Important cases — Adoption

[3-1020] Hackett (a pseudonym) v Secretary, Department of Communities and Justice [2020] NSWCA 83

Adoption — biological father opposed adoption — biological mother identified as Aboriginal — child assumed into care at 7 months of age and placed with her proposed adoptive mother who is not Aboriginal — prior decision, Fischer v Thompson (Anonymised) [2019] NSWSC 773, stated that in order for a child to be an “Aboriginal child”, it was necessary to identify an ancestor of the child who was “a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia, and identified as an Aboriginal person, and was accepted by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal person” — at first instance it was held that the child was not Aboriginal and Aboriginal child placement principles did not apply — s 4(1) Adoption Act 2000 provides that the definition of “Aboriginal child” refers to “descended from an Aboriginal” and s 4(2) refers to the child being “of Aboriginal descent”; “descended” and “descent” have nothing to do with identification or acceptance — unnecessary to identify ancestor who was a member of Aboriginal race, identified as Aboriginal and was recognised by Aboriginal community — sufficient to show child was descended from people who lived in Australia before British colonisation — Fischer v Thompson (Anonymised) [2019] NSWSC 773 disapproved — leave to appeal granted in part.

Department of Communities and Justice and Jake [2020] NSWChC 2

Adoption — child placed in a kinship foster care placement with the proposed adoptive parents after birth — no realistic prospect of restoration to parents — interim order allocating all aspects of Parental Responsibility to the Minister — Secretary filed a Care Plan proposing adoption — IRL not satisfied with permanency planning — found that adoption is premature and court cannot be satisfied the Care Plan addresses all the needs of the child — Plan not approved and Secretary invited to prepare a further Care Plan.

Adoption of B [2019] NSWSC 908

Adoption — child assumed into care at 6 months of age and placed with her proposed adoptive mother whom she has lived with for 12 years — birth father opposed adoption order — child consented to adoption — birth mother identified as Aboriginal person — evidence not conclusive whether child is of Aboriginal descent — adoption in child’s best interests — order for adoption and order for change of surname approved.

Fischer v Thompson (Anonymised) [2019] NSWSC 773

Adoption — ss 4, 34 Adoption Act 2000 definition of Aboriginal person — s 32 Care Act Aboriginal child placement principles — summons for orders for adoption and change of surname — 12 year old boy lives with proposed adoptive parents who have been caring for him since birth — birth parents oppose adoption — child consents to adoption — birth father discovered he was Aboriginal in 2017 — Aboriginality of child investigated by Secretary — Secretary opposed adoption as child benefiting from contact with birth family and connection with Aboriginal heritage — descent is sufficient for a child to be an Aboriginal child for purposes of s 4(1), (2) Adoption Act but child must still be descended from an Aborigine as defined in s 4 test — birth father is not an Aborigine for the purposes of the Act due to lack of evidence to meet components of s 4 test — order for adoption and order for change of surname approved.

Department of Communities and Justice and the Stonsky Children [2019] NSWChC 8

Adoption — children placed with carers with a view to adoption — no realistic possibility of restoration to parents — Secretary proposed short-term care orders of parental responsibility to the Minister for two years with a view to adoption — parents opposed adoption — ILR contends that permanency planning is not achieved — proposed adoptive parents are highly regarded foster carers with extensive experience in caring for children in short-term, respite and emergency capacities as well as caring for children with delays or disabilities — adoption plan is real and not simply aspirational, not a case of a mere intention to adopt — unlikely adoption process will finalise within two years — Care Plan should place an onus on the Secretary to bring an application for rescission under s 90 Care Act if adoption is delayed or does not proceed — the permanency planning has not been appropriately and adequately addressed unless Care Plan has a mechanism to ensure a s 90 application is made — Secretary directed to prepare a different permanency plan.

Adoption of SRB, CJB and RDB [2014] NSWSC 138

Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 64B(2)(b) — Adoption Act 2000 ss 8, 59, 67(1)(d), 90, 91, 118 — children were removed from their birth parents’ care pursuant to a child protection order, on the grounds, inter alia, that they were living in an unsafe environment due to issues of domestic violence and substance abuse (including alcohol, cannabis and heroin) on the part of their birth parents — whether making of adoption orders clearly preferable to any other legal action which can be taken in respect of the care of the children — focus of the adoption order must be on the best interests of the child, not the wishes and aspirations of the adoptive applicants or birth parents — factors to consider as to whether adoption order preferable to other long-term orders — finding that the making of the adoption orders were clearly preferable to any other action which can be taken with respect to the care of the children.