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Intercountry adoption occurs when an Australian citizen or permanent resident, who is residing in Australia, adopts a child from another country through the authorities in their Australian state or territory. DCJ is currently the only agency in NSW which can arrange intercountry adoption.

Waiting times

In recent years waiting times across most intercountry adoption programs have increased significantly.

Also, the number of children requiring overseas adoptive families is declining as these countries are better able to place children with families within their own country.

Understandably this is difficult for prospective adoptive applicants who invest a great deal of time and energy into the adoption process.

We encourage you to refer to the Intercountry Adoption Australia website for up-to-date information on the existing intercountry adoption programs and their relevant waiting times.

Adoption fees and costs

Intercountry adoption can be expensive. Fees vary between the overseas countries involved. Information about the fees charged by overseas authorities is available by visiting Partner countries.

In addition to the state fees listed below, there are other costs to consider including:

  • airline travel
  • overseas accommodation
  • preparing documents (translation, legal and notary fees).
Type of feeStageFirst applicationSecond and subsequent applications
Information stage Information and expression of interest $640 No charge
Assessment Application & assessment $4260 $2100
Allocation Allocation $4800 $4800

Adoption costs current at 1 July 2017. Please note that adoption costs can be subject to change.

Fees are paid in stages, prior to the provision of adoption services and are non-refundable.

Additional fees

  • Applicants are responsible for any additional charges levied by government departments, consulates and businesses within Australia for costs relating to immigration visas, translation, notarisation, legalisation and authentication of documents and courier fees for sending documents.
  • Applicants are responsible for any charges imposed by overseas authorities in connection with the processing of their applications, allocation of a child, legal expenses payable in the overseas countries and reports requested by the overseas authorities following the finalisation of adoption action.
  • Applicants are responsible for travel, accommodation and living costs related to going to the overseas country to be placed with their child.

DCJ acknowledges that there are circumstances where the fee structure may disadvantage applicants with lower incomes. Fee relief provisions are detailed in the Hardship policy for intercountry adoption.

Ethics and rights

All intercountry adoptions are governed by the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of intercountry adoption, which places obligations on both the child’s country of origin and the receiving country.

DCJ works to safeguard and protect the rights, welfare and interests of children being adopted, while providing applicants with a professional adoption service.

We work only through overseas government adoption authorities or their accredited agencies.

DCJ is very strict about which adoption programs we support, and will only facilitate the adoption of a child if we're satisfied that every alternative which would have enabled the child to remain in their country has been explored.

Illegal adoptions

Adoptions in NSW can only occur through DCJ or an accredited adoption service provider.

DCJ is currently the only agency in NSW which can arrange intercountry adoption.

Private adoption arrangements are illegal and there are penalties for all involved in such arrangements.

DCJ will not support applications to independent adoption agents in another country.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will refuse a child an entry visa to Australia if the adoption arrangements are not initiated by DCJ and approved by the agency prior to placement of a child.

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Last updated: 21 Oct 2019