'Amazing family': Adoption rates rise in NSW

Moreau Family

The Moreaus with three-year-old Christian. Photo: Steven Siewert

Felicity and Adam Moreau tried to conceive for 10 years before becoming one of a growing number of families to adopt a child from foster care last financial year.

The couple from Erskine Park, near Penrith, became foster carers through Barnardos for Christian, 3, when he was a baby - and the paperwork for his adoption was finalised in March.

"There are these little kids that need a loving home and the end result is that we've got Christian here with us," Ms Moreau said. "We're very lucky to have the support of his birth families as well, so he's just got this amazing extended family that love him to bits."

All adoption in NSW is open adoption, whereby the children grow up knowing their birth families. There are very few local adoptions where birth parents proactively give up the baby at birth.

The figures published last week by the NSW government show 162 carer adoptions in 2019-20, up from 142 the previous year. In total, 16,884 children and young people were in foster and other out-of-home care as of June 30.

Two years ago the government passed laws to make it easier to adopt children, capping out-of-home care at two years before caseworkers seek a permanent home. In 2015-16 there were just 67 adoptions from out-of-home care.

Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show NSW accounts for more than nine out of 10 carer adoptions in Australia.

The Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward, said the soaring number of adoptions was good news for children. "Every child deserves the security of a safe and loving home where they can grow, thrive and reach their full potential," Mr Ward said.

He said the government's first priority was early intervention to stop children from entering care in the first place. This had resulted in a 42 per cent fall in children entering out-of-home care since 2015-16 and a 35 per cent fall in Aboriginal children and young people entering care in the same period.

The government's reforms in 2018 raised the spectre of another stolen generation, since parents do not need to give consent and Indigenous children are disproportionately represented in out-of-home care. The state's peak body for Indigenous children and families, AbSec, opposed the reforms, as did Labor and the Greens.

The Family Is Culture report led by Professor Megan Davis, delivered to government in October, recommended legislative change to ensure adoption is not an option for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care. Mr Ward this month announced reforms, including the appointment of an Aboriginal Deputy Children's Guardian.

(First seen in the Sun Herald)

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