FAMILY: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
AFA calls for adopting parents to be married
, April 9, 2005
Children adopted from overseas should be taken into intact families in which both parents are married, says the Australian Family Association (AFA).
The House of Representatives is currently conducting an inquiry into the laws governing adoption of children from overseas.
In Australia, laws on adoption (including overseas adoption) are state matters, and are influenced by state anti-discrimination and other laws not directly connected with adoption.
The terms of reference of the House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Family and Human Services invite public submissions into "any inconsistency between state and territory approval processes for overseas adoptions."
Most countries require that children be adopted into families in which the adopting parents are married to each other.Inconsistencies
The AFA submission points out serious inconsistencies between states and territories, arising in part from state laws which permit adoption by unmarried couples, including same-sex couples.
In Western Australia, a joint application requires that a couple be either married or in a de facto relationship (homosexual or heterosexual) for at least three years.
In Tasmania, the law requires that people be married for at least three years, except in the case of adoption of a relative, where the adoptive parents must be in what is defined as a registered "significant relationship".
The ACT Adoption Act allows adoption by people who have lived in a "domestic partnership" for at least three years, whether married or unmarried, homosexual or heterosexual.
In South Australia, an adoption order may be made in favour of a man and woman who have been cohabiting (married or de facto) for a continuous period of at least five years.
New South Wales law restricts adoption to heterosexual couples, either married or unmarried, living on "a bona fide
domestic basis" for a period of at least three years before making an application to adopt.
Northern Territory law restricts adoption to couples who have been married for at least two years, while Queensland's Adoption of Children Act states that an adoption order "may only be made in favour of a husband and wife jointly", and specifically excludes unmarried people (homosexual or heterosexual) adopting children.
In its submission, the AFA argued that adoption by de facto couples was not in the best interest of children.
It said, "Children need a father and a mother who remain in a stable, committed relationship together for at least the whole of the child's upbringing to adulthood.
"De facto relationships break up at a far higher rate than marriages.
"In Australia, de facto relationships encounter more problems than marriage. Twenty-five percent lasted 12 months, 50 per cent lasted two years and 75 per cent ended before four years.
"Worldwide evidence is that existing cohabitations with children tend to break up at four-to-five-fold the rate of marriages. An Office for National Statistics study (UK) found that 52 per cent of cohabiting couples had split up five years after the birth of the child, but 92 per cent of married parents are still together. This makes cohabiting couples six and a half times more likely to split up after the birth of a child than a married couple.
"In the Christchurch Child Development Study, cohabitation is a foremost risk factor for breakdown of the child's family in its first five years. 43.9 per cent of de facto couples separated compared to 10.9 per cent of the married."
The AFA submission also rejected claims that homosexual adoption had no adverse effects on children.
It said, "Reviews by Dr Robert Lerner and by Lynn Wardle of all studies conducted to date on the effects of homosexual parenting have demonstrated that many of those studies claiming that homosexual parenting has no adverse affect on children have fatal methodological flaws and their conclusions cannot be maintained as scientifically valid."
The submission added, "Wardle shows, even from those studies which conclude in favour of homosexual parenting, that there is data showing that homosexual parenting may be harmful."
The AFA recommended that the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2004, carried by the House of Representatives but lapsed in the Senate, should be reintroduced, and strengthened.
This Bill precluded international adoptions by homosexual couples. The AFA called for the Bill to be expanded to prevent adoption by persons of the opposite sex who are not married to each other.
To prevent this amendment being rendered ineffective by judicial interpretation of the Sex Discrimination Act, the AFA also recommended that this Act should be amended to ensure "the right for all jurisdictions to limit access to adoption on the grounds of marital status."
The Standing Committee on Family and Human Services has invited public submissions until April 22 this year.