Dian Wellfare Adoption Rights Campaigner (1951-2008)

"A Sanctioned Evil" Part 5

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


Continuation  of Origins Submission to NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Adoption Practices
Written and researched by Dian Wellfare


Family Involvement


John L. Brown No 5 (1977):1


                       " Man has the capacity to pass on from generation to

                       generation the wrongs that he has suffered whether

                       they are overt or covert wrongs. And there is a whole

                       generation of people who have suffered from the

                       inhumanity of our social service system because they

                       were poor, because they were helpless, because they

                       were young, because they had no advocates, because 

                       they were treated unjustly, because they were treated 

                       as though they had wronged people by having a child.

                       We now have to call those social service systems to task." 



Precedings of the Second Australian Conference on Adoption

Melbourne May 1978

The Rights of the Relinquishing Parents

Victoria Mather

Social Worker, Pregnancy Help, Brisbane


Mather clearly describes the animosity, disregard, and deceit the adoption worker holds toward the unmarried mother when she asks why this woman is so castigated by those in the adoption field who see her merely as a `bad girl',

and although she needs to talk, no-one is prepared to listen to her:


      " The adoption agencies only want her baby and `haven't time' for

      interviews _ the father of the child has usually disappeared in a cloud of

      dust ....or makes remarks such as "have an abortion" or "are you sure

      it's mine". Humiliation piled on humiliation. Put her away somewhere _ the

      worse the condition the better_ she has to realise `the consequences' of

      her action" _ don't put her with a family because that would generate guilt

      on her own family _ reinforcing their inability to cope.


While thousands of mothers sent letters and gifts to the agency for many years and sometimes decades, and being told they would either be passed on to her child or kept at the agency until the child enquires personally, Mather further exposes that deceit and disregard of the mother as she clarifies the contempt the agency worker holds towards her gifts of love:


      She asks if she can pass on a gift _ an outfit that she has crocheted _ she

      asks if the child will be told she loves him _ we know gift and letter goes

      into the wastebasket _ we hear adoption workers telling us that when they

      give information to adoptive parents, one said "I don't want to hear it _

      from this day forward this child is "ours' _ we don't want to know about its



Not only is the mother demonised by the adoption agent and the adoptive parents, but the construct of adoption can only function successfully with the generation of a child's hatred or indifference towards his own mother. Should the child declare feelings of love or need for his mother the adoption placement is indicated to have failed, as Mather explains: 


      Then we read or hear about the adoptee who wants to find its mother_not

      caring who gets hurt _ the adoptee who confronts her mother _ sees

      perhaps a lower standard of "financial" circumstances and says "Thank

      God I was adopted".


      And this is the ultimate _ the last stone _ in the long series of stones which

      have been thrown at her _ her child whom she has given over in love _ to

      be curious _ finds her _ then rejects her. How heartless can the world be?

      Who has to answer to this? The adoption agencies have revelled in their

      experience of `playing God'_ taking children and giving them.


      Adoptees are claiming their right to know their origins _  the mother has a

      right to now that she has made the right decision _ she is basing her trust

      on the adoption agency to place her child in an environment better than

      she feels she herself can provide. Why don't the adoption agencies reaffirm

      her trust? _ why can't they tell her how and under what circumstances her

      child has been placed? Why don't they afford her some dignity? _ why

      don't they like her? _ why can't they accept her?  and are all their

      misapprehension’s, anxieties and fears passed onto the adoptive parents

      who in turn pass on to the child this nebulous cloud of misapprehension?

       ....Although the mother forms one third of the triangle - no-one wants to

      now her."


The First National American Adoption Congress

Margaret McDonald Lawrence

Washington D.C. May 4 1979


No-one could have encapsulated the need of the adoption industry to manufacture the demonisation of the natural mother as the most pivotal and necessary requirement in the promotion of, and social acceptance of adoption

as Lawrence when she states how:


   In order to bring the issues surrounding the intermediary system into clear

   focus, it is necessary to examine the myths and motives that surround the

   adoption experience. Outsiders need to realise that social agencies not only

   control adoption procedures, but also control the information about the

   institution which is provided to the courts, the legislature and the public.

   It is the child welfare establishment that has provided the picture of

   birthmothers as indifferent - as mothers who abandon their unwanted

   children with a wish to remain forever hidden from them. They know that

   this is seldom true, but it helps to facilitate their work for the public to 

   believe this. Society does not dismiss the importance of the natural family as

   readily as the social planners, and so it is useful to portray relinquishing

   parents as different from caring parents.


   The birthmother must be different, an aberration; for if it were true that

   she had the same degree of love for her child as all other mothers, the good

   of adoption would be overwhelmed by the tragedy of it. Adoptive parents are

   somewhat relieved of guilt if they can be assured that the birthparents truly

   did not want their child; for, under those circumstances, it is possible to

   feel entitled to claim the child of others.  Neither society nor the mother who

   holds the child in her arms wants to confront the agony of the mother from

   whose arms that same child was taken. But that agony is real, as we have

   come to learn through our experience with reunions.'


Adoptions - 1980's


So certain were they of a constant supply of babies, the industry continued taking non-refundable application fees (deposits) on "unwanted babies" who were yet to be conceived. And although the baby-well began drying up in 1976, by 1986, 2,000 applications had been accepted, with only 155 babies

being allotted. Apparently few were prepared to take older children.      


The 1980's saw a change in the treatment of the unwed mother, only insofar as no longer was the more overt hospital practice of coercion as apparent as in the past. New, less obvious practices in at least one unmarried mothers home connected with Centacare commenced a weekly routine of inviting a panel of adoptive parents to barrage young pregnant girls in St Anthony's unmarried mothers home on the positive aspects of adoption.

Simultaneously they would be forced to endure the psychological torture of having to watch live videos of two types of abortions in action to convince them that adoption was the better way to go. It is not known if this shocking abuse  of young pregnant girls, already in trauma, and too young to psychologically cope with such visual images, had stopped.


Health Commission  of N.S.W.

Policy Warning



The more abusive hospital practices began to change after 1982, when the Health Commission of NSW (having smelt a rat within the industry some years earlier after one such case had already been heard in the Court), eventually distributed a warning to every hospital within the State of New South Wales advising them to clean up their act, and get an adoption policy together as soon as possible in relation to the treatment of unmarried mothers, as their practices were contravening the Adoption of Children Act 1965 on mental health and legal grounds, their staff and the hospital could be at risk of litigation should such mothers take action.


Once this occurred the numbers of adoptions plummeted.


The following policy warning finally put the cat amongst the pigeons when it was realised that they may be at risk of litigation and made to stand accountable for their crimes. It reads:

The Health Commission

Policy on Adoption

Dr Friend circular No:82/297

September 1 1982.

        Roderick McEwin Chairman.



        "In the early 1960's the view was commonly held that it was in the

         mother's interest that she not see the child she was planning to

         surrender for adoption, and policies were thus followed which

         prevented her seeing the child. The hospitals themselves did not   doubt

         that they had a legal right to adopt such policies which were rarely

         questioned by the staff and by the mothers themselves.


         A single mother whatever her age is the sole legal guardian of her child

         and remains so until a consent to adoption is signed. She therefore has

         the rights of access to her child and cannot legally be denied this.


         An adoption consent may be proved invalid under the terms of the

         Adoption of Children Act, 1965 (section 31 (b) if the mother has been

         subject to duress or undue influence. Refusing a mother permission to

         see or handle her child prior to signing a consent, or putting obstacles

         in her way of exerting this right, may readily be interpreted as duress

         if the validity of an adoption consent is being contested. One challenge

         to the validity of a consent on these grounds has already been heard in

         the New South Wales Supreme Court. In the same context any comments

         or actions by staff members which the mother could see as pressure to

         persuade her to place her baby for adoption run the risk of later

         bearing the legal interpretation of duress. Anyone found in these

         circumstances to have exerted "undue pressure' is liable to prosecution

         under section 51 of the Act.


