The purpose of this letter is to set out the NSW Department of Family and Community Services’ (FACS) position about the adoption of a relative or known child who is not an Australian citizen and who is habitually resident in an overseas country.
FACS currently has responsibility for providing intercountry adoption services. These services are provided by FACS’ Adoption Services. The Director of this service holds the position of the NSW Central Authority for the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention) of which Australia is a member.
Definition of a relative/known child adoption:
- Relative adoption refers to the adoption of a child by the child’s biological relatives. Under the NSW Adoption Act 2000, a person is a “relative” of the child to be adopted if the person is an aunt, uncle, grandparent or sibling of that child either by blood or by legal relationship (such as through marriage or a previous adoption).
- Known child adoption refers to the adoption of a child who is previously known to the family who hopes to adopt the child but they are not related
Circumstances in which adoption of a relative or known child from overseas may be considered:
- the child has lived with the family (who wishes to adopt the child) for the majority of his/her life immediately prior to the request for adoption, the child has come to regard the family as his/her emotional parents and the welfare authorities in the overseas country request that adoption be considered for the child or
- the welfare authorities in the overseas country request FACS to assess a family (who is a relative or knows the child) in New South Wales with a view to the placement of the child. In this situation the welfare authorities (or a Court) would have determined that it is unsafe for the child to continue to live with his/her birth family and that there are no extended family members available to care for the child in the child’s country of origin.
In addition to either one of the above two circumstances, the request made by an overseas welfare authority must be consistent with the principles and requirements outlined in the Convention and the NSW Adoption Act 2000 (the Act) which governs adoption practice in NSW.
The Convention states that intercountry adoption should only occur where it is in the best interests of the child and with respect for the child’s fundamental rights. The Act includes requirements that ensure adoptions are carried out properly with birth parents given counselling about the alternatives to and effects of adoption, no undue pressure being put on birth parents to relinquish their child for adoption and for intercountry adoption, that the possibilities for the child to stay within their own country are canvassed thoroughly.
Even if an overseas welfare authority requests adoption be considered for a particular child, this does not guarantee FACS will support the request. FACS may come to the view from the evidence presented that the circumstances outlined on page 1 of this letter are not met or the arrangement contravenes the Convention or the Act.
Section 11 of the NSW Adoption Act 2000 states that adoptions can only be arranged by the Secretary of the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) or an accredited adoption service provider, not private individuals. This means that FACS is not able to engage with family members or individuals about their desire to adopt a relative or known child who is living in an overseas country. FACS is only able to deal directly with the overseas authority.
If a family wishes FACS to consider a relative or known child adoption, the process for this is:
The Process (for a relative/known child adoption):
- The relevant overseas authority will prepare a detailed “Child Study Report” and forward directly to the NSW Central Authority to consider. This report should be prepared by a qualified welfare/social worker and detail the circumstances of the child and how they meet the circumstances outlined on page 1 of this letter.
- The NSW Central Authority will consider the report and if it makes a judgement that adoption cannot be supported, the overseas country will be advised and the inquiry will not proceed past this step.
- If the report shows that an adoption appears to meet the relevant circumstances, the NSW Central Authority will arrange training and assessment of the prospective adoptive parents. This process will take at least six months or more. The cost of an intercountry adoption in NSW is approximately $9700, half of which must be paid before an assessment commences. The other half is paid at the time of placement of the child. There is no guarantee that a family that undergoes an assessment will be approved as suitable to adopt. If the family is assessed as not suitable to adopt, the inquiry does not proceed past this step. Fees paid are not refundable.
- If the family is assessed as suitable, the NSW Central Authority will forward the required documentation including the adoption assessment report to the overseas authority for their consideration. If they are not suitable, the overseas country will be informed and the inquiry will not proceed past this step.
- If the overseas authority continues to support adoption, the NSW Central Authority will agree to facilitate the adoption as an intercountry adoption under the principles of the Convention and ensure whatever tasks are required to process the adoption are progressed.
The NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) do not issue visas for children coming into Australia. This is the responsibility of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (please refer to: www.border.gov.au).
FACS can support the issuing of an adoption visa but only under very specific circumstances. We support the issuing of a visa to families who have been trained, assessed and approved as suitable to adopt by our Department before they are allocated a child through an intercountry adoption program with whom Australia works. The only other situation in which the FACS may consider supporting the issuing of an adoption visa is when an adoption meets all the requirements detailed above in “The Process” section.
Private adoption arrangements:
Attempts by individuals to make informal or private arrangements for intercountry adoption are not supported under the NSW Adoption Act 2000. The NSW Central Authority is unable to assist with supporting the issuing of an adoption visa in these circumstances.
If you wish to pursue a relative or known child adoption:
Please feel free to give a copy of this letter to the overseas authority so they are aware what the NSW Central Authority’s position and requirements are on this type of adoption. If an overseas authority wishes to contact us, the email address is:
I hope this information clearly explains the NSW position on relative and known child adoption for you.
Alannah Ball A/DIRECTOR NSW
Central Authority for the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption