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    Adoption Australia & Intercountry Adoption Arrangements  

    Article 2: release date: 22, January 2021

    Outline of process in intercountry adoptions

    What seems to be a complicated process, especially amidst an emotionally charged decision, may actually turn out to be quite a simple one to follow. Whether in theory only, is still to be decided, but bear with us and we’ll attempt to break it down for you

    First of all, applications to be adoptive parents are made to the Department of Communities and Justice (if you’re in NSW). The Department then puts your application to the courts, to ask for the adoption application to be decided.

    The time frame for adoption is on average 25 months.

    The person you are wanting to adopt (let’s say a child) has a country of residence and the relevant departments in that home country manages all of the processing, to ensure the safety of the child. For this part of the process, you have nothing to be concerned about. The challenges you will possibly encounter is Australian Government departments.

    Whether you’re a couple or one individual seeking to adopt a child doesn’t seem to affect your chances. However, as proud and prospective parents, you do need to satisfy the Australian Government that you are eligible and will meet the strict criteria. This isn’t necessarily difficult (why would you apply if there was any doubt right?), but you do need to be mindful of what the criteria is, and how you go about presenting your eligibility. That’s where an expert lawyer comes in handy!

    Criteria for Australian Adoption

    All our research points to the need for you to show that you are habitually residing in Australia. So, what does this mean?

    • Your address in the last few years is a NSW address;
    • You must provide utility bills, payslips and maybe a few other items for good measure (such as photographs or receipts of leisurely activities you’ve done here);
    • The basic standard of suitability is ‘good repute’ and ‘fit and proper persons to fulfil the responsibilities of parents’. Just take a moment to reflect and ‘tick the box’; and 
    • If you have steady employment or income and a place to call home, then by all accounts, you are already a good way down the track.

    In the past twenty years, intercountry adoptions have decreased from 244 to 57 adoptions per year. Although it is a dramatic decrease, it does not mean potential adoptive parents are facing harder times in Australia trying to adopt. In fact, these decreases are merely due to changing attitudes, the choice that children go into foster homes, or countries overseas providing domestic care for displaced children. You can expect that the department will ask for more information; and sometimes a lot. To ensure your suitability, the government may ask for a nationwide criminal check, a Community Services check, or statements from agencies.  There are also specific criteria such as the health of the parent(s), financial capabilities, stability, and character.

    Seems fair given you are going to be responsible for another human being.

    You also need to be mindful of the very possibility that you need to maintain contact with the child’s birth family. Ultimately, it all goes to assure the department that as adoptive parents, you will provide the child with a home, food, clothing, an education and abundance of love and affection – no differently from biological parents, though we appreciate the process is that little bit different in the scheme of things. There will be frustrations, let there be no doubt!

    We understand that the majority of the ‘decision process’ is conducted out of sight of the adoptive parents. In fact, much of the decision making occurs in a closed court (but if you want to attend the hearing, there are ways to do so). In the court, legal technicalities such as the manner and form of the government’s arrangements and seeing whether the application accords with Australian law and international obligations, play a large role.

    We understand bureaucracy is of no interest to soon-to-be parents in such an emotionally demanding situation. The good news is that if you’ve taken care of the matters that you do have control over, the rest is out of your hands. You will then need to be patient until you have made it onto the waiting list. At this stage it’s worth remembering that progress is to be celebrated no matter how small and making it this far, is a huge achievement!

    Fortunately, once the courts and government departments have decided your application is a success, an adoption certificate is granted which automatically recognises the child as a citizen, bypassing the messy immigration process.

    In the third and final article in this series, we give you a quick and free checklist of essential information.

    Click here for the third and final article about adoption.

    For more information on the legalities of Australian Adoption, contact Harbourside today.

    Harbourside Legal Services Group – great advice, brilliant Lawyers.

    Call +61 (0) 2 9955 6692 or +61 (0) 2 9299 5815 or email lee@hslegal.com.au  

    You Can Also Find us at:

    www.hslegal.com.au | www.hslegal-commercial.com.au | www.brettslater.com

    The contents of this article are considered reference only. It should not be considered legal advice of any kind and should not be relied upon. A consultation should always be had with an experienced Lawyer, before proceeding with any action.

    Harbourside Legal Services Group is an award-winning law firm.

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