Australian adoption numbers drop to record low

Just over 200 adoptions were finalised in Australia last year - an all time low and  dramatic decline since reporting began more than 50 years ago.

The Australian government started recording adoptions in 1968-1969.

The number of children adopted increased from 6773 in the first year to a peak of 9798 in 1971-1972.

Bbaby feet
There has been a stark decline in adoptions since reporting began more than 50 years ago.

But the latest data in a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows a combined 201 domestic and inter-country adoptions were recorded in 2022-2023, a decline of 98 per cent since the early 1970s peak. 

Over the last five years the number of adoptions has decreased from 330 to 201. 

Domestic adoption falls under two categories: where the parents did not know the child before or are known to the child as a carer, step-parent or relative.

Inter-country adoptions fall under 'Hague' or 'Bilateral' agreements between Australia and partnering countries. 

Overseas adoptions previously increased from 393 to 434 over a 26-year period from 1979-2005 but have since declined to just 28 in the last recording year. 

But the number of children who found a home in Australia from overseas between 2021-2022 increased by 12, the report said. 

Of the 201 total adoptions in the latest data, 86 per cent were done domestically and 142 through the known child process.

Pregnancy stock  photo
The long-term effect of COVID-19 on adoption rates in Australia remains to be seen.

All of the locally adopted children who had not met their adoptive parents were under four. 

The pandemic also had an impact on adoption processes with a 62 per cent decrease in inter-country adoptions from when it began to 2021-22.

But the long-term effect of COVID-19 on adoption in Australia remains unknown and that may become apparent in future data, the report said.

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children adopted through known child adoptions has increased over the last five years, and has doubled over the same period when compared with the previous decade. 

Since before the turn of the millennium, 124 First Nations children have been adopted with 34 per cent adopted by Indigenous Australians, and 66 per cent adopted by other Australians.

Only four First Nations children had adoption orders finalised in the latest data and one was through a local adoption.

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store