Australians are most likely to adopt children from overseas while fewer Australian children are being adopted, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
'In the last 25 years intercountry adoptions have emerged as the dominant category of adoptions, representing 61% of all adoptions in 2008-09, compared with just 10% in 1984-85,' said Mr Tim Beard, Head of the AIHW's Child and Youth Welfare Unit.
Of the intercountry adoptions in 2008-09, most were from China (23%), South Korea (17%), the Philippines (17%) and Ethiopia (14%).
Since the early 1970s, there has been a 22-fold decrease in adoptions in Australia.
'This is a decrease from almost 10,000 adoptions in 1971-72 to around 400 to 600 children each year since the mid 1990s,' Mr Beard said.
This decline can be attributed to the fall in the number of adopted Australian children, including local adoptions, and adoptions of children who have a pre-existing relationship with an adoptive parent ('known' child adoptions).
According to the report, Adoptions Australia 2008-09, there were 441 adoptions in Australia in 2008-09 - just one more than the previous year.
About 25% of adoptions in 2008-09 were 'known' adoptions while 15% were local adoptions.
Almost two-thirds of 'known' adoptions (64%) were by step-parents, and a further one-third (34%) by carers.
Over 70% of children adopted in 2008-09 were aged 5 years or younger. In local and intercountry adoptions, nearly all children were less than 5 years of age. On the other hand, for 'known' adoptions, almost two-thirds of the children were aged 10 years and older.
Of the children in local and intercountry adoptions, around 60% had adoptive parents aged 40 years and over and just over half were adopted into families with no other children.
Two-thirds of the adoptions in 2008-09 could be considered 'open', that is, all parties were open to freely discussing the adoption within their families, and were happy to allow contact to occur between families.
The remaining third were adoptions where birth parents had requested no contact or information between them and the adopting family.
Five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were adopted in 2008-09, with a total of 72 Indigenous children being adopted over the last 15 years.