The formal adoption of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has not been a common practice in recent years. In many cases where Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children cannot live with their birth parents, informal arrangements are made for them to live with a relative or other member of the community (HREOC 1997). Arrangements of this type are generally preferred and adoption orders are only made when informal alternatives are judged not to be in the best interests of the child.
Between 2001-02 and 2005-06 there were only 18 adoptions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia. Eight of these were 'known' child adoptions where the adoptive parents had a pre-existing relationship with the child (e.g. relatives/kin or carers), and 10 were 'local' adoptions where there was no pre-existing relationship between the adoptive parents and the child.
Although the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle also covers the adoption of Indigenous children, of the 10 'local' adoptions of Indigenous children between 2001-02 and 2005-06, three were adoptions by Indigenous parents and seven were adoptions by non-Indigenous parents.