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Family Law Blog

Thinking about adopting a child? Make sure you’re prepared!

Posted by Karina Ralston on 27 Oct 2015

Adopting a child is an exciting time in a person’s life. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of starting a family, or adding to your existing family but excitement can turn to frustration and disappointment when you encounter delays and difficulties with the system. This article outlines the processes and pitfalls you may come across in your adoption journey.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that there are different ‘types’ of adoption. Besides intrafamily adoption (which will be explored in my next blog), these are:

Intercountry Adoptions (Adopting a child from overseas)

Many families explore the option of adopting a child from another country. This type of adoption is handled through a Community Services program and there are many support agencies that provide assistance and information throughout the process. Waiting periods for intercountry adoption have increased in recent years due to improved local adoption systems and increased government regulations in many countries. However, for those willing to put time and effort into the process, this is a good option for many families.

One of the most common misconceptions that I’ve come across in adoption matters is the belief that any child can be adopted from any country provided the birth parents consent to the adoption. In fact, only certain countries are signatory to the ‘Hague Adoption Convention’. I’ve had clients face the heartache of not being able to adopt a child they’ve grown to love as the country they are in has not signed the convention.

If you‘re thinking about international adoption then plan ahead – make sure that the country is a signatory to the convention. View a list of countries.

Once you’ve established that the child you are seeking to adopt is from a country that is signatory to the Convention, you will then need to get in contact with their state’s respective central authority. View list of the state central state authorities in Australia.
Local Adoption

Very few children adopted within NSW are adopted to someone outside of their family. As such, there are extensive requirements and often a very long waiting period. The biological parents are able to specify the type of family they wish the child to be placed with. The preference is usually for a mother and a father so single parents and same sex couples can have increased difficulties adopting through this process.

What is commonly known as a ‘closed adoption’ is very uncommon in Australia. Families seeking to adopt must enter into the process with awareness that the biological parents may wish to maintain contact with their child.

Foster Care

Some families caring for a child for an extended period of time may consider adopting the child to provide more permanency and stability for both themselves and more importantly, the child.  This takes place through the local adoption process. View more information on becoming a foster carer.

Family and Community Services, as with many government departments and organisations, are woefully underfunded. Consequently, there are significant delays in this process. 

Adoption is a wonderful and rewarding process, for you and the child. It cements arrangements and relationships that are already in place and also creates new relationships and identities which increase individuals’ and families’ wellbeing. It is therefore important that you’re well prepared so that the complexity of the process and inevitable delays, don’t take away from the end goal of adopting a child. 

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