Intercountry adoption

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Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Intercountry Adoption) Bill 2014 (PDF)
Canberra, A.C.T. : Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, July 2014.

The Australian Citizenship Amendment (Intercountry Adoption) Bill 2014 aims to provide access to citizenship for children adopted by Australian citizens from specific countries who are not parties to the Hague Convention on Protection and Co-operation. The Senate has referred this Bill for inquiry and report. This submission, from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, notes recent research by the Institute on past 'closed' adoption practices and describes its implications for policy and service delivery in intercountry adoption.

Submission to Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet regarding making overseas adoption easier for Australian families.
Jordan T
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 8 no. 1 2014: 8p

This paper is an abridged version of submission to the Prime Minister's Committee to Review Intercountry Adoption. In this submission, Jigsaw Queensland outlines three principles that ought to dominate considerations in international adoption: accountability though openness and an honesty at all levels of practice, child-centred policy and practice (recognising the life-long impacts of adoption), and adequate provision of ongoing pre-adoption and post-adoption support.

The decline of intercountry adoption in Australia : will privatising the system make a difference?
Petersen S
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 8 no. 1 2014: 24p

Over the past decade there has been a rapid and consistent decline in numbers of children coming to Australia through intercountry adoption. This article considers the reasons behind this decline and whether privatising pre-adoption services would increase and improve intercountry adoption.

Reflections on inter-country adoption by a single professional parent.
Baker F
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 8 no. 1 2014: 7p

In this article, the author, a single, older, professional woman, reflects on her decision to adopt a baby from another country, and the impact it has had on their lives.

Orphans of Vietnam : a history of intercountry adoption policy and practice in Australia, 1968-1975.
Forkert J
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 8 no. 1 2014: 280p

This thesis presents a detailed historical analysis of the origins of the policy and practice of intercountry adoption - the legal adoption of children from overseas - in Australia. Efforts by Australian families to adopt children from overseas were made in the years immediately following the Second World War, but it was not until the Vietnam War that significant numbers of adopted children began to arrive in Australia. This thesis focuses on the period from 1968, when the first Vietnamese children were adopted, up until Operation Babylift in 1975, and examines the development of state and Commonwealth government policies towards intercountry adoption. Through an examination of the relationship between state and Commonwealth government authorities, international social welfare organisations, volunteer groups and individual adoptive parents, it argues that each phase of the development of adoption policy was shaped by broader political considerations, such as foreign affairs, defence and immigration policies, moreso than any consideration for the interests of the children themselves.

Intercountry adoption reform : a service provider's contribution to the debate.
Clare C
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 8 no. 1 2014: 21p

This paper is an abridged version of submission to the Prime Minister's Committee to Review Intercountry Adoption. In this submission, VANISH, the Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self-Help, urges the Prime Minister to ensure that any changes to adoption legislation, guidelines, policy, and service delivery are consistent with the best interests of the child and must override the desire of adults to be parents. They believe the best way to do this is for Australia to continue to only engage with countries who have ratified the Hague Convention and to implement the National Adoption Principles.

Do schools promote social inclusion? The experiences of intercountry adoptees in Australia.
Scarvelis B, Crisp B and Goldingay S
Journal of Social Inclusion v. 5 no. 1 2014: 61-77

Intercountry adoption programs have brought children from racially and culturally diverse backgrounds to live as Australians, including 30 children from Ransgit Children's Home who arrived in South Australia in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As part of a larger project which explored the life experiences of 12 adults who had arrived as children aged between 4 and 9 from Ransgit, this paper explores the role of schools in facilitating their inclusion into life in Australia. The school experience was often critical in learning English and was pre-requisite for acceptance in the school yard but also a place in which most of these Thai-born intercountry adoptees experienced racism. Despite very few participants completing secondary school, all had employment. However, many held jobs which were low-paying and which precluded them from participating in opportunities to return to Thailand to learn more about their Thai origins or participating as adoptive parents in intercountry adoption programs. Hence, while schools can play an important role in facilitating social inclusion, the school system alone may be unable to address the multiple dimensions of exclusion experienced by intercountry adoptees.

Report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Intercountry Adoption
Australia. Interdepartmental Committee on Intercountry Adoption
Canberra : Dept. of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2014.

This report outlines options for implementing reform within Australia to improve intercountry adoption. A number of options are given for immediate and long term reforms.

The changing context of adoption.
O'Neill C, 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.

Perfecting adoption? Reflections on the rise of offshore commercial surrogacy and family formation in Australia.
Cuthbert D and Fronek P
Hayes, Alan, ed. Higgins, Daryl J., ed. Families, policy and the law : selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia. Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2014. 9781922038487: 55-66

Australians are increasingly using offshore surrogacy arrangements to satisfy their desire to become parents. By comparing this rise in offshore surrogacy with the rise of intercountry adoption in the 1970s, this chapter argues that offshore surrogacy is the latest shift in a highly dynamic market for having children as part of family formation.

International surrogacy arrangements : legal regulation at the international level
Trimmings K and Beaumont P
Oxford : Hart Publishing, 2013.

This book is a resource for legal practitioners and policy makers interested in the proliferation of international surrogacy arrangements. Part 1 profiles particular arrangements in several countries, including Australia, and highlights the local challenges and incompatibilities that arise from international surrogacy arrangements. Part 2 provides a human rights perspective on the issues involved. The book concludes in part 3 by proposing a regulatory model to help address these issues.

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)

See more resources on Intercountry adoption in the AIFS library catalogue