Australian research on intercountry adoption in Australia is reported with particular reference to social work, divergent and competing interests of various stakeholders, and the highly political and contested nature of its practice in Australia. The practice of intercountry adoption in Australia is examined from its diffusion into Australia in the 1970s to contemporary times. Government approved Australian intercountry adoption programs began operation in the 1970s and although always small in number, the recent decline is consistent with global trends. Intercountry adoption in Australia is regulated by state and federal governments and social workers are integral to its practice. Controversies surrounding intercountry adoption in Australia have historically been linked to pressure from lobbyists and the support of some politicians. In 2014, Australia was at a crucial juncture with changes to how intercountry adoption is structured under review by the federal government.
Karen Smith Rotabi
The practice of intercountry adoption is first considered from a historical framework, beginning with World War II, to other conflicts throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. In this historical overview, factors that contributed to the rise of the global circulation of children for adoption in the 20th century are discussed, as well as efforts for reform in the 21st century in response to problems of abuse, fraud, and exploitation and the development of policies to regulate intercountry adoption and ultimately protect children. Specifically, The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is presented from a social justice perspective, using Guatemala as a case example, as well as relevant U.S. policies regulating intercountry adoption practices. Finally, direct practice considerations for social workers are discussed. These include pre- and post-adoption issues to support families and children through the intercountry adoption process and across the child’s lifespan with considerations for trans-racial adoptions and the unique child-family support issues. In conclusion, the significant decline in the practice is reflected upon pragmatically; the need for true reform in the practice is necessary to preserve intercountry adoption for orphaned and vulnerable children.