While the number of children adopted from overseas continues to drop, adoptions involving Australian children are increasing, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Adoptions Australia 2012-13, shows that 210 of the 339 finalised adoptions in
2012-13 were of children who were born or permanently residing in Australia, an increase of 26 such adoptions from the previous year, and the highest number on record since 2002-03.
‘This rise can be largely attributed to the rise in adoptions by carers, such as foster parents, in New South Wales, which can be linked to recent policy changes in that state,’ said AIHW spokesperson Pamela Kinnear.
The 81 adoptions in 2012-13 by ‘known’ carers, such as foster parents, represented a 10 year high for this type of adoption and was more than triple the 25 such adoptions in 2003-04.
The number of finalised intercountry adoptions has dropped for most countries of origin in recent years. However, the number from Taiwan has increased substantially-from 3 adoptions in 2003-04 to 37 in 2012-13.
‘Of the 129 adoptions of children from overseas, 37 (29%) came from Taiwan, making Taiwan the main country of origin for Australian intercountry adoptions for the first time,’ Dr Kinnear said.
The report also indicated some continuing trends in intercountry adoptions.
Processing times for intercountry adoptions continued to rise, reaching a median time of 61 months (just over 5 years) in 2012-13, up from 37 months (around 3 years) in 2007-08.
‘While Australian Central Authorities have maintained or improved the time taken to complete aspects of intercountry adoption they are responsible for, processing times are affected by factors such as the number and characteristics of children in need of adoption, the number of applications received and resources of the overseas authority,’ Dr Kinnear said.
‘These are all factors outside the control of Australian authorities.’
Although the majority of children adopted from overseas were aged under 5 (78%), the proportion of infants under 12 months has continued to decline-from a peak of 47% of all intercountry adoptions finalised in 2005-06 to just 19% in 2012-13.
In contrast, Australian children who were the subject of a finalised local adoption in 2012-13 tended to be younger than those adopted from other countries-all were aged under 5 and almost half (48%) were infants.
The vast majority (87%) of local adoptions also continued to be ‘open’ adoptions-that is, all parties were happy to allow a degree of contact or information exchange to occur between families.