Dignitaries will gather today at Australian Parliament House for the launch of a joint research report by Adopt Change and Western Sydney University. Belonging in two families: Exploring permanency options for children in long-term out-of-home care in Australia (opens in new window) is the first research report in the country to consider the views of people with a personal experience of foster care, kinship care and adoption on how to improve care models for children and young people who are unable to live with their family of origin due to abuse and neglect. The report introduces the concept of ‘Simple Adoption’ into the Australian context, where children retain a legal connection to their biological family in addition to their new legal status in their adoptive family.
“The study reveals that there is strong support to introduce Simple Adoption to the permanency continuum in Australia. Connections to family and identity are crucial for children and young people. A Simple Adoption order enables children in care, who are unable to live safely with their family of origin, to find the stability and nurture they need by providing them with legal connection to their carer family, while maintaining legal connections with their family of origin”, says Renée Carter, Chief Executive of Adopt Change.Carter adds Simple Adoption, as practiced in European countries such as France and Belgium, grants ongoing legal parental responsibility to adoptive parents, but honours connections legally with both biological families and adoptive families.
“To provide this form of a legal care order in Australia, for children in care unable to return home, would be revolutionary. It is a move forward in further recognising providing children and young people both legal stability and honouring connections,” says Carter.
Dr Stacy Blythe and Dr Karleen Gribble from Western Sydney University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, say the report accesses the feedback of key participants in adoption and foster care to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the existing care orders in Australia, along with exploring the views regarding the potential introduction of the Simple Adoption order.
“Adoptees, former foster children, birth parents, foster parents, adoptive parents and professionals working in foster care and adoption expressed dissatisfaction with the options currently available and strong support for exploring the introduction of the new potential form of permanency,” says Dr Blythe.
“The research has shown that it is again time for reform, and we believe this may lead to the biggest reform of adoption in Australia since the opening of records in the 1980s, by allowing a legal connection that reflects belonging in two families,” adds Dr Gribble.
- All states and territories to seek legal advice on how to effectively implement simple adoption within their jurisdiction;
- The development of a unified national approach to the introduction of simple adoption; and
- The introduction of a national agreement to establish appropriate post-permanency supports for children and young people who have experienced trauma and displacement.