How does culture factor into an adoption order?

Date: Dec 03, 2014

Within family law, there is an overriding principal that every decision made by the courts regarding a child must be made in their best interests. When it comes to adoption, specifically inter-cultural adoption, this principal becomes even more important.

This question was recently considered by the Supreme Court of New South Wales, in a case which revolved around the ongoing care of two children who had been placed with a foster family by the Department of Family and Community Services.

The Department then applied to the courts to have an adoption order granted to the current carers of the two children which would formalise their living arrangement. The decision was opposed by the child's mother, on the grounds they would not have sufficient connection with their cultural heritage.

The mother of the children was Sudanese in origin, and argued that the current arrangement would not be in the best interests of the children as they would have no connection to this culture. Affidavits were also filed by a man claiming to be the father and by the mother's sister who hoped for the children to live with her.

In this case, the Judge ruled that although it would be preferable for the children to be raised by a Sudanese adoptive family, in this situation the existing living arrangements were sufficient. Given that the children had already been with their current caregivers for some time, the court also ruled that moving them would constitute an unnecessary interruption to the children's lives.

Finally, there was still an option available to the children to learn more about their heritage and keep in contact with their mother, if the adoption plan was followed. This led the courts to dispense with the requirement to seek approval from the biological mother and father for the adoption order.

This case illustrates the variety of factors that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to finding the right solution to an adoption order. Deciding what is in the best interests of a child will often involve cultural considerations, with the courts aiming to create as little disruption as possible to the lives of adopted children.

If you want to know more about the issues involved in adopting children, make sure you contact a family lawyer. They will be able to provide a much greater level of information on this process and guide you through the different requirements that come with the adoption process.