Intercountry adoption

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The changing context of adoption.
O'NeillC, Ban P and Gair S
Rice, Simon, ed. Day, Andrew, ed. Social work in the shadow of the law. 4th ed. Annandale, NSW : Federation Press, 2014. 9781862879492: 26-46

This text book explores social work practice in different legal contexts in Australia. This chapter looks at adoption. It describes the development of adoption in Australia, the legal and policy context, different types of adoption, and adoption as part of the continuum of out of home care. It includes a case study of traditional adoption practices among Torres Strait Islanders and discusses the issue of access to adoption information by adoptees and birth parents.

Adoptions Australia 2012-13.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2013.

This report contains comprehensive information on adoptions in Australia, including the characteristics of adopted children, adoptive families and birth mothers. It also reports on the processing times for intercountry adoption, as well as on applications and vetoes lodged by parties to adoptions concerning contact and information exchange. During 2012-13, there were 339 finalised adoptions across Australia. Among these adoptions: 46% were 'known' child adoptions, 38% were intercountry, and 16% were local; 84% of intercountry adoptees came from Asia; 52% of 'known' adoptions were by carers, such as foster parents; 51% of adopted children were aged under 5. (Publisher abstract)

The market in babies : stories of Australian adoption
Quartly M, Swain S and Cuthbert D
Clayton, Vic. : Monash University Publishing, 2013.

This book describes the history of adoption in Australia through the words and experiences of those involved. From baby smuggling to international surrogacy, from forced adoption to international child rescue, this book looks at the personal face of the rise and fall in the demand for babies and the right - or otherwise - to have children.

Adoption of children in Queensland and in England : culture or compromise.
Dowding S and Lovecy C
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 7 no. 3 2013: 13p

The article compares 'adoption from care' law and policy between England and Australia, with particular reference to the perceived importance of cultural matching and the best interests of the child in cases where it is unsafe for a child to remain with their parents.

The back door in : private immigration bills and transnational adoption to the US 1945-1961.
Balcom K
28 May 2013

In the fifteen years following the Second World War, US legislators created the legal framework for transnational adoption to the United States through various pieces of legislation which were part of a larger series of debates over the shape and intention of US immigration policy in this period. There were many stops, starts, proposals and controversies along the way. At the same time, there was a backdoor for the admission of adopted or to-be adopted children through the hundreds of private immigration laws passed by Congress to allow the admission of children who could not qualify under the existing legislative framework. Dr Balcom's research highlights the stories of adopting families, of relinquishing families and of children pulled apart and thrown back together in new familial arrangements in the aftermath of world war, civil war, poverty and dislocation.

Choosing intercountry adoption : an Australian study of the motivations and attitudes of intending and recent adoptive parents.
Young A
Australian Journal of Social Issues v. 47 no. 2 2012: 221-241

Humanitarian reasons are often reported as the main motivating force for undertaking intercountry adoption. This article reports on a qualitative interview-based Australian study in which 32 adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents talk frankly about their desire to use intercountry adoption as a pathway to parenthood, rather than as an altruistic method of providing a child with a family. The study aimed to investigate motivations of intending and recent adoptive parents for deciding to form a family through intercountry adoption and to contribute to understanding about why intercountry adoption is the preferred option over available alternatives for family formation. The findings from this study raise interesting questions regarding recruitment efforts for children needing families; not only in relation to intercountry adoption, but also in developing recruitment strategies for foster carers for local children needing care.

A study of Australian intercountry adoption : choosing applicants to parent.
Young A
Australian Social Work v. 65 no. 4 Dec 2012: 490-503

Australian families are changing and parenthood is increasingly being seen as an individual choice. One important arena for exercising such choice is adoption, which today takes place across national boundaries in the form of intercountry adoption. This is now the predominant type of adoption in Australia. In order to reach their goal of parenthood, individuals choosing intercountry adoption must undergo an education and assessment process. This paper presents the findings from research undertaken as part of a larger doctoral study, with prospective intercountry adoptive parents, intercountry adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and support group representatives living in Australia. Three groups were found to exist in relation to the intercountry adoption assessment process: embracers, acceptors, and pragmatists. Factors influencing each group are discussed and suggestions for strengthening the role and efficacy of education and assessment in the selection of Australian intercountry adoptive parents are recommended.

