MORE support services need to be offered at a national level for families after adopting a child, an advocacy group says, citing concerns about the effects of a prolonged wait for citizenship.
Adopt Change chief executive Renée Carter’s comments come after Seven News presenter and former Bendigo Advertiser journalist Mike Amor called for the process of naturalising adopted children to be made easier.
“For children who have been through an extensive process to be legally recognised as part of their permanent family it can be emotionally difficult to face another barrier surrounding that sense of belonging, such as their citizenship,” Ms Carter said.
She said appropriate supports for families were vital in the adoptions process
“They work toward ensuring families are well supported and children have the opportunity to thrive,” Ms Carter said.
She said post-adoption services were largely available through departments at a state or territory level.
Citizenship is handled federally by the Department of Home Affairs.
The department distinguishes between a person claiming Australian citizenship by decent, and a child adopted outside Australia by an Australian citizen – a distinction Mr Amor would never apply to his son.
“Addison’s not my adopted son. He’s just my son who happens to be adopted… he’s just my boy,” he said.
“We still attach a stigma to being adopted in this country.
“We need to just re-look at how we enable families to be families in Australia.”
Ninety per cent of applications for Australian citizenship by decent are processed within four months, according to the department’s website.
But there are no processing times readily available for an application lodged on behalf of a child adopted outside Australia by an Australian citizen.
“If the person was adopted under arrangements made between the adoption authorities of two countries that have ratified the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the child may apply for Australian citizenship by adoption,” a department spokesperson said.
“A child adopted overseas under a private or domestic arrangement while their adoptive parent was resident overseas must apply for the appropriate visa to Australia.
“Should they subsequently be granted a permanent residence visa, they may then apply for Australian citizenship by conferral.”
More than 80 per cent of the 1053 respondents to research commissioned by Adopt Change in 2017 said the adoption process was complex and overwhelming.
Fifty-six per cent of the participants had experienced unexplained delays, and only 40 per cent were comfortable with the level of post-adoptive support available.
The Amor family had not anticipated difficulties in applying for Addison’s Australian citizenship, nor did they want other families to be caught up in red tape.
“I don’t think that process should take years,” Mr Amor said.
“Just give these children… my son… a fair go.”
Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters was contacted for comment.
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