There were 48 “local” adoptions in Australia, where children had no pre-existing relationship with the adoptive family.
More than nine in 10 of these were “open” adoptions, with all parties agreeing to some form of contact or information exchange between the families.
There were 37 inter-country adoptions – 11 per cent of all adoptions – finalised in Australia in 2019-20.
Almost all came from Asian countries, including 43 per cent from Taiwan, 22 per cent from South Korea, 16 per cent from Thailand, 11 per cent from the Philippines and 5 per cent from Hong Kong.
The coronavirus pandemic stymied domestic and overseas adoptions during the first half of 2020, as a result of travel bans, limitations on non-urgent face-to-face work and resource reallocation.
“Travel restrictions and the impact of the pandemic on visa applications likely contributed to the low number of inter-country adoptions finalised during 2019-20,” Mr Indraharan said.
“It is possible some adoptions that would have otherwise been finalised during the year will appear in national data for subsequent years.”
But Mr Indraharan said even without the effects of COVID-19, adoptions from overseas probably would have still been lower in 2019-20 than the previous year.
Just 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were adopted in 2019-20 in Australia – nine through “known” child adoption and three through “local” adoption.
Of the 12 Indigenous children adopted, four were adopted by Indigenous Australians and eight by non-Indigenous Australians.
In 2017, Queensland dad Stewart revealed it took his family five years to adopt his sons, while local adoption was in decline since the 1970s due to contraception and “different attitudes” towards starting a family outside of marriage.
Meanwhile, Parliament will this year debate laws sparked by the death of Mason Jet Lee, who was 22 months old in 2016 when he was struck so hard in the abdomen by his mother’s boyfriend it ruptured his small intestine, and he died.
The Queensland government’s handling of Mason’s case was a “failure in nearly every possibly way”, a coroner found, while the public sector watchdog said child safety officers who failed to protect the Caboolture toddler should have been fired.
However, in a submission to the bill that would promote adoption as a third option, Adoptee Rights Australia argued there were significant long-term negative outcomes in adoption.
In 2019, there were calls for adult adoption to be legalised in Queensland.
Felicity Caldwell is state political correspondent at the Brisbane Times