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Adoption is one of a range of options used to provide permanent care for children who are unable to live with their families. It is a legal process where rights and responsibilities are transferred from a child’s parents to their adoptive parent(s). The adopted child assumes the same legal rights, privileges and social status as if born to the adoptive parent(s), including the right of inheritance.

Adoption in Australia

Dynamic data display icon 36px GIF Adoptions dynamic data displays

Dynamic charts and data on adoptions since 1998–99.

Supplementary tables

Data tables containing notes on the data used in the dynamic data displays.

Glossary

Definitions of common terms used in the national adoptions reporting.

The categories of adoption used in national reporting are:

  • Intercountry adoptions—adoptions of children from countries other than Australia who are legally able to be placed for adoption, but who generally have had no previous contact or relationship with the adoptive parent(s). Expatriate adoptions are not included in the numbers for intercountry adoptions.
  • Local adoptions—adoptions of children who were born or permanently residing in Australia before the adoption, who are legally able to be placed for adoption, but who generally have had no previous contact or relationship with the adoptive parent(s).
  • ‘Known’ child adoptions—adoptions of children who were born or permanently residing in Australia before the adoption, who have a pre-existing relationship with the adoptive parent(s) and who are generally not able to be adopted by anyone other than the adoptive parent(s). Known child adoptions include adoptions by step-parents, other relatives and carers.

These are the latest figures from Adoptions Australia 2015–16.

Adoptions in Australia, 2015–16

Adoptions flowchart 2015-16  

Trend graph shows adoptions rates have fallen from 1,052 in 1990-91 to 278 in 2015-16.

74% decline

in adoptions in Australia in the last 25 years.


1 in 2 adoptions by step-parent PNG

1 in 2

known child adoptions were by step-parents.


Adoptees under 5 PNG

100%

of local adoptees were under 5.

71%

of intercountry adoptees were under 5.

9%

of known child adoptees were under 5.


parents 40 and over PNG

48%

of adoptive parents in local adoptions were 40 and over.

80%

of adoptive parents in intercountry adoptions were 40 and over.


90% adoptees from Asia PNG

90%

of adoptees who came from overseas were from Asia: mainly the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea.


3 year wait time PNG

>3 years

was the typical wait time* for families adopting a child from overseas in 2015–16.

In 2014–15, the wait time was >5 years.


borth mothers under 30 PNG

3 in 5

birth mothers of local adoptees were under 30.

Almost all birth mothers (93%) were unmarried.


Open contact PNG

89%

of local adoptions were ‘open’ (that is, all parties agreed to some contact).


* Wait time is measured from when the applicant became an official client of the department to when a child was placed with them.