Adoption rates across Britain have decreased by massive amounts over the past few years with couples instead turning to IVF or surrogacy to grow their families.
According to data released by The Times, the complex legal process involved in adoption has resulted in a steep decline of adoptions with the number of applications by heterosexual couples falling by 36 per cent over four years. Throughout England and Wales 3,142 couples were granted permission to adopt in the 2017-18 period, compared to 4,914 in 2013-14 with numbers falling by 400 in just the last year.
Specialist family lawyer Sarah Wood-Heath told the publication fewer couples are going down the path of adoption due to the complicated and often disheartening legal process. She added that cultural issues are also to blame claiming too much weight is given to race and linguistic factors.
“The primary consideration regarding the welfare of a child… should be to find a loving family,” she told The Times.
Australia has seen similar statistics with adoption rates severely declining since the 1970s when babies born out of wedlock were regularly forced into the adoption system. Shockingly, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, almost 10,000 children were adopted throughout 1971-72.
Thankfully, things have changed and the country has become much more accepting of raising children outside of marriage. Along with the increased support for single parents and the effectiveness of birth control, annual adoption rates have fallen into the hundreds.
However, falling adoption rates are somewhat of a double-edged sword as millions of children are left without a home while prospective parents spend thousands on IVF or surrogacy.
In 2016-17 there were only 315 adoptions confirmed in Australia, which was actually a slight increase of 13 per cent from 2015-16. Of these adoptions 45 per cent were by known carers, such as foster parents, with 88 per cent of adoptions within the country allowed a degree of contact or information exchange between families.
This was a big change from the 1960s when secrecy provisions were tightened and neither party even knew each other’s names. It wasn’t until the late 1970s when new laws were introduced giving birth parents and adopted children the right to contact one another.
Sadly for many Australians, especially those forced to give up any kind of contact throughout the ’60s and early ’70s, the effects of the adoption has had many long-term side effects.
While there is limited data recorded on this matter, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, many reports of unjust cruel and unlawful behaviours were made towards young, unmarried, pregnant women who were giving birth during this period.
This terrible treatment stayed with them throughout their lives with birth parents facing emotional distress as they tried to connect with their now adult children.