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Adoptions in ACT fall to their lowest ever

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The ACT had its lowest number of adoptions on record last year, with only six - and not a single Canberra child adopted to a new family.

New statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed in the 2012-13 financial year there were four international adoptions and two known adoptions, when a foster parent or family members adopts a child.

This was also Canberra's first year on record without a single ''local'' adoption.

Chief executive of foster-care organisation Barnardos Australia Louise Voigt said she was not surprised by the new numbers.

''We've been talking about this for years,'' she said.

''The only adoptions we've managed to do is when we place ACT children in NSW.

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''That's a most unsatisfactory situation because it means ACT families have no opportunity to adopt children.''

There were 566 children in foster care in the ACT in 2012.

A spokesman for ACT Children and Young People Minister Joy Burch said the numbers were in line with national and international trends.

''The trend in the ACT has been consistent with national data which reflect a general decrease in the number of adoptions nationally since the late 1980s,'' he said. He also pointed out that there were 15 Enduring Parental Responsibility orders made by the court over the same period.

Ms Voigt said adoption was important because it gave foster children a sense of security, and ensured a stable family well after they turned 18.

''Children don't just relate to their family until they're 18. [Adoption] means mum and dad are around through those years of the early 20s, when mistakes are made and that background of security is there,'' she said.

''It's a lifelong thing, adoption.''

International adoptions have also reached a record low, down from a peak of 26 in 2003-04 to just four in the last financial year.

ACT Adopted Families Association president and adoptive mother Bronwyn Lucey said the numbers of inter-country adoptions had dropped everywhere, as adoption programs were shut down.

''India has closed down … Korea has all but closed down and China has blown out to a 10-year wait. These all used to be major programs,'' she said.

''So Australia is extremely limited as to countries they can now deal with.''

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced last month he planned to reduce waiting times and costs for families wanting to adopt children from overseas. But Ms Lucey said she remained sceptical until she saw how Mr Abbott planned to do it.

''It's great that he's talking about this new committee, but do people realise that he's already closed down one adoption committee, the National Inter-Country Adoption Advisory Group?'' she said.

''I'm still waiting to see what's actually going to come of it before I get too excited.''

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