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 their community (HREOC 1997). Arrangements of this type are generally preferred, and adoption orders are made only when informal alternatives are judged not to be in the best interests of the child.
Between 1999-2000 and 2003-04 there were only 15 registered adoptions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia. Seven 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 eight were ‘placement’ adoptions where there was no pre-existing relationship between the parent and the child.
The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle also covers the adoption of Indigenous children. Of the eight Indigenous placement adoptions recorded between 1999-2000 and 2003-04, four were adoptions by Indigenous parents and four were adoptions by other parents (AIHW 2004a).