ASPECTS OF RESEARCH IN THE FIELD OF ADOPTION
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
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
Children In Need
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.