        "It is the experience of adoption workers that most women planning to

         give up a child now see their child. The majority of these do sign a

         consent and allow the adoption to proceed. Thus contrary to common







        2.1 Need for a written policy

        Each hospital should devise a written policy, easily accessible to all

        hospital staff dealing with adopting mothers.(I think they meant

        surrendering mothers)

        2.2 LEGAL ASPECTS


        2.2.1 The legal rights under Common Law of the mother prior to signing

        a consent to adoption must be recognised as being no less than those

        possessed by any other mother.


        2.2.2. Staff should be aware of the legal complications that may arise in

        denying or interfering with these rights both in relation to the security

        of the child’s adoption and to their own vulnerability to prosecution.


        2.2.3. A part of the mothers rights as guardian of her child is her

        right to information concerning any medical problems or physical

        deformity suffered by the child, or any fact which could influence the

        decision to surrender the child.



        3.1. Before the signing of the consent:


        3.1.1. At delivery the relationship between the mother and the child is

        clearly recognisable to staff. There should therefore be no bar to the

        mother being shown and/or handling her child at this time, should she

        wish to do so, providing this is medically feasible.


        3.1.2. The usual practice is for the baby to be taken to a nursery away

        from the mother, shortly after birth. While this seems to be in line with

        the needs and desires of most mothers considering adoption, it should

        not prevent the hospital agreeing to a mother's request to care for her

        child in other ways, eg. rooming-in, breastfeeding.


        3.1.3. When the baby is being cared for in a hospital nursery, the

        mother should know where the baby is located and be informed of hospital

        procedures for visiting the baby.


        3.1.5 Where the baby has any abnormality, illness or other medical

        problem, the mother must be informed. Otherwise there is a danger of

        the mother's consent being invalid.




        A contributing factor in this was the identification by the Standing

        Committee of a number of practices occurring in some public hospitals in

        relation to adoption matters which are contra-indicated on either mental

        health or legal grounds. These include:-    * Undue pressure being placed on

        unmarried women to surrender their    infants for adoption (an offence under   

        section 31 of the Adoption of Children Act)

      * Unwillingness on the part of hospital personnel to grant the same rights

        of information and contact with their infants as women who are

        considering surrendering their infants for adoption as are accorded

        other women.




       "Of the 356 infants of less than three months placed with adoptive parents

        in 1979-80 ( a similar figure is expected for 1980-81) almost all were

        surrendered while the biological mother was still in hospital. It is not

        possible to estimate what percentage of these women had unhelpful

        experiences while hospitalised: the problem is reported to be small but

        persistent."Family Involvement



In Defence of Adoption 1985

Margaret McDonald

Adoption Branch

NSW Department of Youth and Community Services


Caroline Sutton

Probation and Parole Services

Department of Corrective services


Helen Dillon

Catholic Adoption Agency


`Adoption and the Relinquishing Mother'


MacDonald and Co., claim two events of the early 1980's informed the industry of the effects of adoption on the relinquishing mother. One being the establishment of the Australian Relinquishing Mothers Society, founded at the 1982  National Adoption Conference, and the publication in 1984 study by the Western Australian researchers Winkler and Van Keppel `Relinquishing Mothers in Adoption'.


However, as is always the response of those in the adoption field, the experts, once caught out, manage to justify their position. The fact of the matter is that the everlasting grief of the mother has always been known, (it is the reason she had to be warned of the psychological harm, and the risk of dire future regret if deciding upon adoption - as per their own legislation). Their own social work records, now 20-40 years old, readily available under Freedom of Information, constantly refer to mothers contacting the agency months and years after the adoption, still grieving for their babies and not being able to get on with their lives. Using `divide and conquer' tactics, each and every one of the mothers were being told how she was the only one who hasn't gotten on with her life, indicating there must be something wrong with her.


