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“I'd been through so many placements and so if anyone came to the door, I would go hide in my room.” – Brendan, 15.

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Brothers Brendan, 15, and Shannon, 13, were born to a drug-addicted mother. They never felt safe living with foster carers and would hide whenever a stranger came to the door, worried they would be taken away again. Brendan says his fear subsided when he was adopted and had a permanent home.

At age 12, Khaled pushed for his own adoption, even though he still has a good relationship with his biological mum.

Over the past few decades, local adoptions have substantially declined.

But the NSW Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward is pushing for more kids in care to be adopted – a move that could transform the adoption landscape across the country.

She tells Insight that parents whose kids have been removed should be given a limited timeframe “to turn their life around”, and that adoption should be prioritised above foster care.

Some parents like “Katelin” think this process is unrealistic and unfair to biological parents. Katelin was drug-addicted when her child was removed. It took her three years to get clean and win her child back.

This week, Insight hears directly from children who have been in care, biological mothers, and adoptive parents about the challenges they have faced. We ask: should it be easier to adopt Australian children in care? And how will it affect the child in the long term?

Presenter: Jenny Brockie 
Producer: Elise Potaka 
Associate Producer: Kyle Taylor 
Associate Producer: Alix Piatek 

Join the discussion by using the #insightsbs hashtag on Twitter, posting on our Facebook page, or commenting on our Your Say page.

Meet the Guests

  • Brendan, Shannon & Julie

    Julie adopted Brendan and Shannon after first fostering them. The brothers say that adoption gave them a sense of security that foster care didn’t provide. They are in an open adoption, but since the age of 12 have decided to only have minimal contact with their biological mother.

  • Khaled & Rosemary

    Khaled pushed for his own adoption. He’d been fostered by Rosemary since he was a baby, but at 12 years old he decided it wasn’t enough. Khaled has a good relationship with his biological mother – he refers to both her and Rosemary as “mum”.

  • Nick Davies

    Nick went through 26 foster homes growing up. He admits that he was a troubled kid and some of the carers couldn’t handle his behaviours. He sometimes wonders if life would have been different if he was adopted. But he believes that, with the right carers, there’s little difference between foster care and adoption.

  • “Katelin”

    Katelin was addicted to drugs when her daughter was removed by child protection authorities. Katelin was able to get clean and, after three years, she got her daughter restored to her care. She says people in her situation can need a long time, and significant supports, in order to turn their lives around and prove they can parent.

  • Marian

    Marian adopted 3 children from foster care in the UK. She thought that a loving home would be enough to heal any wounds that the children had brought with them from their troubled past. But she struggled to cope and went through bouts of depression. Marian says there must be significant supports in place for people adopting kids from foster care.

  • Pru Goward

    Pru Goward is the NSW Minister for Family and Community Services. She is advocating for legal reforms that would make it easier to adopt young children who have been permanently removed from their parents by child protection authorities. She would like to see adoption prioritised over foster care for these children as a way of giving them permanency at a young age.


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