Adoption failures and agonising waits put off prospective parents (Aust)

The Age 26 August 2015
Fiona Court and her husband Dale Bartley waited three years to adopt their daughter from China and are desperate to do the same with the son they began fostering in Australia two-and-a-half years ago.

But they they face an agonising, years-long wait to adopt Jimmy*, now 6. They have heard of other foster families waiting up to seven years.

Ms Court and her family are prepared to wade through the red tape and uncertainty. Adoption is “the most rewarding thing possible,” she said. But the Sydney mother added that many people are put off by the lengthy and complex process, which is run by state governments and adoptions agencies.

“A lot more good people will step forward if they could feel that ‘permanent care’ could mean permanent care,” she said.

On Wednesday, the advocacy organisation Adopt Change will release research on attitudes towards adoption in Australia. A national survey of more than 1000 adults found that 17 per cent of those polled had given serious thought to adopting, but 87 per cent of that group did not go ahead with adoption.

This comes in the face of historically low adoption figures. In 2013-14 there were just over 200 children adopted locally in Australia, with about 114 adopted from overseas. The small number of domestic adoptions compares with about 43,000 children in out-of-home care (alternative accommodation for those who can’t live with their parents).

Adopt Change says that more than 18,000 of these children have been in the system for more than two years.

Despite the number of children looking for a permanent home, focus group research conducted for Adopt Change found potential parents were put off by how hard adoption is.

The Adopt Change research follows a call from Coalition senators last week to make adoption of local children easier in Australia, as part of a Senate inquiry into out-of-home care.