Navigating the Adoption Process in QLD

As a family law firm, Pullos Lawyers understands that adoption is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and planning. We know that navigating the adoption process in Qld can be overwhelming, particularly with the complex adoption laws in place.

In this article, we'll break down the adoption process in Qld into simple steps and explain the legal requirements in a way that's easier to understand, adding some reassurance and guidance to prospective adoptive parents during this important journey.

What is Adoption in Qld?

In Queensland, adoption is the permanent and legal transfer of all parental rights and responsibilities from one person or couple to another. Adoptive parents and children have the same rights as biological parents and children under the Family Law Act. The Adoption Act 2009 is the primary legislation in Queensland that governs adoption, and it stipulates that a child can only be adopted with the consent of their birth parents, except in certain circumstances where the birth parents cannot be found or are unable to provide long-term care for their child.

More on Consent For Adoption

In most cases, the consent of the birth parents is required for adoption to take place in Queensland; the Adoption Act 2009 stipulates that a child can only be adopted with the consent of their birth parents. Consent must be given freely and without coercion, and with a clear understanding of what adoption means. In addition, children over the age of 12 must also consent to the adoption in writing, and the court may take into account the wishes of children under the age of 12.
However, there are some instances where consent may not be required for adoption to take place. This occurs when a child has been abandoned or the birth parents cannot be found or are unable to provide long-term care for their child. In such cases, The Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs may take over the guardianship of the child and may apply for an adoption order.

The Adoption Process in Queensland

The adoption process in Qld is a complex legal process that involves many steps. The Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs is responsible for facilitating all adoptions in Queensland, and they provide guidance and support throughout the process.

Each year, there are usually only a small number of children in need of adoption.  Typically these children are 2 and under.

Step 1: Make Sure You Meet the Eligibility Requirements to Be Able to Submit an Expression of Interest

  • you must be an adult
  • either you or your partner (if applicable) must be an Australian citizen
  • you must reside or be domiciled in Queensland
  • you cannot be pregnant (female)
  • you are not an intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement within the meaning of the Surrogacy Act 2010
  • if you have been an intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement within the meaning of the Surrogacy Act 2010, the surrogacy arrangement ended at least 6 months earlier
  • you do not have custody of either a child aged less than 1 year or a child who has been in your custody for less than 1 year (excluding children for whom you are an approved carer under the Child Protection Act 1999)
  • your name is not already in the expression of interest or suitable adoptive parents registers.


Step 2: Attend an Adoption Information Session

It is recommended you attend an information session which are held in Brisbane, Queensland. More information about the sessions or viewing the videos can be found here.


Step 3: Complete the Adoption Expression of Interest form

The Adoption Expression of Interest Form can be found here. The Qld Government also has a guide on completing the form.


Step 4: You Will be Notified if you Meet Eligibility Requirements

If you meet these, you will then be placed on the Expression of Interest Register.

Meeting the eligibility requirements does not automatically mean you will be selected for the pre-adoption assessment. If 2 years has passed and you still have not received notice of your selection for the assessment process, it means your expression of interest has now expired.

In this instance, if you still wish to adopt, you will be required to submit another expression of interest.

Sometimes, Adoption Services may need to close the register if the number of people in the register significantly exceeds the need for adoptive parents. If the register is closed, expressions of interest cannot be received until the register is re-opened. You can call Adoption Services on 3097 5100 or 1800 647 983 (free call within Queensland) to find out if the register is closed.


Step 5: Pre-Adoption Assessment

The next step in the adoption process is comprehensive assessment and is designed to evaluate the suitability of prospective adoptive parents and ensure that they are capable of providing a safe and stable home for a child. If you are a couple, you will be assessed jointly, but you must be deemed suitable adoptive parents as individuals.

During the assessment, prospective adoptive parents will be required to provide personal and financial information, and attend interviews and training sessions.

Officials will conduct checks including criminal and domestic violence checks, your traffic record, and gather information about your health. Officials will also conduct home visits to interview you and other household members.

In selecting people for assessment, priority may be given to:

  • a person with the same ethnic background as the child to be adopted
  • a person who has previously adopted a child with similar placement needs
  • a person with the earliest relevant expression of interest.


Step 6: Department Recommendations

Once assessment has been completed, a recommendation is made by Adoption Services as to whether you are deemed a suitable adoptive parent.

If you are deemed suitable, your names will be added to the Suitable Adoptive Parents Register. If you have expressed interest in adopting overseas, your information will be shared with the relevant overseas adoption authority.


Step 7: Receiving & Accepting a Placement Proposal

For adoptions within Queensland, Adoptions Services will choose the couple from the register that best meets the child's needs and interests. If you have been deemed the most suitable choice for a child, you will receive a placement proposal.

The placement proposal from Adoption Services will contain all relevant, non-identifying information about the child’s needs, characteristics, the birth parent’s placement preferences and circumstances. You are entitled to decline the placement proposal if you determine the match is not right for you.

If you accept the placement proposal, you will be required to fill out an Acceptance of Placement form. Adoption Services will also work with you to make arrangements for meeting the child and discuss anticipated timeframes. In addition, they will initiate the process of obtaining an Interim Adoption Order from the Children's Court, as per the Adoption Act 2009.

An Interim Adoption Order will allow you to take custody of the child and make decisions about their daily care.


Step 8: A Final Adoption Order

A Final Adoption Order can only be made by the Children’s Court after the child has been in your custody for at least 12 months.

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, Interim Adoption Orders are not required for people who have been foster carers of the child for at least one year.

When a Final Adoption Order is made, all parental rights and responsibilities transfer from the birth parents to the adoptive parents, and the child's birth certificate is amended to reflect the new parental status.


Step 9: Post-Adoption Support

The adoption process does not end once the legal process is complete. Adoptive parents and children may require ongoing support and guidance, particularly during the initial adjustment period.

The Department Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs provides post-adoption support services to adoptive families, including counselling, financial assistance, and access to adoption support groups.

Step-Parent/Step-Child Adoption

In addition to traditional adoption, step-parents in Queensland can also legally adopt their step-child. Step-parent adoption occurs when a step-parent becomes the permanent adoptive parent of their spouse's child.

The legal requirements for step-parent adoption are different from traditional adoption. For example, the step-parent must have lived with the child and their partner for at least three years, and the child must be between the ages of 5 and 18.

The following requirements must also be met:

  • The step-parent has obtained consent from the other parent who they do not live with, or the Children’s Court of Queensland has determined consent is not required.
  • the step-parent is over the age of 18, and is an Australian citizen (or the partner of an Australian citizen), living in Queensland;
    the step-parent has been given permission from the Federal Circuit & Family Court to commence adoption proceedings.
  • There is a separate form for adopting a step-child: Application to adopt a step-child (PDF). This must be completed, along with proof of identity: identity documents (PDF), and sent to Adoption Services.

Need More Guidance in Regards To the Adoption Process in Qld?


If you are considering adoption in Queensland, we suggest you first read the Queensland and Intercountry Adoption handbook here. If you need legal assistance with any aspect of the adoption process in Qld, Pullos Family Lawyers can help. Our team of experienced family lawyers have experience dealing with a number of family law issues, including separation and divorce law, LGBTQI law and wills and estate planning. We understand the emotional complexities navigated by families of all shapes and sizes, and can provide empathetic support to prospective adoptive parents in Queensland. We can help guide you through the legal requirements for adoption, including obtaining consent where required and navigating any court proceedings that may be necessary. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can assist you.