Adoption – growing concerns

| November 27, 2017

Adoption in Australia is a little talked about topic and is often misunderstood. There are currently 30,000 children in Out of Home Care (OOHC) in Australia. These children have been in OOHC for more than two years and are very unlikely to return to their birth families.

It is not unusual for these children to be moved multiple times before they are two years old and experience a staggering 7 to 10 placements throughout their childhood. They are vulnerable and in need of permanency.

In 2016 there were 278 adoptions processed in Australia, 151 of these were known child adoptions, 82 through the inter-country program and 45 through the local program. The number of children in OOHC is on the rise and the rate of adoption is decreasing.

The first priority for Family and Community Services is to work on a path forward for the birth family to get into a position where they are able to provide a safe environment in order to have their child returned to their home. If this is not viable the next step is to allow these children permanency through adoption.

Family and Community Services NSW are working towards making permanency a priority for all children who would otherwise end up in the OOHC program.

There are two main ways people can adopt in NSW. Firstly through a voluntary process where the birth family relinquish their rights to their child, this usually occurs within the first 2 years of a child’s life. The second option and the current focus in NSW is to have kids who enter the Ministers care and are highly unlikely to return to home to enter into the Permanent Care program. This program allows children to go to a permanent placement with the opportunity of a court ordered adoption in the years to follow.

November is Adoption Awareness Month and we have seen strong support for a reform of the adoption process, there is a heavy focus on creating better pathways to permanency Australia wide. Working with the best interest of each child and ensuring suitable contact with the birth family are at the forefront of the changes currently being realised in NSW.

Barnardos Australia are currently the only non-Government organisation that offer adoption services through their Find-a-Family program in NSW and ACT. There are other foster care service providers who are going through accreditation in order to be able to offer these services in the not too distant future.