The following document was circulated in 2010 for comment:
NATIONAL MINIMUM PRINCIPLES IN ADOPTION 2010
These principles are intended to underpin adoption laws, policies and practices in Australia. They are high level aspirational statements intended to guide ethical decision-making for domestic and intercountry adoption. These principles acknowledge that adoption is one of a range of options that can provide permanency for a child. They reflect principles and obligations arising under domestic and international law to safeguard and protect children and in particular the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption.
1. Children who cannot be raised within their birth families should be raised in a permanent, secure, safe and loving family environment. Adoption can provide this permanency.
2. The lifelong best interests of the child are the paramount consideration in all adoption practices.
3. Adoptions should only take place with respect to the child’s fundamental rights as recognised under domestic and international law.
4. Adoption, as provided for in Australian law, is not a traditionally accepted form of child care within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, although Island custom includes a customary child-rearing practice that is similar to adoption. The adoption of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children must recognise the principles of self-determination arid self-management and of community responsibility for Aboriginal and Islander children.
5. Intercountry adoption may offer the advantage of a permanent family to a child for whom a suitable family cannot be found in his or her country of origin.
6. Measures focused on maintaining information and connection with all parties should be promoted, including the child’s connections with their birth family, community and culture.
7, Measures should be taken to provide support for families and children which allow for children to be raised within their family network, and their own community and country.
8. An adoption should not occur unless informed consent is freely given by the child’s parents and/or legal guardian or legally dispensed with. Consents to adoption are not to be given before or shortly after the child’s birth or until sufficient time has elapsed for the parent to reflect following the provision of information and counselling The age appropriate views and/or consent of the child are to be sought and afforded due weight.
9. Undue delay in making a decision in relation to the adoption of a child is likely to prejudice the child’s welfare.
10. All adoption arrangements must be made through competent authorities in accordance with the jurisdiction’s laws and policies, with respect for their processes and decision-making. If the adoption is an intercountry adoption, then the principles of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption must be applied
11. Prospective adoptive parents should be assessed as suitable to adopt the particular child. Prospective adoptive parents should be adequately prepared and have the capacity to provide support and meet the needs of the child through to independence.
12. Openness and honesty in adoption and access to information should be promoted taking into consideration the sensitivities and views of all parties to an adoption.
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