Although adoption orders may be made by the Supreme Court or the County Court in practice, the County Court handles nearly every case of adoption in Victoria. The most common situations where adoption orders are sought are agency adoptions and adoptions by a spouse of relative.
All adoptions other than those by a relative or spouse must be arranged through an adoption agency. It is an offence to place a child with non-relatives with a view to adoption unless the person making the arrangement has been authorised in writing for the purpose by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or the principal officer of an approved private adoption agency (s 122(1) Adoption Act).
For details regarding adoption agencies currently operating in Victoria, see “Victorian adoption agencies”. Applicants able to respond to the demands of contemporary adoption, including ongoing access and the often complex backgrounds of the children to be placed, are welcome to make enquiries.
The DHHS is the only agency authorised to arrange inter-country adoptions in Victoria.
In proposed adoptions by relatives or a step-parent (known in the Adoption Act as “the spouse of a parent”) the court cannot grant an adoption order unless all of the following can be demonstrated:
1 the welfare and interests of the child would not be adequately provided for by an order in relation to guardianship and custody of the child under the FLA;
2 there are exceptional circumstances that warrant an adoption order being made rather than other orders; and
3 adoption would make better provision. Natural parents are not able (or required) to adopt their own child.