A UK couple’s torrid battle with the South Australian government sees the state poised to become the last in Australia to legalise same-sex adoption
While gay couples in Australia remain unable to marry, state governments have been steadily granting them the right to adopt children.
In November, the Queensland and South Australian parliaments both voted in favour of lifting state bans on same sex adoption. The South Australian reform is now being considered by their upper house. If passed, gay adoption will be legal in every Australian jurisdiction except the Northern Territory.
The debate in South Australia has been acrimonious. Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith slammed reforms
“We don’t say the A-word here anymore,” a social worker once told me when I dared to ask why there are hardly any adoptions in Australia. But, with our foster care system in crisis, it’s time to talk about an alternative option for the increasing number of children removed from their home due to abuse or neglect.
Adoption is so tainted by its dark history in Australia that it remains a taboo. To many, it conjures images of rich white couples sauntering into orphanages, picking out the cutest brown babies and whisking them away before the impoverished birth mothers know what’s happened.
In reality, many ordinary Australians spend years fighting bureaucracy and making sacrifices to earn the right to take care of traumatised children nobody else wants.
FORMER Western Bulldogs midfielder Brad Murphy chokes up as he talks about the childhood he kept hidden from fans and teammates.
The athletic 31-year-old doesn’t remember much about his mother. Not even the incident that led to her vanishing from his life.
Brad’s foster carer, Debby, told him that when he was four his mum came to pick him up, high on drugs, in a battered old sedan with an exhaust pipe dragging on the ground.
When we think of orphans, we think of children in far-flung places overseas. But in Australia today, there are more than 43,000 children who can’t live safely in their own home — removed due to abuse or neglect.
REBEKAH King was tagged with the nickname “government girl” at school.
As a ward of the state, she was shuffled between more than 20 homes. As an adult, she is asking the government to start listening to what kids want so they can avoid the horror childhood she experienced.
She was a toddler when her abusive mother dropped her off to the authorities, allegedly telling them she wanted “to kill” her daughter.
A 4-minute radio package for national current affairs show The Wire explored the issue of whether adoption should be made easier in Australia. Former AFL player Brad Murphy, who grew up in foster care, explains why he would’ve preferred to have been adopted. Former Adopt Change CEO Jane Hunt says adoption is very rare in Australia, and would like to see reform. But NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge believes adoption is not the answer.
At the heart of Australia’s biggest city is one of the more colourful races of the election campaign. The sitting Labor member for the Sydney electoral district is the federal deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek. Up against her is the Liberal party’s candidate, the 27-year-old openly gay Indigenous lawyer Geoffrey Winters, and the Greens candidate, Sylvie Ellsmore, who defies some preconceptions by being a meat-eating karate black belt.
JUST days before his 18th birthday, Dylan Langley, a cheerful blonde-haired Essendon fanatic, was told to start “looking for a homeless shelter”.
A joyous day in the life of most young Australians is actually the most terrifying for thousands who live in foster care or an orphanage. It’s the day they are evicted from care and forced to fend for themselves.