Open adoption now a reality in NSW

10 Nov 2014

Recent changes to NSW child protection laws have made it easier for children who are unable to live with their parents to be adopted by a suitable family, Minister for Family and Community Services, Gabrielle Upton, said today.

At the beginning of National Adoption Awareness Week, Minister Upton said changes to adoption laws have streamlined processes for foster carers, step-parents, relatives or those wishing to adopt a child in NSW.

The new laws are part of the Safe Home for Life reform package that took effect on 29 October.

"The legislative changes emphasises the value of long-term stability for children in care, making children’s futures safer and secure," Minister Upton said.

"A stable family life results in better outcomes for children.

"When children cannot live safely at home with their parents, there are a range of options that will meet the needs of children, including placement with family members, or adoption by carers, which is a very permanent secure arrangement."

Ms Upton said, "Under the new laws, open adoption is one of the permanent placement options that must be considered before a non-Aboriginal child is placed in long-term foster care.

"In open adoption the child retains links with their birth family and other significant people in their lives where it is in their best interests. The new laws increase the involvement of birth parents in choosing the type of family they would like for their child and in the development of an adoption plan.

"Open adoption ensures children know their identity and wherever possible maintain relationships with their birth family.

"To support these principles the pathway to open adoption has been made clearer and more practical by removing unnecessary red tape, particularly where a child has already been living as part of the proposed adopted family for a long time.

"Over time, these changes should make open adoption easier and gradually increase the number of children in caring, loving families".

***Quick facts****

• During the last financial year 1July 2013 – 30 June 2014:
- 9 local adoption orders were made for children who were unrelated to the applicant. (i.e. children who were voluntarily placed for adoption, and not assumed into care)
- 82 children who were Parental Responsibility to the Minister were adopted by their authorised carers (generally non-related carers) - A further 2 children were adopted by non-related carers as Special Case adoptions.

• Since 2011 the numbers of OOHC care adoptions have increased.
-2010/11 - 45
-2011/12 - 65
-2012/13 - 78
-2013/14 – 82

• Open adoption is not suitable for all children in out of home care. An assessment to determine whether open adoption is in the child’s best interests must be completed in all cases in order to determine whether it is suitable to proceed in the individual circumstances.

• Open adoption is not usually considered suitable for Aboriginal children. Placement with a family member is usually a better option. Importantly, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles still apply.