Australian adoptions increased while intercountry adoptions declined

The number of finalised adoptions in Australia increased slightly to 339 in 2012-13, up from the previous year's all-time low of 333. Compared with 2011-12, the number of children adopted from Australia in 2012-13 increased by 26 (14%), while the number adopted from overseas decreased by 20 (13%). In 2012-13, more Australian children (210, or 62% of all adoptions) were adopted than children from overseas (129, excluding expatriate adoptions). This proportion increased from 55% in 2011-12 to be the highest on record since 1996-97 (also 62%).

Despite the small increase in the number of adoptions in 2012-13, there has been a substantial long-term decline, down 32% since 2003-04, and down 77% since 1988-89 (when there were 1,501 adoptions). This can, in part, be attributed to legislative changes, such as the increased use of alternative legal orders in Australia, as well as to broader social trends and changing social attitudes which have made it easier for children to remain with their birth family or within their country of origin.

Proportion of infants adopted from overseas continued to decline

Although the majority of children adopted from overseas were aged under 5 (78%), the proportion of infants aged under 12 months continued to decline-from a peak of 47% of all intercountry adoptions finalised in 2005-06 to 19% in 2012-13.

Taiwan became the main country of origin for overseas adoptions

The number of finalised intercountry adoptions has declined from most countries of origin in recent years. However, the number from Taiwan has increased substantially-from 3 adoptions in 2003-04 to 37 in 2012-13. This meant that Taiwan became the main country of origin for overseas adoptions for the first time in 2012-13 (overtaking the Philippines and China, which have shared this position over the last decade), comprising 29% of all intercountry adoptions.

Intercountry processing times continued to rise

The median length of time for the overall adoptions process continued to increase (from 37 months in 2007-08 to 61 months in 2012-13). This was due to an increase in processing times in countries of origin. Specifically, the time taken from when an applicant's file was sent overseas to when a child was allocated to the applicant increased from 19 months in 2007-08 to 37 months in 2012-13.

Children in local adoptions tended to be younger

In 2012-13, children who were the subject of a finalised local adoption tended to be younger than those adopted from other countries-all were aged under 5 and almost half (48%) were aged under 12 months.

Adoptions of Australian children by 'known' carers continued to increase

The 81 adoptions in 2012-13 by 'known' carers, such as foster parents (52% of all known adoptions), represented a 10-year high for this type of adoption-more than triple the 25 such adoptions in 2003-04.