The department has primary responsibility for the management and establishment of Australia's intercountry adoption programmes.
The department maintains programmes with countries that are party to the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption. We also have bilateral arrangements with some countries which are not party to the Hague Convention.
Australia currently has open programmes with the following countries:
- Hong Kong
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
For information on Australia's open intercountry adoption programmes, including eligibility criteria and post-adoption support, visit the Intercountry Adoption Australia website.
New country programmes
The Australian Government opened two new intercountry adoption programmes with Poland and Latvia on 9 November 2015.
Consideration of other country programmes
The Australian Government is prioritising investigations into the viability of establishing a new intercountry adoption programme with Vietnam. Discussions with Bulgaria are also progressing.
Intercountry adoption from Kenya is not currently possible due to a ban imposed by the Kenyan Government.
Intercountry adoption from Cambodia is not currently possible as full implementation of Cambodian domestic and intercountry adoption laws is still underway.
The department continues to monitor Cambodia's progress on implementation of an intercountry adoption framework and practical compliance with Hague Convention standards and principles.
On hold, inactive and closed programmes
Australia's programmes with Bolivia, Fiji and India are currently on hold. The programme with Ethiopia closed on 28 June 2012. Australia’s programme with Lithuania is inactive due to Lithuania’s requirements.
This programme is not accepting any applications. The programme existed between New South Wales and Bolivia. Residents of other states and territories were not eligible to apply. The agreement with Bolivia expired in January 2011. The Bolivian Government is reviewing intercountry adoption arrangements within Bolivia. In April 2015, an Australian delegation visited Bolivia to discuss intercountry adoption.
Australian couples cannot currently apply to adopt a child from Fiji.
Fiji acceded to the Hague Convention in April 2012. It entered into force in August 2012. Fiji put the hold in place to give it time to change its legislation to implement the Convention and put in place a framework for intercountry adoption. The central authority in Fiji is the Department of Social Welfare (DSW).
In May 2013, the department was advised by DSW that Fiji is in the process of amending its domestic adoption laws to put in place a framework for intercountry adoption consistent with the Hague Convention.
Australia currently has a hold on sending new applications to India. This was introduced in October 2010.
The implementation of a new adoption system in India (introduced in 2011) under the Guidelines Governing the Adoption of Children 2011 is ongoing. India is currently only accepting new intercountry adoption applications for children with special needs and from a limited number of overseas Indian applicants. Australia continues to monitor the implementation of India's new intercountry adoption system.
From March 2014, CARA announced its hold would be partially lifted for a limited number of Non-Resident Indian (NRI) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) applicants. No new Australian intercountry adoption applications, including from NRIs and OCIs applicants, can be sent to India at this time.
In January 2016, Lithuania’s Ministry of Social Security and Labour confirmed that Lithuanian adoption pathways are unavailable to Australian prospective adoptive parents. This means that the Lithuania programme is inactive.
There are two pathways for prospective adoptive parents living outside Lithuania to adopt Lithuanian children:
- Lithuanian citizens who are resident overseas may apply to adopt children without special needs.
- Non-Lithuanian citizens may apply to adopt children with special needs.
Pathway 1 is currently unavailable as there are sufficient care options within Lithuania to meet the needs of these children.
Pathway 2 is also unavailable as Lithuania requires that Australia work through a body accredited by Lithuania, and no such body is authorised to work with Australia. Lithuania is not accepting new applications by overseas countries seeking to work with a body accredited by Lithuania.
Australia's intercountry adoption programme with Ethiopia closed on 28 June 2012. It was consistently Australia's most complex and challenging programme.
The following document contains more information on the closure:
The following document provides information about the post-adoption reporting process for Ethiopia, Ethiopian adoption files and post-adoption support services: