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Adopting an overseas child

The Adoption (Review) Amendment Act 2016 has passed in the South Australian Parliament. This means there are significant changes that may affect you.

See the changes to the Adoption Act page for more information about the changes, and what they might mean for you.

The Department for Child Protection is the only agency in South Australia that can organise an intercountry adoption.

If you are considering adopting an overseas child, first see the Australian Government’s Intercountry Adoption Australia website. The website outlines the adoption process and includes helpful resources and support.

Additional information can be found on the Australian Government Attorney-General’s website.

You should also refer to the following documents:


To be eligible to adopt an overseas child, you must meet all of the following criteria. These requirements are set out in the Adoption Act 1988 and Adoption Regulations 2004.

  • You must be a permanent resident of Australia.
  • You must be an Australian citizen, and in the case of joint applicants, at least one of the applicants must be an Australian citizen.
  • You cannot be registered as a prospective adoptive parent if you had a previous registration that was cancelled on the grounds that it was improperly obtained.
  • You cannot be registered if a child has, at any time, been removed from your and become the subject of an order made under the Children’s Protection Act 1993, or similar.
  • You cannot be registered if you have been convicted of an offence involving:
    • violence towards a child
    • abuse of a child
    • abduction of a child.

You must also meet the criteria of the overseas country from which you want to adopt a child. These criteria are set by the overseas country and change from time to time.

Overseas adoption process

Intercountry adoption is an extremely complex process involving coordination and communication across various agencies at different levels of government, as well as between authorities in overseas countries.

There are 5 stages in an overseas adoption process including:

  • attending information sessions and expressing your interest
  • assessment and registration as prospective adoptive parents
  • application to the overseas country
  • matching and placement of a child
  • post-adoption supervision, case work and support.

How long does it take?

Some applicants may have to wait a considerable time before an application can be prepared and sent overseas.

Some countries operate file management systems or quotas and it may not be possible for an application to be sent until the country calls for more applications.

It is difficult to estimate the length of time the overseas country authorities will take to consider the application and the South Australian or Australian Governments cannot influence this process.

There is no guarantee a child will be placed, even if the application is lodged with the overseas country.

Partner countries

Australia currently has an adoption agreement with several countries. See the Intercountry Adoption Australia website for a current list and specific information in each country about:

  • basic eligibility
  • characteristics of children
  • approximate costs
  • waiting times
  • post-adoption arrangements
  • immigration
  • citizenship arrangements.

Contact Adoption Services for further information.

Fees and additional information

Adopting a child from overseas is an expensive process. These fees do not take into account additional travel or costs associated with the process. These fees are current as at 1 July 2018.

  First application Subsequent applications
Lodging an expression of interest $885 $663
Applying for registration and preparing the family assessment report $4,422 $3,684
Preparing the file for lodgement overseas $2,947 $2,947
Placement of child $3,831 $3,684


Adoption services

Telephone: 8463 3666 (current adoptions)
Email: adoptions [at] sa.gov.au