Australian Outcomes of Open Adoption study

Service design snapshots
Wednesday 25 July


Susan Tregeagle
Barnardos Australia

Adoption is increasingly used to find stability for children in out-of-home care, yet we know from AIFS research that closed adoption of the past has been problematic for many adoptees and their families. Recent research, on 26 years of open adoption in NSW, describes the adversity which children adopted from welfare care have faced and points to the need for strong preparation for adoptive parents.
Adoptees today have experienced a very high rate of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) within their birth families – these factors are known to be associated with poor life outcomes. Furthermore, welfare system decision makers have exposed many them to protracted periods between first notification and entry to care, failed restorations and kin carers, and multiple foster care placement breakdowns. Many have been separated from their siblings and some have diagnosed health problems and disabilities. All of these factors paint an overall picture of extreme vulnerability and it is essential that families are well prepared for these children. The paper will report on the overall stability of placements will include the views of adoptive families about the level of support that they would have liked and identify where assistance may have been useful.