Continuation of Origins Submission to NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Adoption Practices
Written and researched by Dian Wellfare
explained at a recent court hearing of `W' vs The State of New South Wales that hospital policy dictated that eye contact
was forbidden between mother and child in order to prevent bonding between mother and child. It was also declared how this
practice was under review in 1968 and ceased in 1969, although that was a blatant misrepresentation of the truth.
will now explain this inhumanity away as being a kindness but it was no such thing.
with which the de-bonding procedure was carried out was done with such contempt and control as to render the mother helpless
are we yet to hear of a mother who was advised prior to the birth that it would be best for her not to see her baby as a way
of preparing her, butthat there own literature explains that the belief at the
time was that if a mother saw her child she would be less likely to give it up.
Commission policy warning sent to all hospitals in the state of NSW showed concern that this practice was still occurring
in smaller provincial hospitals in 1982. By the early 1970's some hospitals allowed the mother to see her baby for a minute
or two but only after she had signed the consent.
greater inducement to sign a consent to adoption could there be? what more shocking trade-off could be imagined?, than to
put a mother in a position where, in order to be permitted to see her own baby, she had to sign him away forever.
It was only
after hospitals began treating unmarried mothers like human beings (and only after they were threatened with potential litigation), and began permitting them
free access to their babies in the eighties that adoption numbers dropped dramatically.
the following comment found in a 1968 annual report by the Medical Social Work section at the Royal Women’s Hospital
in Melbourne might additionally explain why forbidding a mother to see her baby had nothing to do with being a kindness to
Forcing girls temporarily to hold medically deferred babies is
course which holds such dangers that - humanitarian reasons
aside` - it would be against the community's
interests to permit
this to occur.
Social Work Journal 1977
to an article by Dr Kraus, in the Sydney Morning Herald at the time, where he blames the `crisis' in the drop in the availability
of babies for adoption on the newly introduced abortion bill, Elspeth Brown lists other explanations and factors responsible
for the `crisis'.
In the same
article titled `Abortion and Adoption' in anAustralian Social Work Journal back
in 1977 might shed some light on the adoption industry's own perception of adoption and their possible reasons for treating
mothers as though they had had an abortion, instead of having given birth:
If abortion is an absolute measure
of `unwantedness', and
if surrendering a baby for adoption
is tantamount to abortion,
or at least an alternative to abortion,
then the availability
of babies for adoption is also a measure
of 'unwantedness', a
rather doubtful proposition in psychodynamic
to Dr Kraus's concerns about the `crisis' the adoption field was beginning to experience, Brown not only addresses his concerns
about the `crisis, but, by the very nature of her article and her choice of word usage, outlines very clearly how babies were
seen and used as a commodity required by the adoption agency to meet the ferocious market demand.
A less savage
society would consider the mass `abandonment of babies' as being the `crisis', whereas the Australian adoption industry considers
the shortage of `abandoned babies' as a `crisis'.
In the first place, the years 1968-72 were GOOD YEARS FOR BABIES
compared with more recent years. Crude birth rates continued to exceed
per thousand as they had consistently since 1946. The sudden drop in birth
rates happened on 1973.....The maintenance of high birth rates up to the
recent past has been accounted
for bydemographers as the `ripple effect' of the post war baby boom, induced by the progeny
of that period moving into
reproductive years and by the increased propensity to marry rather than increased individual fertility. and
Add to this the influence of the Commonwealth Marriage Act which came
effect in 1963and which
virtually made it impossible for a girl under the
age of sixteen to marry, pregnancy notwithstanding, and one has the
makings of a potential small boom in the availability of babies for adoption.
1971 Manual of Adoption Practice
by the Child Care Committee of The Australian Association of Social Workers of NSW in 1971, nowhere in the new Manual of Adoption
any indication of the mothers rights and entitlements. But it was
how the social worker should go about protecting herself in the consent taking procedure should the mother take legal action
to reclaim her child.
in maternity hospitals began to feel that rules relating to unmarried mothers should become more flexible. Having given some
thought to whether a girl should see her child it was decided that in some cases the girl adjusts to the situation afterwards
more easily if she is allowed to see her child. But that's all she was entitled to.
The new Manual of Adoption Practice in New South Wales, Childcare Committee of NSW in accordance with the Australian
Association of Social Workers (AASW) 1971:
HELPING NATURAL PARENTS REACH A DECISION
"Relinquishment of a child for adoption should be timed to take
the natural parent is ready for it. For example some mothers
may feel too
emotionally disturbed after confinement to make a satisfactory
They would like a little more time to adjust to the fact that
the baby has
been born and that they now feel rather different - both physically
emotionally. Such time should be available to them in the
accommodation and care for themselves and their baby while
themselves. They should not be bound by problems of MaternityHospital
accommodation to maketheir final decision within a few days of
was almost always signed without fail on the day the mother was to leave the hospital, which was usually day five or six.
She was not permitted access to her street clothes until after she had signed.
HOSPITAL PROCEDURES RELATING TO UNMARRIED MOTHERS
In the past... it has been the practice for mothers whose
babies were to be
surrendered for adoption not to see their babies or certainly
discouraged from seeing their babies. In the last few years
workers have been re-thinking this and feel that in some cases
the girl adjusts
to the situation afterwards much more easily if she is allowed to see the child.
did not recognise that it is illegal to control a mothers access to her own child.
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
If subsequent to the parents signing a Form of Consent for Adoption,
discovers that the baby is unsuitable for adoption, it will, under the existing legal and departmental procedures, generally be necessary to
re-involve the natural parents in a further decisionabout the future of
their baby, including the possibility of regaining guardianship,
financial arrangements. The possibility of this occurrence should
clear to natural parents at or before the time of their signing
a Form of
Consent to Adoption.
means is that if the baby is not perfect and therefore unmarketable, the mother can have the child back.
IMPORTANCE OF THE MOTHERS CONSENT
Adoption agencies and those people who actually witness the mothers
consents should realise the importance of ensuring that the mother
understands the meaning of giving consents to the adoption of her
not only because of the social and psychological implications involved
mother's decision, but also because of the legal consequences which
ensue if the consent is not properly taken.
THE CONSENT TAKING INTERVIEW
If the mother has not already read form 9, the request to make
arrangements for the adoption of a child, and Form 7, the legal
consent, for herself, she should be invited to do so. If she cannot,
not wish to do this, both forms must be read to her - one or other
things must be done without fail.
were always presented to the mother to be signed simultaneously, giving the mother no time to consider the consequences of
signing form 7.
was rarely complied with.
The mother should then be asked if she understands the wording and
meaning of what she proposes to sign, and the meaning of consent
be re-stated again in words as simple as is indicated for the maturity
intelligence of the particular mother, e.g. “You understand,
that this paper you are signing means that you are giving up your
always? It means your baby will belong to strangers, for always,
will never see him or hear of him again. He will, in fact become
child just as if he had been born to them and not to you."
* The worker must be sure that the mother can answer with "yes".
is very damning as it explains how to form a question to ensure the appropriate response.
Bearing in mind the startling nature of the possible legal consequences
of a failure to
comply with the Regulations, the following precautions are
1. The same person who previously informed the mother of her right
withdraw her consent within a limited time after signing should
consent, or if this is not possible, the previous explanation will,
unfortunately, have to be made again by the person who is to witness
2. An explanation of the consent alone is not sufficient to comply
Regulations; the worker must also satisfy herself (eg. by asking
mother if she understands the explanation) that the mother understands
the effect of signing the consent.
3. The witness should keep a notebook in which she should write,
immediately after each interview a short note of the time and place
interview and of any special features, eg. special questions asked
mother and answers given. This notebook should be preserved, preferably
at least until the child would be 12 years old, as it could be a
document for production if the validity of a consent were questioned
is the mothers legal right to alternatives mentioned nor the social workers duty to warn the mother of the psychological consequences
of her action. However great care has been made to protect the social worker in the event of litigation by the mother.
In planning for medical and surgical care, participation of parents
mothers who are minors, and their consent to certain medical or
procedures, may be necessary.
It should not be assumed that conflicts are minimised and relinquishment
made easier when the mother does not see her child. Guilt and later
emotional disturbances may be intensified under such circumstances.
Active participation in the whole process of giving up the child
can make it
easier for some mothers to face and deal realistically with their
"The validity of giving preferences to childless couples is currently
questioned....(This position may, in fact, stem from the original
of adoption - to provide children for the childless, persists
as a way
of favouring those considered to be most deserving of a child.)
"these agencies will have the increased responsibility in arousing
community interest in a good standard of adoption practice,
and also in
attempting to ensure that constructive and pertinent information
published rather than highly emotional articles and talks
adoption on the wrong basis.
Any education the agencies do attempt should pay great dividends
in further increasing
the community's acceptance of adoption as a very
natural process for childless couples, and so greatly enhance
an adopted child's
chance of complete assimilation into its family and among it's peers."
went on to say how it was now known that:
It was not helpful to the mother and can be destructive to
the child, to
require the unmarried mother to keep her child with her while
she was in
present feeding knowledge and practice make it unnecessary
keep the child with the mother for the sake of breast feeding.
forgot that that practice had been forbidden from the mid 1950's.
the adoption process was so focused on meeting the emotional needs of the infertile woman, adoption literature encourages
adoptive mothers to take hormones and use breast pumps to try to breast feed the adopted child although there is no nutrients
in their milk to give them a sense of the child
of them' in an attempt to allow the adoptive mother to better `attach' and accept the child as hers.
the mother whose breasts were full of milk created naturally by the birth of her child had been given carcinogenic hormones
to suppress her lactation.
may also account for why many if not most adopted children reunited with their mothers, suffer from asthma or other bronchial
It is also
being noticed since reunions that many adopted children have spent their infancy being administered Phenurgen during infancy
as a sedative to control breathing and get to sleep. The antibodies which can only be found in mothers milk (colostrum) to
build up and protect the baby's immune system had been officially denied our little `b' grade babies - in their best interest
and other Assistance
It is also
interesting to note that nowhere in the new manual does it explain to
worker the financial benefits and other assistance legally available which would allow the mother to keep her child, other
than one line on the very last page which refers to pre birth sickness benefits, is reduced merely to:
'Financial Assistance........as required.'
Greatest Swindle of All Time
has its own wisdom and its own truth.
If an illusion
is presented to you and you
it, you can find out that the body does
it. The body will tell you it is not
listen to the order and the harmony of
as an integrated whole. Your body is a
If you present a lie to the body
it will resist it.'
were led to believe the sacrifice of their own needs and happiness was for the sake of their child's future wellbeing. That
very love was the weapon used against them to separate their child from them.
life of regret, pain, and suffering, many have come to realise that they had been nailed onto their cross unnecessarily.
to come to terms with the realisation that they have been swindled out of their baby and out of their own happiness, not for
their baby's sake afterall. but that they were used as breeders simply to produce the commodity needed to provide a `wonderful'
community service of making families for infertile couples, which would not have otherwise existed.
As one woman
was their own problem. It should not have
The following passages from a meeting of adoption professionals is certain indication that the promotion of the adoption of
newborns has been based on false advertising, misrepresentation, devious promotion and an outright lie. The perfect swindle.
mothers fertility and her child have been deviously exploited in the industry's quest to obtain suitable babies to fulfil
their ultimate objective of providing `biologically matched' infants to their primary clients - the childless couple.
whatsoever to do with the child's best interest (as also established in adoption regulations and law), the horror of such
human engineering is that our children were then expected to comply with the demands of the `created lie', at the expense
of their own emotional well being their reality,
and their own autonomy.
and well known mental health problems in many adopted children, being expected to live their life in pretence, is a result
of the schizophrenic existence the construct of adoption demands of them.
paper addresses eloquently, the true purpose of adoption, giving us an understanding of the enormous anxiety levels created
in the child
by his need
to be perfect, and therefore acceptable, in order to protect himself from rejection. A huge responsibility for any child to
Child is Unadoptable
to General Meeting
Children's Welfare Association of Victoria
Friday October 27, 1972
the Rev. Graeme Gregory, B.A.,Dip Soci. Stud.M.S.W.
Methodist Department of Child Care
Traditional adoption practice has been based on certain assumptions
regarding both the needs of the adoptive parents and the role of the
For most of these adoptive parents and also for the community, adoption
the second best to having a family of their own. This is not meant to
unkind judgement, but rather a realistic approach to adoption motivation.
Not many adoptive parents consciously choose adoption as an alternative
having children of their own.
This group of traditional adopters, then, inevitably seek in the adopted
child a biological expression of themselves.
They hope that the child will `fit into their family'.
They do not want the child to be different.
They find it difficult to accept the child of another nationality, particularly
They have difficulty in accepting a child who has anything more than a
Unconsciously adoptive parents are seeking to have no break in their
This view of adoption is related to our view of parenthood. If we seek
children as a biological expression of ourselves, if parenthood is primarily
matter of begetting and conceiving, gestating and giving birth, then we
want to relate any alternative ways of becoming a parent to this primary
One of our problems in adoption is that we have tried, both from the agency
point of view, and from the adoptive parent point of view, to provide
only the nurturing function, but a function as near as possible related
the biological one. Thus often in the interests of the acceptance of the
adoptive parents, specify narrowly, the sort of child they wish to adopt,
and agencies bend over backwards to match child and adoptive family.
"...an adoption agency has the responsibility not only of placement of
children, but also toward, for instance the childless couple whose needs
no longer be met through adoption if there is a scarcity of infants without
problems for adoption."
I couldn't watch you as you grew from baby into child.
never felt you at my breast, or held you as you smiled.
Nor changed your tiny diapers, and wiped your little bum,
Others took away my right to ever be your mum.
But let me tell you darling, although we never met,
I loved you with a vengeance, and still I love you yet.
To just have held you once my love, would maybe make it right,
Then maybe I'd stop thinking of you morning, and night.
To touch your downy little head, and count those tiny toes,
To whisper in your shell like ear, and kiss your button nose.
Would somehow fill the emptiness and loss I feel inside,
Perhaps erase the aching, and all the nights I cried.
I'm wondering who's hugging you, puts bandaids on your knees
Who's teaching you your manners, the thank you's and the please?
Who's watching your first footy game (that's if you are a boy)?
Or sitting in your ballet class filled with pride and joy?
Are you brave when you fall down, or do you scream and shout?
Do you sleep with a night light, or insist they turn it out?
Have you got a dolly, or perhaps a ragged bear?
Do they tell you about me, or don't they really care?
The answers to these questions, are coming hard and fast
Because my precious daughter, I've discovered you at last.
Not within a family, as you were meant to be,
Not with a loving mummy, or on a daddy's knee,
With a grandma or a grandpa, a sister, maybe brothers,
No, that kind of happy life was only meant for others.
You were in an institution from the time that you were born.
You never had a family, no-one to care at all.
A group of perfect strangers said that you were not quite right,
`Not fit for adoption", so they hid you out of sight.
Who knows the life you've suffered, the childhood that you've had
The memories you harbour, of the good times and the bad.
These things we'll never know, because you cannot speak,
Your eyes are filled with knowing, but communication's weak.
Your gentle voice says `yes' and `no', `tea' and `go away'
And a brand new word you learned to say just the other day.
You looked at me with big brown eyes (you always knew I'd come)
Reached out a hand and touched my tears,
And softly whispered - `MUM'.
mother and her aunty Sue had spent the following ten years after the adoption, contacting the agency asking
for information about the child and if they could have the child back if the adoption placement broke down, only to be constantly
told the child was happy and successfully adopted. Racheal is twenty five.
Where it Began to
3rd Feb 1972
The Adoption Business
"Our babies Arrived"
"Western Australia lays
claim to a dazzling waiting
of four months. In both Queensland
and New South
adoptive parents have to be prepared for a wait
of anything between 9 and 15 months. In Victoria between
18 months and two years. In South Australia parents wait
up to 15 months for a boy and two years for a girl.
Tasmania, the waiting
timefor a boy is 6 months and a
girl 9 months. In South Australia they may elect to know
the identity of the parents of their child. The child's
are not told of the identity of the adoptive parents."
12th June 1972
Streamlining adoption procedures
(hospital doctor), Subiaco,
re article -
The average couple's wait.
Perhaps data on the average time a baby languishes
in hospital before being adopted might be more
relevant than the average couple's wait, for the
first two months of a baby's existence represents
a large and most important part of his/her emotional
development in forming the mother-child relationship.
Although prospective parents in Western Australia might
have the shortest average wait, this possibility reflects
that the supply has exceeded the demand, as it is not
unusual for normal babies to be relegated to foster
homes at three or four months of age, with no
prospective parents in sight."
4th January 1972
3 Lovely Babies
(but too old for adoption)
by Bonneur D Mirror 4/1/72
a Child Welfare Home three delightful baby girls wait hope
fully for parents who are prepared to adopt them. The babies
have been available for adoption for some time. Though there's
a waiting list of two years for baby girls for adoption,
there have been no takers for any one of this winsome trio.
Everyone it seems, wants to adopt newborns. Arlette and Bettina
are 12 months old and Josie six months, but they are already
They are in this category because their mothers took some
months to make the decision to sign them over for adoption".
27th November 1973
The Girls Who Give Up
By Anne Dupre
more single girls are keeping their babies. Since the
mothers pension came in, this July, girls get $34
week and are entitled to earn up to $26 a week without
affecting their pension. After a girl
has given birth at
Crown Street, she is
asked if she would like to see her baby.
Most girls do. The Adoption Act... says that no undue influence may
exerted on a mother to allow the adoption of her child. Said
Roberts. It is a tremendous decision which nobody makes
a greatdeal of heart searching."
we influence her? The answer is that we don’t persuade the
but we are aware that a lot of people will influence her.
friends, and her father and her mother, to start with."
soon does the heartbreak of giving up your child ease?" I
Pam Roberts. "The first six months are the worst", she
Well before 1971, the adoption of newborns
had become well entrenched as a "wonderful community service," being in the child's best interest. But it was especially in
the best interest of healthy white newborn babies.
With so many being harvested from their
mothers during birth, no market was available for the not quite so perfect newborns, and by 1971, according to their new Manual
of Adoption Practice, it was decided that all unwed mothers should be advised before birth, that if her baby was disabled
or otherwise unadoptable, the mother may need to be recontacted and offered financial assistance to enable her to keep her
unmarketable baby herself.
I suspect it was the first indication
that something was going terribly wrong with the balancing of their social cleansing campaign.
Having taken so many babies, by 1972 the
industry began trying to off load their surplus stock onto already created adoptive families, as institutions were becoming
overcrowded with not perfect enough to be adopted ones, or babies slightly older than new, coloured or redheads - all unnecessarily
traumatised by maternal deprivation - as well as the many older adopted children having been dumped back onto the system when
the need for a child was no longer required, or the child didn't fix the marital problems after. It had become clear that
only special adopters could cope with or attach to less than ideal children, with others having tried to return the child
a year or so after placement when for example, the child was later discovered to be deaf, or cried too much.
This period saw TV news reports and media
articles of adopting parents suing the Department for having been given a disabled child when they had been promised a perfect
one.Chilling headlines screamed how one neurotic adopter wanted to take action
against the Department after having been accidentally given the wrong child and made to return "their child" after having
had it for six hours. Although they had been immediately offered another one, it was refused, as "it wasn't their child."
Something was going terribly wrong.So in 1973 the Whitlam Government re-introduced the benefit to single mothers, gave
it it's own name and brought it into line with CPI.
A Professional Opinion
The following `professional opinion' is
a prime example of the conflicted thinking that has permeated the adoption and subsidiary fields.
What the good doctor has described has
paralleled his example of the shattering effects on the chimpanzee newborn orphan with that of the adopted child - although
he has failed to fully recognise it.
Instead he has damned the natural mother
as insignificant (although she was important to the chimp for his survival) and idealised the substitute mother
(although the chimp still died when adopted
by siblings), his paper suggests that the substitute mother has problems accepting a less than perfect infant
(rejection), and the acting out of the
adopted child seems to parallel that of the chimpanzee.
Grunseit also mentions the need for more
scientific research into the problems associated with adoption. But after fifty years of expecting adoptees to comply with
the idealised myth of how they were supposed to adjust, how many more lives have to be lost or emotionally devastated before
it is recognised that a newborn needs his own mother whose body is biologically and physically transferred by the act giving
birth to accommodate his emotional and physical survival, irrespective of her marital status.
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