Adoptions Australia 2011-12.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012.

This report contains comprehensive information relating to adoptions in Australia, including characteristics of adopted children, adoptive families and birth mothers. For the first time, the report also contains information on the processing times for intercountry adoption. During 2011-12 there were 333 finalised adoptions across Australia; the lowest annual number on record. Among these: 45% were intercountry, 17% were local, 39% were 'known' child adoptions, 58% of adopted children were aged under 5, 86% of intercountry adoptees came from Asia, and 54% of 'known' adoptions were by carers, such as foster parents. (Publisher abstract)

'It's quite a journey' : Australian parents' experience of adopting older children from overseas orphanages.
Alessia K and Roufeil L
Children Australia v. 37 no. 4 Dec 2012: 161-169

Intercountry adoption, often of children post-infancy, is one way of forming a family in Australia. However, few studies have invited Australian parents who have incorporated older children into their family to tell their story. Fathers are under-represented in studies of parenting generally and adoptive parenting specifically. As part requirement for a clinical psychology dissertation, with ethics approval from the relevant university, 28 parents (13 fathers and 15 mothers) were interviewed about their experiences of adopting children over the age of 24 months from orphanages in China, Ethiopia, India and Thailand. Although parents' experiences and recollections were diverse, almost all parents had been confronted by difficult child behaviours, at least initially. Contrary to previous research, the child's gender, age or duration of institutional care did not appear related to parental experience. Six major themes emerged from parent interviews: (1) the long wait and intense emotions of adoption; (2) disparity between expectations and reality; (3) recognition of children's difficult past experiences; (4) parenting as a path to self-discovery; (5) the perception of needing to present as coping; and (6) unmet needs. Mothers blamed themselves for their children's behavioural problems, rather than attributing difficulties to children's previous adverse life events. Both mothers and fathers were reluctant to use support services because they felt scrutinised and feared repercussions, and those who sought assistance generally found professionals ill-informed and unhelpful. Parents made recommendations about how the adoptive parenting process could be improved and expressed a strong desire for more information, both pre- and post-placement.

The trafficking of children in the Asia-Pacific
Joudo J
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2011.

Children are vulnerable to many forms of abuse and exploitation and have long been victims of trafficking for the purpose of both sexual and labour exploitation. There has been some analysis of trafficking of children in Asia, where trafficking persists despite significant prevention efforts, however, comparatively little is known about trafficking in the Pacific. Given that over one-third of the population in the Pacific region is under 15 years of age, anecdotal reports of circumstances which may amount to trafficking raise concerns for the large youth population in the Pacific Islands. Further, although there have been no prosecutions for child trafficking in Australia, the risk experienced by children within the Asia-Pacific region is relevant to responses in Australia and in supporting the development of improved inter-country responses across the region. This paper examines current definitions of child trafficking, the forms that it is known to take in Asia and the Pacific, the factors which increase vulnerability to trafficking and the mechanisms for the protection of children from this crime. (Publisher abstract)

Adoptions Australia 2010-11.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011.

This report contains comprehensive information relating to adoptions in Australia, including characteristics of adopted children, adoptive families and birth mothers. During 2010-11 there were 384 finalised adoptions across Australia - the lowest annual number on record. Of these adoptions: 56% were intercountry, 12% were local and 32% were 'known' child adoptions; 62% of adopted children were under 5 years of age; the majority of intercountry adoptees came from Asia (80%). The three most common countries of origin in Asia were China (24%), the Philippines (17%), and Taiwan (12%). Ethiopia was the most common country of origin outside the Asian region (19%). (Publisher abstract)

Exploring ethical dilemmas in development practices linked to Intercountry Adoption : an Ethiopia-Australia case study.
Petersen S
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 3 no. 1 2011: 29p

Intercountry adoption has been an increasing global phenomenon over the last thirty years, and is the subject of ethical debate on a range of issues. This paper explores the complexities surrounding humanitarian aid linked to overseas adoption programs, with a focus on the Australian-Ethiopian context. In 2009 Ethiopia requested Australia's adoption program engage in development assistance. Consequently the program was placed under suspension while it was explored whether this could be done in a manner consistent with the framework and intention of 'The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption'. This paper concludes that countries receiving children through intercountry adoption have a moral obligation to support developing countries from which children are adopted. It is argued that this is supported within international legal frameworks and conventions. At the same time, it is recognised that provision of aid linked to adoption programs may increase the inherent risks of solicitation of children, without the implementation of systems-based protections.

