example, eligibility may focus on language, cultural characteristics, or religious beliefs. You will also need to be willing to meet the needs of children requiring adoption through that program. In recent years, the needs of children requiring intercountry adoption have changed. The majority of children are older or have more complex medical needs and complex social backgrounds, rather than young healthy babies. Complex emotional and behavioural issues associated with attachment problems can conflict with your expectations of having a child who responds positively to love and affection. Australia’s immigration policy requires each child migrating to Australia to undergo a health examination, and there are a number of medical issues that the Department of Immigration may not permit into Australia. Once a child has been placed, overseas countries require ongoing reports on the wellbeing and progress of a child, and sometimes this extends past the 12-month supervision period of the department.

Belinda: In Queensland, a small number of children are adopted each year. If you feel you are patient, flexible and energetic, and could provide a loving home for a child, and want to make a real difference to a child’s life, please go to the department’s website for further information about taking the next step.

Video 6 – Lifelong implications of adoption

Open adoption is about the child gaining an understanding of their identity. For Queensland adoption, birth parents and adoptive parents are encouraged to negotiate an adoption plan for the type of open adoption arrangement they are comfortable with.

Transcript for adoption video 6: Lifelong implications of adoption

Belinda: Adopting a child is an immensely rewarding and positive experience, but the journey can be long, complex and emotionally challenging. Sometimes, a couple’s expectation of adoption is different to the realities. In this video, we talk about the needs of children, and the adoption process, to help you better understand and make informed decisions about whether adoption is something you wish to consider further.

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Voice over (by Belinda): Adoption establishes a permanent relationship between a child and their adoptive parents. Adoption also removes the legal relationship between the child and their birth parents and extended family. Children who are adopted have their birth certificates changed to reflect their new identity. Adoption affects inheritance rights for a child, in that they are no longer entitled to inheritance from their birth family unless specifically listed in a birth family’s will. Open adoption allows the child, the adoptive parents and birth parents to know each other and the circumstances for the adoption, exchange identifying information and have contact with each other to the extent that all parties agree. As adoptive parents are the parents of the child, open adoption is about a child gaining an understanding of their identity. It is not about co-parenting. Children in open adoption tend to have a better understanding of their adoption, display greater curiosity, and as adolescents, are more satisfied with the degree of contact. Most adoptive parents are also comfortable with the arrangement, have positive relationships with their child’s birth parents and communicate more openly with their child about adoption. The department assists parties to an adoption to exchange non-identifying and identifying information and to have personal contact with one another, to the extent that all parties agree. Birth parents and adoptive parents are encouraged to negotiate an adoption plan outlining their views and wishes. Queensland adoption laws and policies include safeguards to protect the interests of all the parties, in particular, those of the adopted child, in this process.

Belinda: In Queensland, a small number of children are adopted each year. If you feel you are patient, flexible and energetic, and could provide a loving home for a child, and want to make a real difference to a child’s life, please go to the department’s website for further information about taking the next step.

Video 7 — Understanding the adoption process

The adoption process is extremely rigorous. For couples who are considering adoption, there are seven steps in the adoption process before a final Adoption Order is granted.

Transcript for adoption video 7: Understanding the adoption process

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Voice over: The adoption process is extremely rigorous. There are no other ways of by-passing the system of being assessed and approved by the relevant government department. There are a number of steps in the adoption process before a final adoption order is granted.

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Voice over: To make an expression of interest, you must first complete an Expression of Interest form, which is available from the department’s website. Information contained in the Expression of Interest form will be used by the department to decide if you are eligible to have your names entered in the Expression of Interest Register. The Expression of Interest Register contains the names of couples who are eligible to be selected for assessment. Couples are selected for assessment based on the anticipated needs of children who will require adoptive placements. For example, there is generally a need to select couples who are willing to participate in open adoption; or willing to parent children whose birth father history is unknown or whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy or an older child. Your Expression of Interest expires if you are not selected for assessment within two years of your names being entered in the Expression of Interest Register. If your Expression of Interest expires, you may lodge another Expression of Interest.

[Pause]

Voice over: Each year, the department selects couples from the Expression of Interest Register to be assessed to be adoptive parents. As the selection process is child-focused, the department cannot give couples any certainty about if, or when, they may be selected for assessment. If you are selected for assessment for an intercountry adoption, you will need to pay additional costs associated with the overseas adoption authority’s process, such as translation costs, travel etc. It is important for couples to be aware that each intercountry program has different fees and travel requirements which are subject to change. The assessment process involves a number of stages such as health checks, criminal history and child protection checks, domestic violence history, traffic history, referee checks and a minimum of four to five interviews in the couple’s home. When the assessment is completed, a recommendation is made by the department regarding whether a couple is suitable to be an adoptive parent.

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Voice over: If you are assessed and found suitable to be adoptive parents, your names are entered in the Suitable Adoptive Parents Register. For couples who have been entered into the Suitable Adoptive Parents Register and expressed interest in intercountry adoption, the department provides your file to the relevant overseas adoption authority, when the overseas authority allows for it to be sent.

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Voice over: For Queensland adoption, the department decides which couple from the Suitable Adoptive Parents Register best meets the child’s needs and interests. In the case of intercountry adoption, your file is provided to the overseas adoption authority to make the final placement decision regarding their children. When a placement decision is made, you will be provided with all available de-identified information about the child to help you decide whether to accept the placement.

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Voice over: For Queensland adoptions, the placement proposal includes information about the child’s needs to support your decision about the child’s placement with you. If you accept the placement, you will become the child’s prospective adoptive parents under an interim adoption order. A child must be in your custody for at least 12 months before a final adoption order is made. For intercountry adoption, you will be notified by the department when the overseas adoption authority makes a placement proposal. You will be provided with all available de-identified information about the child to support your decision about accepting the placement proposal.

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Voice over: An adoption plan is an agreement between the birth parents and prospective adoptive parents that supports the child’s wellbeing and interests. It is not legally enforceable and does not alter the adoptive parent’s role as the child’s legal parents. The plans are usually only considered for Queensland adoptions.

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Voice over: After a final adoption order is made by the Childrens Court, you become the child’s only legal parents. For intercountry adoptions, the majority of orders are made in the overseas country. However, some countries require the making of the final adoption order in Queensland. For both the Queensland and Intercountry programs, you will be supervised for a minimum period of 12 months to assess whether the wellbeing and interests of the child are met. If you feel you have right qualities, can provide a loving home for a child and want to make a real difference to a child’s life, please go to the department’s website for further information about taking the next step.