Parents who were approved before Labor closed the program in 2012 will finally have their adoptions recognised in Australia
Parents matched to children in Ethiopia through an adoption program shut down by Labor when it was in power will have the adoptions finalised by the Coalition.
The government will also broaden laws to make Australian adoption from Taiwan and South Korea easier.
The loosening of regulations will mean parents have a shorter wait after their adoption is approved in the other country. Currently it can take a year before Australia gives the final green light.
“This is a very good thing to make it easier for families to adopt from overseas,” prime minister Tony Abbott said. “Kids without parents go to parents without kids. It’s a win-win situation. At the moment, if you adopt from those countries you not only have court processes overseas, you’ve got court processes here in Australia.”
The Ethiopian intercountry adoption program was permanently closed in June 2012 by the attorney general at the time, Nicola Roxon. It will remain closed but the families who had been approved and were waiting for the adoption to be finalised will have their adoptions recognised in Australia.
Abbott said the changes would make it “much easier” for the families who had been stuck in limbo.
At least seven families were waiting for their adoptions to be finalised when the program was closed, according to the Australian, though the Labor party initially said there were no adoptions in the pipeline at the time.
A spokeswoman for the prime minister’s office said it was aware of three families in the program who were definitely eligible to have their adoptions finalised.
South Korea and Taiwan are not signatories to the Hague convention, so instead of having their adoption recognised immediately under Australian law parents need to get an adoption order in Australia.
Under the changes, the adoptions will be recognised automatically and the citizenship process will begin as soon as the child arrives in Australia.
Actor Deborra-Lee Furness, the founder of the organisation Adoption Awareness, has been campaigning for changes to Australia’s adoption laws to make it easier to adopt. The prime minister’s office contacted her on Monday to let her know about the proposed changes.
“Yes, I gather she is quite excited,” Abbott said. “Look, for dozens and dozens of families this is very, very good news because what could be better than giving an orphan child the love of parents? And that’s what we’re all about here.”