Anxiety among an Australian sample of young girls adopted from China.
Elliott A and McMahon C
Adoption Quarterly v. 14 no. 3 Jul/Sep2011: 161-180

The current research is inconsistent on whether intercountry adoptees experience increased internalizing problems. This article examines the incidence and development of anxiety in young girls in Australia who were adopted from China. Based on surveys with parents of girls aged from 3 to 8, it investigates anxiety symptomology in adoptees, as compared to Australian-born children, and then examines the associations between child anxiety and child and parent characteristics. These include separation anxiety in particular, child temperament, child age at adoption and length of time in adoption placement, parent anxiety and depression, parent stress, and parent education.

Towards a sociology of Australian intercountry adoption. (PDF)
Young A
Velayutham, S., ed. Ebert, N., ed. Watkins, S., ed. Social causes, private lives : TASA 2010 conference proceedings : the annual conference of The Australian Sociological Association : 6-9 December, Macquarie University, Sydney. Canberra : TASA, 2010. 9780646546285: 10p

Discussions in the literature on family life have moved away from consideration of what constitutes a particular family type to a broader discussion about relationships between men, women and children in family groups. Although the trend in the literature is towards looking at the family in terms of relationships of choice, little attention has been given to families formed through adoption and intercountry adoption which are good examples of people using choice to form families. This research investigates the interaction between the general trends in family life and intercountry adoption and confirms that relationships of choice are being formed in postmodern society, despite messages from a variety of authorities regarding family life which are often mixed, contradictory and dominated by particular family types, rather than by the concept of choice.

One Door : a unified approach for caregivers.
Smith S and Sturmfels D
Children Australia v. 35 no. 2 2010 Special issue on Adoption, fostering, permanent care and beyond: 43-47

New Zealand currently operates separate doors and different entry pathways for people wishing to adopt, foster or offer permanent care for a child. This presentation outlines the work now underway to develop a unified application, preparation, assessment, training and support system for applicants wishing to care for a child, whether by adoption, guardianship or as a transitional (foster) caregiver. Placing the child at the centre, One Door uses a framework comprised of six core attributes for parenting a child not born to you: safety; attachment; resilience; identity; integrity; and support. A challenge for the One Door design team will be the application of the model to the family/whanau caregiver whose entry into the care system is, in the main, through necessity not desire.

Controversy and its implications for the practice of contemporary social work in intercountry adoptions : a Korean-Australian case study.
Fronek P and Tilse C
Australian Social Work v. 62 no. 4 Dec 2010: 445-459

Korean-Australian intercountry adoption has been practiced for 30 years. This longevity provides unique opportunities to develop critical perspectives on a complex, global practice. This paper presents understandings drawn from a study that explores Korean intercountry adoption using Actor Network Theory. It argues that the practice of intercountry adoption in Australia has been shaped by adoption-driven influences and characterised by controversy and competing discourses. It concludes that contemporary understandings necessitate a global, contextual, and critical view that is inclusive of emerging voices and alternate discourses. The challenge for practitioners and policy makers is to ensure the complex nature of the phenomenon is understood by all stakeholders. This will involve remaining child-focused, promoting multilevel interventions, incorporating research findings, and resisting wholly positive discourse that promotes singular perspectives. An awareness of how the internet is used to forge networks and promote discourses is crucial in ensuring multiple perspectives are considered in this contentious practice field.

Adoptions Australia 2009-10.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010.

