The number of children adopted in Australia each year has reached a record low-adoptions fell by 9% overall in 2000-01, according to a report published today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Adoptions Australia 2000-01 shows there were a total of 514 adoptions in Australia in 2000-01, 52 less than in 1999-00, and far from a peak of nearly 10,000 in 1971-72.
Co-author of the report, Susan Kelly, said the decline in the total number of adoptions for 2000-01 was mostly due to a fall in the number of local adoptions and the number of children adopted by relatives or guardians ('known child' adoptions).
'During this period, there were 88 local adoptions compared with 106 in the previous year, and 137 'known child' adoptions compared with 159 in the previous year,' Ms Kelly said.
'Changing attitudes to single parenthood, changing practices to discourage adoptions by relatives, and policies that encourage the permanent placement of children rather than adoption were the main reasons for the decline in adoptions of Australian children.'
'The number of intercountry adoptions also decreased by 4% from 301 in 1999-00 to 289 in 2000-01.'
Intercountry adoptions included 51 children adopted under the 1998 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The Convention establishes uniform adoption procedures among its 40 signatory countries, and safeguards children's best interests.
The major countries of origin in 2000-01 were South Korea (75), India (40), Ethiopia (37) and Thailand (35).
There were 4,304 applications for information about past adoptions in 2000-01 (a fall of 14% from the 5,008 lodged in the previous year). Most (71%) of these applications were made by the adopted person, with 18% of applications made by the birth parents and 7% by other birth relatives.