Their old adoption literature, eg. Adoption, by Margaret Kornitzer 1958, describes how a mother grieves for, and shows concern for her child, for many years after separation. Their own more recent literature, as described earlier in this submission by Berromeo, explains how a mother needs to mourn the lost child, and equates adoption separation to a death experience because of the irreversible nature of adoption.  The simple fact is that the adoption experts did not chose to acknowledge the mothers grief prior to the 1980's as it suited their objectives to ignore it.  Even once it was formally acknowledged it made no difference. Little changed.


The only reason her grief was eventually acknowledged was because the industry was unable to keep the mother isolated and silenced any longer. With the evolution of the Australian Relinquishing Mothers Association (ARMS), the industry found she was no longer able to be controlled and oppressed, and so, pretending to be surprised that anyone had actually suffered at their hand, and in their attempt to protect their industry from charges of professional neglect, the industry justified itself by declaring how they had been totally oblivious to the suffering adoption had imposed upon the mothers, until of course, the early 1980's. 


The lack of professionalism in the adoption field is indicated by the following attempt by the authors, to justify the effects of adoption on the mother with the continued use of antiquated and irrational theories by Leontine Young, although debunked in the 1960's as nonsense, was still handy to use through the mid 1980's, in helping agents justifying their practice. That anyone could even contemplate the concept of a mother losing her own baby forever as a "growing point", or that giving away their own babies would resolve conflicts with ones mother shows the utter insanity of the industry as the following shows:


Nevertheless there is strong evidence to suggest that, as with any major life crisis which is satisfactorily resolved, the surrender of a child for adoption may represent a growing point from which a woman may achieve greater self-awareness, often through resolution of previously unexplored conflicts, most notably in her relationship with her own parents.


The adoption experts so wanted to believe that a mother was capable of making a rational decision to willingly give away her own baby, they lost sight of the female human condition altogether in their need to promote adoption. Even their predecessors of earlier decades considered the separation of a mother and baby as a tragic but necessary separation given the stigma of her illegitimate status. The new scientific approach to adoption, allowed long term adoption workers to get lost in their own mythology and rather forget mother

nature altogether, as the following use of Ericsons work shows:


 Statements about the inability of a woman ever to accept having given  up a child tend to ignore what is known about personality development.


The work of Ericson, for example, emphasises the importance of the successful completion of life tasks, identifying the stage of generativity as that at which the individual has the capacity for proper parenting, the stage at which  a child can be seen as a separate person with its own specific needs for nurture rather than as an extension of the mothers own need for dependent care.


And further: this next passage, while acknowledging the wrongs of past practice, indicate their belief that if the mother is freely permitted to see her child it will allow her to grieve and move on, rather than acknowledging that the cost of adoption, in human terms, has been just too high.


There are still some mothers whose way of coping with an adoption

surrender is to attempt to block out the experience. Agencies may find themselves working with women who are striving painfully after a lapse of years to come to terms with a grief they were unable to face at the time.


Theold practice of denying a mother access to a child she planned to surrender has died out. The right of the mother to see her child if she wishes to do so is now freely acknowledged, but her right to choose not to do so has also to be accepted, even when it runs contrary to our current professional nsights.


Additionally, the adoption industry has continued to theorise and make it up as they go along, regarding any understanding of the mother, in such a way as to make themselves feel comfortable in their profession.


They continue to contradict all previous knowledge known to them by their own Departments as the need requires. eg. This paper also relies on the writers' explanation that uses the many mothers who contact an agency years after the surrender, to let the agent know she `did the right thing' as an indication of proof that there are mothers who have accepted the surrender of their child. Whereas in 1966, their own literature on the issue of why mothers contact the agency, was known to be because the agency was the mothers last connection with her lost baby. It was seen as an indication that she could not let go and get on with her life. (see The natural mothers need after placement, V Nichols 1966). Logic would indicate that a mother who remains in contact with an agency, has not only not moved on, but that she is in continual need of being reassured that `she did the right thing'.