This report contains comprehensive information relating to adoptions in Australia, including characteristics of adopted children, adoptive families and birth mothers. During 2009-10 there were 412 finalised adoptions across Australia - the lowest annual number recorded since reporting commenced. Of these adoptions: 54% were intercountry, 15% were local and 31% were 'known' child adoptions; 65% of adopted children were aged less than 5 years. The majority of intercountry adoptees came from the Asian region (82%). The three most common countries of origin in Asia were the Philippines (22%), China (14%), and South Korea (14%). Ethiopia was the most common country of origin outside the Asian region (15%). (Publisher abstract)

Maternal experiences of inter-country adoptions : implications and challenges : reflections on inter-country adoptions.
Mateljan L and Priddis L
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 2 no. 2 2010: 27p

The number of inter-country adoptions in Australia has tripled over the last 25 years and research into the experiences of those parents, children, and families involved has failed to keep pace. Research from the field indicates that inter-country adoptees are vulnerable for a range of emotional, behavioural, psychological and social issues across the lifespan. One emerging protective factor is the capacity of the parent to reflect on both their own internal world and that of their infants. It has also been suggested that the unique transitional process to adoptive parenthood impacts on the adopted child's adjustment to adoption. This paper reports the findings of a recent West Australian qualitative study in which 20 mothers of inter-country adopted children whose average age at adoption was 12 months were interviewed. The Parent Development Interview modified for use with adoptive parents and an interview about the adoption process provided opportunity for qualitative analysis of the nature and quality of maternal reflections. Results are discussed in the context of implications for those working to improve the emotional world of adopted children and their families. Limitations of the study and suggestions for further research are made.

Social justice, human rights, past adoption discourse and inter-country adoption.
Gair S
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 2 no. 2 2010: 10p

Inter-country adoption often is talked about under a banner of human rights, and identified as a humanitarian responsibility to abandoned orphans. Raising broader social justice questions about inter-country adoption can bring forth accusations of being 'anti-adoption'. Yet embracing open and vigorous debate regarding inter-country adoption could allow multiple stories to be voiced. In this opinion piece some commonalities across early child welfare policies in Australia are noted, a brief history of adoption is outlined, and some suggestions are made for advancing social justice in inter-country adoption.

Adoptions Australia 2008-09.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010.

During 2008-09, there were 441 adoptions across Australia (one more than in 2007-08): - 61% were intercountry adoptions, 15% were local and 24% were 'known' child adoptions - 71% of all intercountry adoptions were from China, South Korea, the Philippines and Ethiopia - 71% of adopted children were aged less than 5 years. This report contains comprehensive information relating to adoptions in Australia, including characteristics of adopted children, adoptive families and birth mothers. (Publisher abstract)

Inter country adoption in Australia (PDF)
Martin D
Melbourne, Vic. : International Social Service Australia, 2009

This background paper provides an overview of intercountry adoption in Australia. Information is included on: international agreements, trends in the number of intercountry adoptions, intercountry adoption programs, child country of origin, child age, the impact of the 1993 Hague Convention on intercountry adoption, the role of federal and state authorities, and the adoption process. Contact details are provided for the federal and state central authorities.

Well-being and identity of adolescent and adult intercountry adoptees and non-adopted migrants in Western Australia.
Rosenwald T, Garton A and O'Connor M
Spark, Ceridwen, ed. Cuthbert, Denise, ed. Other people's children : adoption in Australia. North Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 9781921509469 : 257-273

A discussion of the well being and identity of adolescent and adult intercountry adoptees as compared with their non adopted migrant peers in Western Australia is provided in this chapter. An examination of the influence of non Caucasian physical features and minority group membership on well being and identity is also included. Both the research methods and findings of the research undertaken by the author break new ground in the understanding of intercountry adoption in relation to adoptees' well being and identity. The chapter highlights the gaps in local Australian knowledge about adoption and its outcomes, as well as the need for further research.

The celebrity adoptions phenomenon: emerging critiques from 'ordinary' adoptive parents.
Willing I
Spark, Ceridwen, ed. Cuthbert, Denise, ed. Other people's children : adoption in Australia. North Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 9781921509469 : 241-256

Reflecting on the relationship between celebrity and ordinary adoptions, the author explores how 'ordinary' adoptive parents respond to the intense media attention directed towards celebrity adopters, such as Angelina Jolie and Madonna. The chapter aims to explore the emerging critical perspectives that adoptive parents have developed towards recent media stories about celebrity adoptions, and the impact that the media attention has on the lives of 'ordinary' adoptive parents.

