In Australia, we celebrate Adoption Awareness Week each year in November to raise awareness, provide education, and advocate about adoption.
Adoption in Australia is tightly controlled by the government and overseas adoption follows strictly the The Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). It basically aims to protect children and their families.
As such, in 2013-2014, there were only 317 children adopted from within Australia and from overseas. Currently, foster care is still the government’s preferred option in caring for kids who are at risk. This means that the legal guardian of the child is the relevant government minister until they reach the age of 18 or are returned to their parents. In adoption, the child is legally considered to be the child of the adoptive parents.
As a parent who has been blessed by adoption, I believe that children should be given an opportunity to live in an environment where there is love and an atmosphere of permanency. They need to know that whatever happens in their lives, they will still be loved and still belong to a family they can call their own.
I still live in hope that Australia will change some of their legislation to shorten the process, while still following the strict requirements of the Convention. This will encourage more couples to adopt children who are either in care locally or in orphanages overseas.
Here is a reflection I had one school holiday in 2012 on our way to enjoy the marvels of city parks:
“Sitting on the city train this morning with our two boys next to me, I realised how blessed I am and suddenly felt this blanket of joy, peace and fulfilment envelope me.
I felt affirmed of the decision my husband and I made fourteen years ago. But it was not easy for me. After trying to conceive for seven years, we finally decided it was time to take another step in our journey … to go through the adoption process. After two years, I really wanted to pull our application out. My husband convinced me otherwise. It was a long drawn process that took a total of about nine years for both of them to join our family.
Being a parent is not an easy task. Making decisions for the family is not easy. Even making a decision as to which school they should go to takes a lot of thinking, consulting, praying and discerning.
Although parenting is not an easy responsibility, I still believe my life is more meaningful, complete and satisfying, albeit tiring. I am grateful to the Lord for guiding us to choose this path of becoming a family.”
Today, our boys are 15 and 9 years old. We have experienced a kaleidoscope of emotions and events as we try our best to raise them to become good citizens and faithful followers of Christ. It is a huge challenge for us.
Adoption has definitely made our lives more profound, exciting, challenging, joyful, noisy, purposeful and meaningful.
As I reflect on our adoption journey this week – the long wait of four years for each child to officially join us, the feelings of not being able to care for kids, the fear of not being able to financially afford the processing fees, the fear of not being understood by relatives and friends, the fear of not being able to educate them, feed them and clothe them, and even some silly thoughts of “Can I make them grow up or grow tall?” – I still feel it was worth all the effort. I still believe we made the right decision. We just had to let go of these fears and let God guide us through the adoption process and parenting.
There are government and not for profit organisations involved in adoption services. So, if you are one of those people still on the fence thinking about adoption, try to visit or call an adoption agency in your area during this Adoption Awareness Week.