Laurene Cox is a married, hard working Griffith woman known for her caring nature, and love of animals and children.
A few years ago, she wanted to adopt a child with her husband. But she encountered nothing but frustration.
“It all seemed so hard. There was no central place to get information… and the up front costs were very high”.
Aged in her 40s, Ms Cox was also told she was too old.
Ms Cox can't understand why adoption is so difficult in Australia, especially given there are now 46,000 children living in temporary out of home care – a number rising so fast that children at times are kept in motel rooms.
Just 70 children were adopted from care last year, and only two outside NSW.
A new report by advocacy group Adopt Change reveals the bizarre ways bureaucrats are stopping children from finding a permanent home.
Not only are prospective parents rejected on the basis of age and marital status, others are being told they are too fat.
The research highlights one case where a 25-year-old woman was told she could not adopt because her body mass index was too high, despite having run three triathlons in the previous year.
“It’s just ridiculous someone can be turned down for adoption for being slightly overweight,” Ms Cox said.
The report also highlights unhelpful child protection departments, long delays in processing applications and white foster parents being denied the right to adopt Aboriginal children in their care.
The NSW Government is the only state in Australia enacting reforms to make adoption easier, streaming processes and introducing payments for foster carers who adopt.
The reforms are motivated by terrible outcomes for children who grow up in foster care, with more than a third ending up homeless when they become adults, and many ending up in jail. Children who grow up in permanent adopted homes have much better outcomes.
The NSW reforms provides some hope for vulnerable children, and Ms Cox.
“I’d like to find out more, to see if the process is easier now. I think I have a lot to offer a child without a permanent home, and it would complete our family”.
If you’d like to share your experience or views on adoption or foster care, please email firstname.lastname@example.org