A Short History of SACAS

 

A Short but Dynamic History
The short history of SACAS is a study in the need for people to belong to a community and how the nature of that community can be fundamentally influenced by external events. We hope that the brief history below will help those new to SACAS to better understand where our organisation is coming from and where we are headed.

People and the Need for Community
Immediately following the commencement of the PRC adoption program in 2000 people began reaching out for information, support and friendship. Gradually networks developed through the early batches and the establishment of a Host Family Scheme. These friendships would become pivotal in the development of more formal networks and groups. Within a few years people began to join electronic support groups and it was Australian Overseas Adoption South Australia (AOASA) that first offered a forum in which South Australian's could come together. Slowly the numbers of families and waiting parents grew and people began asking why South Australia did not have a support group in place for the PRC adoption program. Some joined Chinese community groups and/or general intercountry adoption groups. However around mid 2004 a feeling was developing that enough of a "critical mass" was present to make a support group viable. To test this feeling a small group of parents and waiting parents advertised a Christmas Party and the large attendance was confirmation that a support group was needed. SACAS was born.

Impacted by External Events
However none of the above occurred within a vacuum.
In the United States the rapid growth of Chinese adoptions was evidence that any local South Australian support group would need to be prepared for rapid growth and large numbers of members. Perhaps numbers that would exceed even the largest of groups currently operating within South Australia. This was a challenging and daunting prospect and one that would require considerable thought and planning. The founders of SACAS recognised that unlike many smaller groups our organisation would require a degree of formality in its structures and administration in order to succeed. The anticipated growth of the Chinese adoption program was therefore one of the major external factors on the history of SACAS.

At around the same time as SACAS was forming the intercountry adoption community in South Australia would be deeply affected by the closure of the private adoption agency Australians Aiding Children Adoption Agency (AACAA) and its replacement by the state government's Adoptions and Family Information Service (AFIS). At this time the there was a great deal of uncertainty and concern within the intercountry adoption community and this coincided with many of the formative decisions within SACAS.

 

So SACAS was forged in a crucible of uncertainty and in such an environment it steeled itself to become a robust, self-supporting and sustainable support group. At the same time SACAS also recognised the need to play its part in the intercountry adoption community and actively sought to form friendships with like minded individuals and organisations. You will therefore find enshrined in the SACAS Constitution not only a desire to pursue the classic Chinese philosophy of strength and self reliance, but also a desire to work constructively with others and to play our part in making the intercountry adoption community a better place for adoptive families and their children.

 

SACAS is truly a product of the environment in which it was born.

The SACAS of Today
Today it is often remarked that SACAS is different to many other intercountry adoption support groups. The short history of SACAS above provides some explanation for these differences. The nature of the Adoption Program along with the times in which our organisation was born have both left there marks on the development of SACAS. However one cannot forget the role that individuals have played in this process. From the very start SACAS has been blessed by attracting a diverse range of people with complimentary skills and a shared vision to make South Australia the best place in the world in which to adopt and raise a child born in the People's Republic of China.  Achieving this vision will form the future of SACAS.

 

Timeline of Key Stages in the Early History of SACAS

2000

Adoptions from the People’s Republic of China PRC Began in South Australia.

2000-2004

Batches of families began to support each other and the Host Family Scheme put people in touch with other.

2003-2004

E-Communities began to form including Australian Overseas Adoption South Australia (AOASA)

2000-2004

People began to explore membership of Chinese groups and Intercountry Adoption groups in search of support and to access Chinese culture.

Mid 2004

As numbers grew a critical mass was achieved and people began talking seriously about forming a Chinese Adoption support group.

Mid - Late 2004

Serious research into options for the provision of a support group were undertaken, including a study of local and US experiences.

Dec 2004

SACAS held a Christmas Picnic to determine if a support group was viable and the impressive attendance confirmed that there was a clear need.

Jan 2005

The First Calendar of Events was published and SACAS began to attract increasing numbers of members.

Feb/Mar 2005

An announcement was made by Jay Weatherill, Minister for Families and Communities that the private adoption agency AACAA would be closed and replaced by the government agency AFIS.

Mar 2005

SACAS approached AFIS to discuss the way forward and how we could assist our members and others in the new environment.

Apr 2005

SACAS began to develop a more formalised Board Structure and a draft Constitution.

Oct 2005

SACAS launched its Website to assist in the development of a growing community and to provide information to that community.

Oct 2005

SACAS gave evidence to the Standing Committee into Overseas Adoption.

Mar 2006

SACAS became an Incorporated Body after formalising its Constitution, Vision, Mission and Objectives.

May 2006

SACAS developed a 5-Year Plan which outlined goals and provided strategies with which to achieve them.

2008

SACAS was awarded  a Children's Week Award for Outstanding and Consistent Contributions to the Needs, Interests and Welfare of Children

2010

SACAS Members voted to make SACAS more inclusive and not just for those within the PRC Adoption Program.  As a result SACAS became open to all adoptive families and adoptees of Chinese Heritage.

2012

SACAS campaigned successfully, and against significant opposition from sections of the adoption authorities, to have adopted individuals from the PRC granted the dignity of a South Australian Birth Certificate just like every other overseas adopted individual. 

2013

SACAS campaigned successfully, and against extreme obstructionism from sections of the adoption authorities, to reform Section 31 of the SA Adoption Act which prevented people from speaking freely in the media and threatened $20,000 fines for those doing so.  As a result adopted individuals in SA now have the rights of self determination and free speech previously denied to them.

Beyond

SACAS continues to develop as an organisation and as a community. SACAS retains a focus on building robust and sustainable support for our members whilst contributing in our small way to the well-being of the entire intercountry adoption community in SA.