Here is a letter I have emailed to Mark Butler, Mick Atkinson and Tony Abbot
The Hon. Mark Butler
Minister for Social Inclusion
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform
Australian Labor Party
House of Representatives
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Dear Mr Butler
I am a prospective adoptive parent in the Inter-country adoption process. I am also historically a Labor voter. I am also a resident in your constituency and I ask that you read about my situation with compassion and consider what action the government can take on my behalf and on behalf of other parents who are locked in this ridiculous bureaucratic nightmare.
We have been approved for adoption and have been waiting for a child from China for 5 years. At the current processing rate we will be waiting another three years and 4 months. In 4 years and 6 months I will be fifty. I cannot see how the government can allow this situation to occur. Why do we still enter into a program with China when clearly their waiting times are ridiculous and untenable? Why do we only deal with countries who have signed the Hague convention when clearly these are not the countries with orphans who are in dire need of love and care?
The latest UNICEF numbers for 2008 indicate that there are an estimated 132 million orphans (the 2006 estimate was 143 million). Many of them die before reaching 5 years old, yet we are tied in a bureaucratic process that prevents two loving people who are financially secure and able to provide a good home, from providing this stable environment to a child in need. This is a completely tragic situation and completely unjust. Deborah Lee Furness stated that Australia has an anti adoption culture and I agree.
Adoptive parents are a voting minority and consequently have no voice. But I am a voter and I will exercise my vote for the opposition should nothing come of this letter. Families SA has been unimpressive in this process. I have received emails suggesting I don’t bother about complaining because it upsets people unnecessarily when they can’t do anything about the situation. In other words we have been asked to remain silent while we are institutionally abused. The situation is not bearable, Families SA should just “suck it up” and listen to the justifiable anger of prospective parents.
I have had to deal with a revolving door of social workers. I have listened to them blame China and Mick Atkinson. I have attended workshops where the facilitator could not even spell the words that were being brainstormed and he was a senior social worker, who then said he was a product of his education, by way of apology. The same social worker expressed disappointment (and I quote) that there was “not more robust discussion in the group”. Even though these were the same people who were to interview us for hours on end to make judgments about how fit we were as parents. Did he really think he’d be challenged in a situation where the power relationships were so obviously biased?
I have inquired into foster care and Anglicare told me I was too old to foster babies and that if I wanted to foster older children I would have to make sure there were no renovations going on in my home because that would be disruptive??? They then told me that this was not their restriction, but that laid out by Families SA. But having Guardian of the Minister children languish in homes with a round the clock revolving door of carers is preferable??? I know this occurs because I have witnessed it first hand with a 6 year old at the school where I teach, for whom they are unable to find foster parents.
I have complained before. I received a letter from Mick Atkinson’s bureaucrats stating in verbose and inarticulate correspondence that, once I digested it, I was able to condense to “we can’t do anything about it, it’s China’s fault, sorry you’re frustrated but bad luck.” I have worked in the public service and I am well aware of the pachyderm-like machinations of large bureaucracies but this is a ridiculous, cruelly abusive situation.
I would like to know, where is the voice of the prospective adoptive parent? Why is Australia allowed to show such desperate cowardice in the face of millions of orphans who could be saved by the wealth and opportunity afforded us in such a country as ours.
I completely abhor child trafficking and am well aware of the risks programs encounter. I am also completely and utterly convinced that children ought to be brought up in a culturally sensitive context and most preferably by their biological parents and in their country of origin. But this ideal situation exists in the mind of fantasists. The orphan crisis is abhorrent, but it is real and needs addressing. Of course ideally we need to fix the problems at their source. We have international responsibilities and moral obligations to support our neighbors and countries who have growing poverty and desperate situations. Why is adoption excluded from strategies to counter the orphan crisis and why do aid options not provide for the desperately poor, war ravaged places where children regularly die unnecessarily.
This situation must end now. I, and my husband, would be wonderful parents. Isn’t Labor about working families? When this process was managed by private industry, waiting times were 9 months. Now that it has been taken over by a government bureaucracy I am looking at 9 years waiting. How can this be a reality? How can this incompetence be allowed to continue? Why is the ALP doing nothing about this situation? I realize this is a busy time where you are deciding who should run the country, but I believe this situation to be as important as the Prime Ministership and would appreciate it if you would please let me know what action you (not one of your employees to whom this letter will reach, placed in a numbered file requiring a satisfactorily vague and non-implicating response) but you, what action will YOU be taking as a result of this letter.