New South Wales Parliament

Review of Adoption Policy and Practice

`Options for Reform'



As a result of the Health Commission's policy warning on adoption practice, a review of adoption policy and practice was commissioned by Frank Walker MP., then Minister for Youth and Community Services in 1984 and reported on in   Adoption: Options for Reform 1985,  advised the adoption industry that:


         In future, before a consent is taken, relinquishing parents

         should receive counselling and written information on the

         implication of adoption, alternatives to adoption and

         community support services which can assist them if they

         choose to keep their child.


         The provision of written information before a consent is

         signed will provide the opportunity for relinquishing parents

         to consider the issues at home with their family and friends,

         and will reduce the likely-hood of a misunderstanding. 


The written information, when it did arrive many years later was inadequate,

inappropriate, uninformative and not in keeping with the meaning of the Ministerial recommendations that were meant to ensure that no misunderstanding of the decision was possible.




Access Adoption

At a Meeting of Approved Adoptive Applicants



Finally beginning to realise that the child's needs should also matter, the

adoption industry eventually introduced  `Accessed adoption'. This new concept was introduced to allow for an agency-controlled information sharing to be passed between the natural mother and adoptive child.


Given to believe she would have contact with her child, is what encouraged some young mothers to accept adoption as the only solution to her life crisis. Although by the eighties she could select parents from a portfolio of three or four prospective adoptive applicants allowed her to feel she had some control over the arrangements for her child. She would select the new parents on the promises the adoptive parents made to her regarding ongoing contact.


However, she was usually not told by the agency that there was no legislation passed to force adopting parents to honour their promises to her and it was usual for any exchange of letter of photo's to cease as soon as the adoption was legally finalised through the Supreme Court. In end effect, accessed adoption ended up no better than the closed system.


Extracts of the following paper presented at a meeting to approved adoptive applicants, outline that adoption has seen the child's interests as always  secondary to the needs of the prospective adopters.  


     "Access adoption is the final step in truly acknowledging and attempting

     to meet your child's needs. It is the externalising of the inside truth

     of adoption and that is the crux of the fear and threat that many adoptive

     parents feel. The truth is that whether you embrace the truth openly or

     not, the truth will remain, and the truth is that there are two sets of

     parents and both in different ways are important to your child.


     What has brought our community to the point of acknowledging this? Why

     are we all being asked to confront the truth? I would suggest that as with

     all change, it has occurred because the old ways haven't worked out the

     way they were expected to.


     What is scary is that unlike the past, we cannot construct simple answers

     nor have neat black and white solutions. We have learned from the past

     that those aren't the best answers and that the cost in human terms has

     been very high.


    So what are we dealing with in adoption? Firstly we are looking for a

    family for a child who needs one. The implication of this is that there is

    no longer a blurring of the lines between the child's needs and the needs

    of the infertile couple. Up until very recently those were seen largely as

    synonymous. Access adoption is perhaps the most sophisticated attempt our

    community has made to meet what is now being acknowledged as the needs of

    the child"


Human Rights Commission

Discussion Paper No, 5


Dr Cathy McDermott

"The emotional havoc wreaked on natural mothers of

adopted children is frightening and it reaches into

every other relationship they have with subsequent

children and partners."

Shawyer 1979


The Human Rights Commission identified the coercive practices of the adoption industry back in 1984, when taking submission for the inquiry into the introduction of the Adoption Information Act 1990 but perhaps because it was outside their terms of reference, none of it was made public. While the Commission clearly determined adoption practices as being coercive and discriminating against the unmarried mother, it fell short of telling the full story - that not only was such treatment discriminatory but that it was also highly illegal on all counts.And while the level of grief had been fully acknowledged by the Commission, by time the Adoption Information Act was passed in 1991, no grief counsellors had been set into place to help the mothers cope with the pain they were in. Instead, the very same social workers who participated in past abusive practices, had been employed to counsel their victims yet again - and yet again perpetuating another shocking professional conflict of interest upon the mother.


These very counsellors, having no training in grief and trauma issues, instead, mediated and controlled the reunions between mother and child. Needing to cover and protect themselves, not only did they not advise mothers of their own participation in past practices, but diverted her need to speak of her past experience by directing all counselling to the present day (for the comfort of their own conscious no doubt), classifying mothers who dared to express the illegality of their treatment as not owning up to, and taking responsibility for `their decision', negating and stifling the truth and  perpetuating further abuse and suffering. Post adoption counselling is the only area where so-called professionals who should know better, have the audacity to deliberately use counselling procedures which themselves

accommodate the promotion of this myth rather than dealing with known reality.


Additionally, one submission declared how:


      `It was assumed that, because bearing a child outside

       marriage was held to be shameful and immoral, the single

       mother would not possess the normal emotions of a mother

       towards her child.'


Reflecting how the adoption industry has always conjured up irrational, unresearched concepts and theories about the mother to promote adoption, so did they then begin conjuring up excuses for their actions once the mothers began to speak out about their inability to recover from the loss of their baby.


Again logic tells us that if this shameless industry really did believe that the unmarried mother did not possess normal emotions toward her child as quoted above, they would not have bothered to introduce the practice of forbidding eye contact between mother and child to prevent bonding.


Additionally, the industry is more than aware of the thousands of grieving mothers who regularly contacted the adoption agency wanting their babies back or asking for a modicum of help and a little information about their child. They got nothing but lies. They would make up stories of having contacted the adopters and would tell the mother the child was fine and happy. Many mothers sent gift annually to their child for decades. The child would never receive them. The agency would help themselves to the gifts or throw them out.


Additionally, those who promised her she would forget and get on with her life once she signed the consent, comfort themselves by believing this is actually possible. and


                                       Re hospital practice -

                                  restricting access to the child;


        `The unreasonableness of rules restricting access to children likely to be

         put up for adoption is arguable on the grounds that such restrictions,

         rather than helping the mother to make a responsible decision, are in

         fact designed to make the decision for her.'


Report No. 23

Review of the A.C.T. Adoption of Children Ordinance 1965

November 1986


By and large the following passage from the Commission's Report identifies what has been known in the industry all along, all except the mother herself.

While subsequent post adoption counseling was allowing the mother to  try to `forgive herself' (see Keys Young Report on Post Adoption Resource Centre August 1994) for her adoption `decision', NEVER ONCE was any mother told that she had nothing to forgive herself for. NEVER ONCE was any mother made to understand that the decision had actually been made for her. NEVER ONCE was any mother advised of what her legal rights had been. NEVER ONCE was it explained to her that her treatment was illegal. NEVER ONCE was she afforded any peace from her torture. NEVER ONCE was she exonerated of her `crime'. NEVER ONCE was she afforded her dignity. NEVER ONCE was the searching child told how his/her mother had been routinely treated. NEVER ONCE has

the searching child been told how mothers were never given a choice.

NEVER ONCE was the child's pain and anger in having spent a life feeling unwanted been alleviated by being told the truth.




The Commission declared:


      "Adoption procedures have also largely disregarded the rights of the

      parent considering relinquishment to be made aware of her alternative

      option to adoption, and to full and disinterested support in arriving at a

      decision, The many submissions received from natural mothers who   

      relinquished children for adoption, describing their unresolved grief and

      sense of loss, bear testimony to the failure of bureaucratic procedures to

      protect their rights."


To have been fully aware of the crimes committed against unmarried mothers, as per the Commission's report, and not advising the victims of such routine criminal behaviour, I believe, constitutes a gross obstruction of Justice on the part of all concerned.  This contemptuous attitude in treating their severely traumatised clients like fools, instead of assisting their recovery, is synonymous with the behaviour of the entire adoption industry and must be addressed.


