Intercountry adoption

If you are considering intercountry adoption, you should check whether you meet the requirements of both the Victorian program and the overseas country program.

In some countries, for reasons such as war, famine or poverty, children are unable to be cared for by their family or any other family in that country. In these cases, children can be placed with Victorian families.

It’s important to remember that for these children, international adoption is always a last resort. It only happens if they can’t be cared for in the community and culture into which they were born. The overriding consideration in intercountry adoption, as with all adoptions, is always the best interests of the child.

In Victoria the Intercountry Adoption Service is responsible for arranging intercountry adoptions.

Adopting a child from overseas

We are looking for eligible Victorian families who are willing and able to adopt a child with special needs from a range of overseas countries.

Intercountry adoption is only considered when a country has exhausted all options to care for a child.

Intercountry Adoption Victoria (IAV) is responsible for assessing the families that are interested in providing a permanent, legal family for children who require adoption from an approved overseas country.

IAV facilitates the adoption process and supports and supervises the child and family as they transition to their new lives together.

Children who require adoption

In recent years, the majority of children placed with Victorian families have been 4 years and older.

The children who require adoption are likely to have special needs as a result of their life experiences. Many will have lived in orphanages for most of their life and not had the individual care and attention that children need. They will have experienced multiple caregivers and are unlikely to have formed a strong and healthy bond to a primary carer. Many will have complex and challenging family backgrounds.

Despite the best efforts of orphanage staff, these children are likely to have had poor or limited access to health care, education and other developmental opportunities. Most will have health and developmental issues.

Children with these sorts of life experiences need careful and consistent parenting to help them heal from their traumatic experiences. Considered and insightful parenting will help these children realise their full potential.

It can be challenging for a family to provide the consistent care and nurturing that a vulnerable child needs, however intercountry adoptive families agree that the rewards are immeasurable. There are a range of resources designed to help you including an education program and ongoing access to support and training through various support groups. Our duty workers would be happy to discuss these and your individual circumstances.

Alternatively, there is always a need for families to provide care for a range of Victorian children who cannot live with their families. There are a small number of infants who require adoption each year and a large number of children who require permanent care.

You may also be interested in exploring the option of becoming a foster carer of children. Visit the Fostering Connections website to find out more and apply online.

If you would like to talk to someone, contact Intercountry Adoption Victoria.

More information

To find out who's eligible, how to register your interest and how applications are assessed see the following information.

    • Intercountry adoption information kit

      If you are interested in adopting a child from overseas, the Intercountry adoption service information kit provides:

      • Essential information on Victorian requirements and those of the overseas country programs
      • Details of the process
      • Participating countries
      • Costs.

      The kit is full of important and essential reading that you must do before you consider registering your interest.

      Intercountry adoption information kit (word)

    • Overseas country eligibility requirements

      Each overseas country program has its own set of eligibility requirements for adoptive families. These can include limitations around age, health issues, finances, family composition, fertility, education, religion and cultural background, which may exclude some applicants.

      Some applicants, for example single people, same-sex couples, older people and applicants with certain health conditions, may only be eligible to apply for some programs.

      Basically, families can apply to Intercountry Adoption Victoria (IAV) if they meet both the Victorian and the selected overseas country's specified requirements.

      You will find comprehensive information on overseas country eligibility requirements on the Commonwealth Intercountry Adoption Australia website.

    • Who can apply to adopt a child from overseas?

      In Victoria, you can apply if you meet the following:

      • You are an adult and habitually reside in Victoria
      • You are currently married or living in a defacto relationship for a minimum period of 2 years
      • You are a single person neither married nor in a defacto relationship
      • You are an Australian citizen (for couples one must be an Australian Citizen)
      • You are able and willing to work with Intercountry Adoption Victoria (IAV) to assess whether you meet the requirements of the Victorian program and the overseas country. 

      We also need to consider any current or potential children in your care.  You therefore must also meet the following:

      • Any existing child in your family, inclusive of birth, step or adopted children are at least 12 months of age
      • The adopted child would be the youngest child in your family. Intercountry Adoption Victoria has requirements around time and age gaps between children already in your family and the subsequently adopted children based on needs and best interests of the adopted child
      • Any previously adopted child's placement is finalised and adoption order granted
      • You are not currently engaged in a surrogacy arrangement as an intended parent
      • You are not currently undergoing fertility treatment. IAV has some specific requirements around fertility treatment which are based on the needs and best interests of the adopted child. Our duty workers would be happy to discuss these and your individual circumstances
      • You are not currently pregnant.

      Note: Single applicants are not eligible for all country programs. Couples in same-sex relationships may apply to adopt under Victorian law, however not all programs accept applications from couples in same-sex relationships.

    • How to register your interest

      Remember, before you apply, it is important to read the Intercountry adoption Victoria information kit to get a basic understanding of the process and which overseas country programs are currently seeking families.

      Once you have read the kit, here's how to register your interest:

      • Step 1: Check you meet the Victorian requirements
      • Step 2: Check you meet the overseas country requirements using the self assessment tool to assist you
      • Step 3: If you are eligible, complete the Intercountry Adoption Victoria questionnaire and send your signed form to Intercountry Adoption Victoria by:
        • Mail: Intercountry Adoption Victoria, Level 20/ 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
        • Email:

      Once we receive your registration of interest, we will contact you directly to discuss the completed questionnaire.

      Families who meet all eligibility criteria will be invited to complete a full application for assessment of their suitability to be adoptive parents.

      Intercountry adoption self assessment tool (word)

      Intercountry adoption Victoria questionnaire and child profile form (word)

    • Assessment process

      We assess your application against requirements outlined in the Victorian Adoption Act 1984, requirements of the overseas country and take into consideration what we know about the special needs of the children in the program.

      Throughout the process you will receive information and support, and attend an education program we deliver.  We collect information from a range of sources in order to meet both the Victorian and overseas country requirements.

      Assessment requirements may include:

      • Home visits to speak with you and if applicable, your children, other adult household members and your nominated referees. For couples, we speak with you together and individually
      • References and financial statements
      • Physical and psychological health medical reports from your general practitioner and any specialists involved in your health care
      • Criminal, traffic, family violence and child protection history checks
      • Payment of statutory State Government fees.

      If you are not eligible for the Intercountry Adoption Program (IAV), you may be eligible for the local Adoption or Permanent care programs.

    • Next information sessions

      Monday, 29 January 2018

      • Time: 10am to 11am
      • Location: Level 20, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 (FRIS conference Room)

      Friday, 23 March 2018

      • Time: 10am to 11am
      • Location: Level 20, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 (FRIS conference Room)

      Friday, 1 June 2018

      • Time: 10am to 11am
      • Location: Level 20, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 (FRIS conference Room)

      Note: There is no cost and prior registration is not required.

    Intercountry Adoption Victoria
    03 8608 5700 or 1800 130 225
    9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday
    Intercountry Adoption Australia
    1800 197 760

    Managed by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services. A national service and central point of contact for people at all stages of the intercountry adoption process.

    Australian Central Authority (Commonwealth Attorney General's Department, Intercountry Adoption Branch)