Dian Wellfare Adoption Rights Campaigner (1951-2008)

What they knew and Ignored
Overview of Adoption
"A Sanctioned Evil" Adoption History in Australia
"A Sanctioned Evil" 2
"A Sanctioned Evil" 3
"A Sanctioned Evil" 4
"A Sanctioned Evil" 5
A Sanctioned Evil 6
Dian's Tribute Page
Civil Rights Crimes in Adoption
Wake up Little Suzie
Beyond Pain
Responses to the NSW Inquiry
A Judge Speaks
What they Knew
South Australian Vetos
Dian's Portrait at National Gallery
Origins INC NSW


Child Abuse and Negligence in the Name of Adoption



MAEV O'COLLINS..B.A. Dip. Soc. Stud. Social Worker, Catholic Family Welfare Bureau, Melbourne, Vic. (extract from a paper printed in the;  AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK Vol 19, NO 1. February 1966)


In assessment and placing of children with adopting applicants we are always looking for their normal capacity for parenthood. Our judgement in many cases is only a little better than chance and our ability to assess possible problems must leave a greater margin for error than perhaps any other field of social welfare. However, it is reassuring to note that studies carried out in the U.S.A. have shown that trained workers in adoption agencies have significantly better results than independent adoption work........Often we are affected by over-crowded nurseries and insufficient couples applying to adopt 'hard to place' children and a growing awareness that delay for the baby can have a damaging effect on his personality that even the best and most understanding couple may not be able to counteract.


This may mean that in the 'stress' of the moment we place a child hurriedly, perhaps too soon, perhaps to the wrong couple, perhaps to unsuitable people.

Donald Brieland in his experimental study of the Selection of Adoptive Parents at Intake, raised the problem that individual judgement by social workers is only somewhat better than chance.


Our task of clarifying and strengthening the reality of parenthood while at the same time not withholding or denying the fact of the childs biological

origins will perhaps always remain the crucial difficulty in adoption.

Studies to determine the success or failure in adoption work must always be considered against the background of normal family living, and results may not be readily assessed until 15 or 20 years after the original placement.


Adoptive parents will make mistakes because they are human and will not always understand, thus adoption is not a panacea, it will not always produce well adjusted adults but it does seem to be the best plan we have to offer the child denied his own parents'.


That timing coincided nicely with legislative changes in Victoria by 1985. The experiment on our children had obviously failed.


By 1967, McLelland, referred to the historical developments in the selection of adoptive parents where efforts were also being made to recruit those prepared to take hard to place children:


   "including those who were by no means ideal".    


McWhinnie scathingly attacked adoption as a hit and miss affair in 1967, publicly exposing (via the Daily Mirror), the findings of research she had conducted on 58 adult adoptees. Of her 58 guinea-pigs, only 15 were well adjusted and considered their childhood to be happy and successful, 10 were poorly adjusted and 21 were still struggling with severe immediate emotional problems relating to adoption. The rest were considered to be intermediate.


Adoption Separation as Child Abuse


Children In Need

Donald McLean


Chapter 4


Prefaced and endorsed by the Honorable R J Heffron, Deputy Premier and Minister for Education in NSW


To avoid any misunderstanding or any suggestion that the mother was misled or uninformed, District Officers are instructed to explain to the mother, before taking the consent, the facilities

Which are available to help her keep the child. These include homes licensed under the Child Welfare Act for the private care of children apart from natural parents, financial assistance to unmarried mothers under section 27 of the Child Welfare Act, admission to State control until the mother is in a position to care for the child, and, assistance to affiliate the child an obtain a maintenance order against the putative father.


When all these aids have been rejected, the officer is expected to explain to the mother to full implications of the Act of surrendering her child. Only when the mother has considered these, and still wishes to proceed with the surrender for adoption, should the consent be accepted.

The Research of this material was resourced by Dian Wellfare   


The website is constructed and maintained by Lily Arthur in memory and honor of Dian Wellfare


The material on this site is subject to Copyright 2009 Any reproduction must be approved by
Origins Inc