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Adoption and Permanent Care in Victoria

Where to Start

If you are considering taking on the permanent care of a child (including through adoption), we recommend you first read our information on How Adoption Works In Australia section.

As each state has its own legislation, agencies and variables, the next step is to research the options for providing a permanent home to a child in Victoria and determine which is right for you.

Currently in Victoria there are three possible pathways:

  • Local adoption (infant only)
  • Permanent Care
  • Intercountry Adoption

Who Can Apply?

  • For local adoption and permanent care there is no age limit but there is an expectation that you should be fit and healthy enough to care for a child safely through to adulthood.
  • Couples who have been married or in a stable de facto relationship for at least two years are able to apply to adopt.
  • Currently single people are not eligible for local adoption in Victoria, but can apply to become the permanent carer of a child.
  • Couples who have undertaken fertility treatment need to have completed it at least six months before starting the application process.
  • For intercountry adoptions, partner countries each have their own eligibility requirements (see more information below).

Local Adoption

In Victoria local adoptions are possible through the Infant Adoption program. This program is for the adoption of babies under 12 months of age. These are children whose birth parents voluntarily relinquish their child for adoption, with usually only a small number of infants requiring adoptive placements in Victoria each year.

Babies under 12 months of age who have special needs (eg. a baby born with disability or who has complex needs) and who are relinquished for adoption are placed through the Permanent Care program rather than adoption.

For more information about adopting an infant in Victoria visit here.

Permanent Care

Children placed in permanent care have come through child protection services and for their safety and well-being it has been decided that they are unable to return home to their birth families. The Children’s Court grants custody and guardianship to the permanent family. Permanent care parents are responsible for day-to-day care of the child and also long term decisions about things like education, changes in residence, health and employment. 

Permanent care provides a child with a permanent, safe and loving home at least until they reach the age of 18, and in most cases, a stable family relationship that will last their lifetime.

In Victoria, permanent care is not the same as foster care which is a temporary arrangement that aims to reunite children with their birth parents. Nor is it like adoption which permanently transfers all legal parenting rights and responsibilities to the adoptive parents.

Support for permanent carers:

In most cases children will have contact with members of their birth family after they join their permanent care family. Initially visits with a child’s birth family are organised and supported by a worker from the permanent care team, until carers feel confident about managing contact themselves.

Permanent carers are also eligible for some financial support.

For more information about what support is available, and all other aspects of Permanent Care in Victoria can be found on the DHHS website.

How to Apply for Adoption or Permanent Care

Adoption and permanent care arrangements in Victoria can only be made by the Department or an approved adoption agency. The initial steps to to adopt an infant in or to become a permanent carer, are the same:

  1. Complete an Adoption and Permanent Care Inquiry Form online, or call your nearest office.
  2. Attend an information session to find out what you need to do to proceed to the next stage.
  3. Attend training sessions to find out more about the adoption and permanent care process, and help prepare you for parenting your child.
  4. Complete a detailed application that includes: police, medical, and working-with-children checks; providing reference; and if you're in a de facto relationship, documentary evidence will also be required.
  5. Undergo assessment which involves meeting with a social worker several times in your home. The social worker will prepare a report that will be considered together with your application by an assessment committee.

See the DHHS website for details as well as a list of Adoption and Permanent Care offices and their contact details.

Intercountry Adoption

Intercountry Adoption Victoria (IAV) manages the applications and assessments for those applying to adopt children through one of Australia’s intercountry adoption programs.

The role of IAV is to ensure that those applying to adopt children through these programs meet the requirements for adoption, that they have received the appropriate training and information, and to ensure that appropriate post-adoption support is received.

Eligibility requirements

Applicants must meet the Victorian eligibility requirements, and also those of the overseas country from which you wish to adopt a child. Information about the requirements of each partner country can be found at the Intercountry Adoption Australia website, or by using the self assessment tool mentioned below.

How to Apply for Intercountry Adoption

  1. Attend an information session. Dates are listed on the Victorian Intercountry Adoption website.
  2. Download and read the Intercountry Adoption Information Kit
  3. Check that you meet both the Victorian and overseas country requirements using the Intercountry Adoption Self-Assessment Tool
  4. If you meet the eligibility requirements, download and complete the Intercountry Adoption Questionnaire
  5. Send your signed form to Intercountry Adoption Victoria to Intercountry Adoption Victoria, Level 20/ 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne Vic 3000, or email it.
  6. You will be contacted by Intercountry Adoption Victoria to discuss your application, and if eligible, you can start the assessment process
  7. Assessment involves meeting with a social worker several times in your home, and includes police, medical, psychological, and working-with-children checks; providing references; proof of marital status, and payment of statutory State Government fees. Throughout the process you will receive information and support, and attend an education program.

See the DHHS Intercountry Adoption section for details and links to assessment tools.

Costs

Intercountry Adoption can be an expensive option. Applicants must pay for each step of the process, from submitting the initial expression of interest through to post-adoption supervision. Additionally there is the cost of airfares when you travel to meet and bring home your child, visa and immigration fees, and time spent away from the workforce after your adopted child returns home with you.

Changes in Victoria

TThe Victorian Law Reform Commission recently conducted an inquiry into the modernisation of the Adoption Act 1984. Adopt Change will update our information accordingly when changes to the Act are made as a result of the recommendations arising from the inquiry. For more information visit the Victorian Law Reform Commission website.

Support Services

You can access information on support services in Victoria section.