Louise And Gabrielle Upton

Barnardos Australia CEO Louise Voigt with NSW Minister for Family and Community Services Gabrielle Upton.

Barnardos Australia launched a ground-breaking research project into open adoption outcomes today.

The project was announced at “Talking about Adoption”, a Sydney event celebrating 30 years of open adoption by Barnardos Australia. The event was a chance for Barnardos adoptive families, staff and supporters to meet and share their experiences of open adoption over the years.

It is the first in a series of events Barnardos will host every six months under the banner of their newly formed Centre for Excellence in Open Adoption, to report on the progress of research findings as well as encourage more dialogue in the community around open adoption.

The new research project will examine the long-term life outcomes of open adoption of children permanently removed from their birth families by the courts in NSW because of abuse and neglect. The 30 year retrospective study will be particularly unique in that it will examine the impact of open adoption, the practice in which there is most usually ongoing contact between the birth family and child, to assist the child to understand their past.

CEO for Barnardos Australia and staunch advocate for open adoption, Louise Voigt said, “We know from experience that the 'state' is not a good parent for children who must spend their childhood in a dysfunctional foster care system and grow up to be o'ver-represented in statistics for unemployment, homelessness , drug and alcohol addiction and in the juvenile justice system.

"Many of these children tell me they want to belong. I know they need a family for life, which is why I have been so committed to open adoption. Barnardos is fortunate to have a strong and committed staff who have stayed the course and persisted through many difficulties in order to implement our vision over these last 30 years.”

Barnardos Australia will partner with Professor Harriet Ward, internationally renowned research director, social policy advisor and founder of UK’s Loughborough University Centre for Child and Family Research. Work in Australia will be undertaken by Barnardos Australia staff, who are in a unique position to undertake the research as many of them have long standing relationships with the adoptive families and have seen the children adopted through the program grow to adulthood.

Barnardos is collecting ongoing minor research already undertaken and practice knowledge as part of the Centre for Excellence in Open Adoption. This major research project is a first for Australia and will add to Barnardos' growing reputation for evidence based practice. Barnardos’ Centre for Excellence in Open Adoption is already contributing to the international debate on the permanency outcomes for abused and neglected children, as seen in the forthcoming article “A pathway from long-term care to adoption: findings from an Australian permanency programme” to be published in the July issue of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering Journal.


Portrait presentation

Louise And Artist

Portrait artist Guy Morgan presented his paint of Barnardos Australia CEO Lousie Voigt at the Talking About Adoption event.
Guy Morgan is always looking for strong faces with strong personalities. He was directed to an upcoming National Press club event, a speaker on adoption in Australia, and turned on the TV and saw Louise speaking passionately about the importance of adoption for children in foster care. Louise has been CEO of Barnardos for 30 years and has personally been instrumental in the adoptions of every one of the over 200 children Barnardos has adopted over 30 years – many who will be at the unveiling tomorrow.

A smaller early study for this work won Guy the “Who is Looking at You” Portrait Prize (which was held at the Cambridge Studio Gallery in Collingwood in Feb 2014). It will also be entered on Monday in the very prestigious 2014 Mosman Art Prize.

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Barnardos 30Yr Adoption

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(Photos from the Talking About Adoption event were taken by Magdalena Photography.)