Family Law Blog

Adopting a better approach – Changes to the adoption process in NSW

Posted by Karina Ralston on 6 Nov 2015

Individuals and couples looking to adopt in Australia have historically faced a slow moving and expensive battle. Recent reforms, championed by Deborra-lee Furness, with the support of the NSW Government, may assist to improve the adoption process.

Australia now has the second-lowest adoption rate in the developed world. This would be unsurprising to many individuals and families who have endured the long and expensive process of adopting a child (both within and outside Australia). The Herald Sun recently reported that in 2011-12 there were only 333 adoptions in Australia. Of these adoptions 149 were overseas adoptions and 129 were "known' adoptions (when the adoption formalises a pre-existing parental relationship). A mere 55 were local adoptions. This represents a 78% drop in the number of adoptions since 1987.

The current waiting list for inter-country adoption can be anything between three to five years with costs as high as $30,000. The waiting period for local adoptions isn’t much shorter, stretching anywhere from 18 to 24 months.

However, although adoption rates are at an all-time low, and despite the associated delay and cost, there is still a significant number of Australian families wishing to adopt and they’re calling for a reform to the current process.

The NSW Government appears to have heard the calls for reform and is set to consider proposed changes to the Care Act aimed at boosting the number of adoptions in NSW "by hundreds."

The proposed changes would cut red tape and give Courts more power to consider adoption as a permanent solution for neglected children as opposed to placing them in foster care. This would also serve to benefit the 18,000 plus children already in foster care, many of whom are placed in numerous homes during their time in care, by providing them with the opportunity to be placed in a permanent and stable environment.

The NSW Liberals and Nationals are also looking to establish Australia’s first Government-supported Institute of Open Adoption in an attempt in increase the number of adoptions within the state. The Institute aims to lead high quality independent research into open adoption to inform policy, professional, development and practice in the field.

The Institute has had the benefit of support from Deborra-lee Furness, a strong adoption advocate and a major catalyst for adoption reform in Australia.

Deborra-lee Furness is in Australia to continue to raise awareness about adoption and the proposed reforms during Adoption Awareness Week from 8 -14 November, 2015. As part of her continued efforts she will be speaking at our upcoming Women In Business event on Wednesday 11 November, 2015. Please click here for more details.