Due to the small number of annual adoptions and the multiple years that can be involved in an adoption process, trend analyses over extended periods can provide more robust and meaningful insights than analyses of change over shorter periods. In this report, trends going back to 1968–69 are explored in the context of broader social, societal, and policy changes that occurred in Australia and internationally.

  • Cat. no: CWS 91
Findings from this report:
  • In 1971–72, almost 10,000 children were adopted in Australia in what has been known as the forced adoption era

  • Compared to the peak of overseas adoptions in 2004–05, adoption numbers in 2021–22 have declined by 96% from 434 to 16

  • After open adoption legislation was introduced in the 1980s and 1990s, domestic adoption numbers fell substantially

  • Following the peak in adoptions in 1971–72, adoption numbers decreased 98% from 9,798 to 208 in 2021–22