Adoption in South Australia (email excerpt)
I would like to share this part of an email sent to me by a friend who corresponded with the South Australian state government, with permission. It is interesting to compare the differences between the "adoption industry" here and adoption as it is practiced in S.A. where mothers are protected from coercion. Oh yeah, teh mother interviews and chooses the adoptive parents after ther revocation period has ended. Thus they have NO personal influence upon her decision.
" As regards the request, I reckon the best thing would be to refer your contact to our web site at www.adoptions.sa.gov.au
If your contact clicks on to section 2 of the site (Placing a Child for Adoption) that has a good summary of counselling here in SA.
In general, you can say to your contact that we look at a number of things in counselling, including "what is the obstacle to this person/s parenting their child".
When we identify the obstacle/s, we then work with that, as any social worker might. For example, the issue obstructing the parent and child staying together might be domestic violence. So we would work with that.
In South Australia we have about 25 to 30 presentations per year of families who are considering relinquishing their children. As you know, only 3-6 of these will result in adoption. The main element is excellence in counselling to assist parents to come to an informed and thoroughly explored decision. We will look at as many aspects of the parent/s situation as possible including making significant attempts to help the parent/s look into the future, especially in relation to the child's future needs and wishes, as well as those of themselves and other significant family members. We are greatly informed about this, as you know, because of our work in relation to past adoptions.
We notice that very many people see their unplanned pregnancy in a dichotomy: "I can't parent this child-the child needs to be adopted as soon as possible". We are very interested in opening this up. There are very many other options to adoption, but people are panicked and aren't able to explore them. That is our job - to help explore. Very often, with things opened up and information provided, people discover that there are other solutions. Often, the solution is to parent the child after all.
Most local children who go to adoption in SA are somewhere between 4 to 6 months of age. Some may well be older than that. Occasionally they are younger. This length of time reflects the amount of time involved in counselling. While our law requires a minimum of 14 days after the birth of the child before the parent can consent, most parents are relieved to be told that this is a minimum and that they have plenty of time to work through what they need to do.
As regards how the information is given, we:
* Provide it through our web site, and refer all our clients to it who have web access
* Provide it in written form (booklet) - legal requirement
* Provide it verbally in counselling sessions and as often as required verbally
* Provide hard copy community resources (eg. CentaLink pamphlets; support agency pamphlets)
* Provide info re support and information services (hard copy and web sites through link to our web site)
* We may physically take parents to community resources (eg. parent support units)
We will also provide the above type information to anyone of significance in the case, eg grand parents. We also have check lists that we use during the counselling process and that we ask the parent to sign if they consent to the adoption. This check list covers all aspects of counselling that we think we should have covered (eg. have we thoroughly explored placement of the child within the extended family; have we fully explored social security payments? etc).
During the counselling process, we encourage contact between the parent/s and the child and generally use foster placements which facilitate the parents to visit the child in foster care. Sometimes, parents are able to have their child home for a weekend or spend a couple of days with their child, and this is often a land mark event. Some parents do not want to do this, but may visit with the child at our offices. We are aware that contact with the child is crucial and important, and we know that time is important for the parent/s to process these kinds of contacts.
We will definitely explore the issue of the father's involvement, even if the mother is saying "there isn't one" or she doesn't know where he is etc. Involvement of the father or possible father and discussing a child's right to his or her father is a significant part of our counselling, that is informed by part of our legislation.
We inform our clients that the counselling process is not an easy one and that they will find it challenging. We figure that for everyone's sake, we cannot leave any stone unturned in exploring this profound decision, knowing that in very many cases, families can overcome obstacles with help, support and information.
I hope this brief overview is helpful to your friend.
ADOPTION AND FAMILY INFORMATION SERVICE
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES "