The most common situations where adoption orders are sought are agency adoptions (legalisations), adoptions by a spouse of a child’s existing legal parent, or adoptions by a relative of the child.
All adoptions (other than those by a child’s relative or the spouse of a child’s parent) must be arranged through the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) adoption and permanent care teams, or through an approved agency. An approved agency is a welfare organisation that has been approved by the Secretary of the DHHS under division 2 of part II of the Adoption Act.
Adoption and permanent care teams and approved agencies facilitate all aspects of the adoption process, including:
1 assisting children admitted to the guardianship of DHHS;
2 counselling parents who are considering relinquishing their child for adoption;
3 consenting to adoptions;
4 providing information and guidance to prospective adoptive parents;
5 assessing applicants to determine whether they are “fit and proper persons” to adopt;
6 supervising adoption placements;
7 organising access arrangements and the exchange of information.
It is an offence to make unauthorised adoption arrangements. Any person who transfers, causes to be transferred or receives possession, custody or control of a child with a view to adopting the child – without being authorised to do so in writing by the Secretary of DHHS or by the principal officer of an approved agency – is guilty of an offence (s 122(1) Adoption Act).
For the contact details of approved adoption agencies operating in Victoria, see “Victorian approved adoption agencies”. Applicants who can respond to the demands of contemporary adoption – including facilitating a child’s ongoing access to their birth family and managing a child with a complex background – are welcome to make enquiries.
In Victoria, DHHS is the only agency authorised to arrange inter-country adoptions.