Australian intercountry adoptees' diverse experiences returning to the 'homeland'.
Gray K
Spark, Ceridwen, ed. Cuthbert, Denise, ed. Other people's children : adoption in Australia. North Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 9781921509469 : 222-240

This chapter provides insights into the experiences of intercountry adoptees. The author considers the diverse experiences of intercountry adoptees who travel to the place of their birth. In particular, the return journey experiences of three groups of adoptees are considered: an adult group of Vietnamese adoptees; an adolescent group of Korean adoptees; and a group of younger adoptees and their families. Looking at adoptees who made these trips at different times in their lives, she argues that adoptees' 'return' experiences need to be placed historically and socio culturally if their complexity is to be understood.

More than a Korean adoptee: making sense of identity and adoption in South Korea and adoptive countries.
Walton J
Spark, Ceridwen, ed. Cuthbert, Denise, ed. Other people's children : adoption in Australia. North Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 9781921509469 : 207-221

What does it mean to be an intercountry adoptee raised in a family, usually with white adoptive parents, in a country which may see itself as a multicultural one, but still views people who are not white as outsiders? This chapter provides insights into the experiences of intercountry adoptees. The author explores how adult Korean adoptees experience their identities in situated contexts of belonging and 'otherness' in South Korea and their adoptive countries respectively.

Ten thousand journeys: a brief demographic survey of intercountry adoption in Australia.
Rosenwald T
Spark, Ceridwen, ed. Cuthbert, Denise, ed. Other people's children : adoption in Australia. North Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 9781921509469 : 197-206

In this chapter the author provides a brief demographic survey of 30 years of intercountry adoption (ICA) in Australia. She reports on her own original demographic research, and fills some of the gaps in the data on the numbers of ICAs in Australia, the countries of origin of these children and their destinations. Also provided is the estimated number of ICAs to Australia in relation to domestic adoptions within Australia during the same period.

Race privilege and its role in the 'disappearance' of birth families and adoptive children in debates over non-heterosexual adoption in Australia.
Riggs D
Spark, Ceridwen, ed. Cuthbert, Denise, ed. Other people's children : adoption in Australia. North Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 9781921509469 : 161-175

This chapter considers the matter of accountability in adoption, and explores issues of race privilege germane to the rights claims of white Australian lesbians and gay men seeking access to international adoption. The author brings together three interconnected issues that require ongoing attention in research on intercountry and domestic adoption by white non heterosexual Australians: how 'best interests' often ignore children's voices in the rush to normalise particular family forms; how calls for rights to intercountry adoption typically only allow birth parents to 'appear' as 'bad' parents in comparison to 'good' adoptive parents; and how an alternative understanding of adoption and accountability may begin the work of rethinking adoption in ways that emphasise globally orientated understandings of family.

The hidden tragedy of the white stolen generation and its consequences : perspectives on adoption in Australia from a mother of the white stolen generation.
Cole C
Spark, Ceridwen, ed. Cuthbert, Denise, ed. Other people's children : adoption in Australia. North Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 9781921509469 : 110-126

In this chapter the contemporary politics of adoption are examined and information provided by the activism and testimonies of birth mothers. Parallels between the conditions of contemporary intercountry adoption and domestic adoption in Australia are highlighted. The author argues that where the adoption of children is driven by market forces and seen as a service to adoptive parents, it risks producing great harm to both children and families. The author calls for full accountability by the Australian community for wrongs committed in past adoption practices to avoid the continuation of these into the future.

'Society moves to make its own solutions' : re-thinking the relationship between intercountry and domestic adoption in Australia.
Spark C and Cuthbert D
Spark, Ceridwen, ed. Cuthbert, Denise, ed. Other people's children : adoption in Australia. North Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 9781921509469 : 55-72

This chapter examines the divergent histories of domestic and intercountry adoption in Australian since the 1970s. The authors also suggest ways in which returning to this history might help reframe adoption in the present with a focus on the needs of children, as distinct from the desires of adults.

Intercountry adoption in Australia : a natural evolution or purposeful actions.
Fronek P
Spark, Ceridwen, ed. Cuthbert, Denise, ed. Other people's children : adoption in Australia. North Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 9781921509469 : 37-54

Focusing on the rise and development of intercountry adoption (ICA) in Australia, the author presents findings from a larger work that addresses gaps in knowledge regarding the broader political, social and economic contexts in which ICA occurs. She discusses the development of adoption from Korea into Queensland during the 1970s, and offers insight into the interactions between various proponent and opponent groups and their influence on government and popular opinion in the growth of ICA.

See more resources on Intercountry adoption in the AIFS library catalogue

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