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Adoption transfers the legal rights and responsibilities of a child’s birth parents to a new set of (adoptive) parents who are now legally considered to be their parents.

Queensland adoptions are organised through Adoption Services Queensland (Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs), and includes local and overseas adoptions. Privately arranged adoptions are illegal in Queensland and penalties apply.


Adopting a child

The information on this page relates to persons wanting to adopt a child in Queensland.

When adopting a child, you must put your name on the adoption expression of interest register maintained by Adoption Services Queensland.  This is a list of people waiting to be assessed for their suitability as an adoptive parent

To be eligible for the register you must:

  • be an adult living in Queensland.
  • be an Australian citizen or have a partner, to whom you are married or who are in a defacto relationship with, who is an Australian citizen.
  • not be pregnant.
  • not be an intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement within the Surrogacy Act 2010. If you have been the intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement, the surrogacy arrangement must have ended at least 6 months earlier.
  • not have custody of either a child under 1 year of age or a child who has been in your custody for less than 1 year (not including children for whom you are an approved carer under the Child Protection Act 1999).
  • not already have your name in the expression of interest or suitable adoptive parent registers.

Once you’ve registered your name/s you can be selected by Adoption Services Queensland to start the assessment phase.

If you have a partner, you must make a joint expression of interest and you must both be eligible for the register.

Visit the Queensland Government website’s adopting a child in Queensland for more information about completing an adoption expression of interest form.

Note: The Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice) Act 2020 was passed in Queensland Parliament and royal assent was granted by the Governor on 14 September 2020. This ground-breaking Act provides legal recognition of Torres Strait Islander families’ continued use of traditional child rearing practice. We are currently reviewing this legislation and the information on this page. For more information contact the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships or the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS).


Disagreeing with a decision about your suitability 

If you’re found ineligible or unsuitable for the adoption expression of interest register, then Adoption Services Queensland must give their reasons for the decision.  If you disagree with their decision, you can have it reviewed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).


Adopting with a disability

Adults with disabilities can face problems meeting the adoption guidelines. Contact the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs  for more information.


Adopting your stepchildren 

Adoption is a serious and final legal step and it’s not usual to formally adopt stepchildren because parenting Orders can be made to meet a child’s needs without adoption.

A child’s stepparent (ie the married or defacto spouse of a parent of the child) can apply to adopt the child if:

  • the person is an adult living in Queensland, and is an Australian citizen (or the spouse of an Australian citizen).
  • the person has lived with the child and partner for at least 3 years.
  • the person has been given permission by the Family Court under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) to start adoption proceedings.
  • the child is at least 5 years old and not older than 17 (an application may be accepted for a child who has turned 17 in some situations).

An application for a 17 year old may be accepted if Adoption Services Queensland decides:

  • the adoption process can be completed before the child turns 18.
  • the grounds for making an adoption Order in favour of the applicant are likely to exist.


Agreeing to an adoption

The child’s mother, father and/or guardian must freely and voluntarily agree (consent) to the adoption before the Childrens Court can make an adoption Order.

If the father’s identity is unknown, and the mother is solely responsible for the child then the department must:

  • establish the father’s identity and/or locate them so they can be involved in the adoption process.
  • give the father information about agreeing to the adoption.
  • inform the father about applying for a parenting Order for the child in the Family Law Courts.

If a stepparent is adopting the child, each of the child’s parents must agree before the Childrens Court can make an adoption Order.

Under the Adoption Act 2009 (Qld), the Childrens Court may dispense with the need for a parent or guardian to consent to the child’s adoption in certain situations (eg where a person is withholding consent unnecessarily, or if they don’t have capacity to consent).


Disputes with the other parent

Both the child’s mother and father will need to agree to the adoption (regardless of their marital status) before proceeding.

In some situations, the adoption can proceed without both the parents’ agreement if it is in the best interests of the child.


Child support payments

Once the adoption Order has been made, the child’s birth parents no longer have to pay child support, as their parental rights and responsibilities will be removed and transferred to the adoptive parents.


Changing a child’s name

The adoptive parents can change the child’s name during the adoption process, however the Court will only make an Order changing a child’s existing first name if the Court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances that warrant the making of the Order.


What other options are available?

Adoption may not be the only option available for you. For example, you don’t have to legally adopt a child to have parental responsibility for them.  In some situations, the Family Law Courts can make parenting Orders relating to a person who isn’t the child’s parent.


Making the adoption final

Once the adoption Order has been made final, the child then becomes the ‘legal’ child of the stepparent and they become the ‘adoptive parent/s’ of the child.  The law no longer recognises that a parent-child relationship existed between the child and the birth parent.

The Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs will organise for the final adoption Order to be registered with the Registry for Births, Deaths and Marriages and a new birth certificate will be issued. The new certificate will be registered in the name of the child (after adoption) and will include the names of the new (adoptive) parents.


Disclaimer: The material presented on this website is an information source only. The information on this website is written for people resident in, or affected by the laws of Queensland, Australia only. Links to other sites from this website are provided for the users’ convenience. The LGBTI Legal Service does not endorse these sites and is not responsible for the information on these sites or the use made of this information. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor.

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