Seek advice on intercountry adoptions

Date: May 21, 2012

The adoption process can be difficult to navigate at the best of times, but adopting a child from overseas can be more problematic than many people realise.

The best way to make sure you stay on the right side of the law is to seek family law advice, as there are all sorts of rules and regulations for you to follow before an application will be considered.

In Australia, intercountry adoptions are dealt with by the state and territory authorities, who are responsible for assessing prospective parents and ultimately giving their approval.

Situations may vary between states, so make sure you research the specifics of the area where you live before moving forward with an application.

In the majority of cases, potential parents will be allocated a child from an overseas country through the adoption authority in their state or territory.

Once the request has been accepted, the parents are then able to lodge an adoption visa for the child and pay the necessary charge - this can be submitted at any department regional office in Australia.

The relevant overseas departmental office will then receive the documentation for processing, or it might be sent directly to the office with evidence that the application fee has been paid.

A child will then have to undergo all the necessary medical checks - if the health requirement of the visa is not met then they may not be granted the paperwork they need to relocate to Australia.

In some situations there may be a waiver of the health requirement, however, if this does not occur then the visa application charge will not be refunded or transferred to another child.

Providing the health requirements have been satisfied, the adoption will then be finalised in the overseas country where the authorities will arrange their departure to Australia.

At this stage the child will be granted permanent residence, which will also be reflected in their foreign passport.

In some instances, prospective parents arrange their adoption privately - a matter that family lawyers will also be able to assist with.

However, the only situation where an adoption visa will be granted to a child adopted privately overseas is when the parents have been living outside Australia themselves for more than 12 months.

It is worth noting these this type of adoption comes with its own specific legal requirements that adoptive parents must meet, including that the relevant authorities in the overseas country have approved the child's departure.