Medical Journal of Australia

Vol.144 Feb 3 1986

Psychological Disability in Women

who Relinquish a Baby for Adoption.

by John T. Condon.

Department of Psychiatry Flinders Medical Centre S.A.


    "... existing evidence suggests that the experience of relinquishment

    renders a woman at high risk of psychological and possible physical

    disability. Moreover, very recent research indicates that actual disability

    or vulnerability may not diminish even decades after the event. All women

    who express the intention during pregnancy of relinquishing a baby should

    be offered consultation with a psychiatrist or other professional person who

    is experienced in this area......such a referral can be an important

    preventative measure, since any such woman falls into a high risk group for

    subsequent depressive or psychosomatic illness.


    The medical profession cannot be considered entirely blameless for the

    trauma which many of these women experienced in less enlightened times,

    and should endeavour at least to understand, if not empathise with, the

    sense of alienation which many of them experience towards doctors in



The medical profession was fully aware of the severe implications of relinquishment, and continued to ignored it, the adoption industry also continued to ignore their own duty of care toward their client and continued to promote adoption without warning of the known, severe nature of the mental anguish she would live with for the rest of her life..


Irrespective of the illegal nature of the adoption procedures conducted over the last fifty years, I question how any civilized Government could be legally allowed to continue to promote and sanction a procedure which has been well  known to cause severe psychological harm upon its own citizens.


To continue the promotion of the separation of mother and child and supplying a little follow up grief counseling, would be tantamount to continuing the use of the thalidomide pill and merely providing calipers for the child.

Such professional negligence and breach of duty of care toward anyone other than an unmarried mother would not be tolerated in any other field


Adoption in the 1990's


As the regulations determined by the Child Welfare Act 1939 have never been repealed, and as the Child Welfare Act effectively made only certain alterations and additional protection clauses in reference to the unmarried mother and her child, and  as no new legislation has as yet been enacted through an act of Parliament, the laws and regulation relating to the protection of the unmarried mother in the 1990's remains the same as were in place fifty years ago.


She had to insist upon adoption before her consent could be taken.


She was not to be persuaded or coerced into sign an adoption consent.


She was to be warned of the psychological harm such a course of action may   cause her.


She was to be provided with all available assistance to enable her to keep her child.




And yet although the Department of Community Services eventually provided the recommended written information booklet as per recommended in 1985 by the Committee reviewing Policy and Practice, it is inappropriate, unhelpful, does not warn mothers of the very well known consequences of permanent separation to either herself or her child. It implies that the grief the mother may experience will dissipate in time with counselling, which is contrary to internationally respected Australian research by Winkler and Van Keppel which states categorically, how mothers do not recover from the grief of losing a living child to adoption, that she will not get over her loss and that if anything it only intensifies with time.


It does not warn mothers of the pain and rage their child will endure through the stigma in being an adopted child. It does not warn mothers that there are no guarantees for their child's future well being, physical safety or emotional health.

After all the known potential risk factors for abuse, inherent in the non-biological relationship between step and foster parents - just as in the non-biological adoptive relationship - the mother is not being warned of the risks and contra-indications inherent in passing the care of her child over to strangers where there is also an absence of kinship.


It does not comply with the industry's regulations in running an adoption agency, to protect the mental health and wellbeing of their clients. It does not focus on the mothers right to keep her child. It does not outline all available assistance to enable a mother to keep her child. It depicts adoption as being the `responsible decision'. It labels her as a `birthmother' before she has even surrendered her child. It in no way ensures that there can be no misunderstanding on the part of the mother in regard to the consequences of adoption as per recommended.


NB Comparing the indepth policies and warnings involved in the counselling procedures surrounding all possible social and emotional consequences as outlined by the Health Department, PRIOR to making a decision to have an A.I.D.S. test, as per the A.I.D.S. Council of N.S.W., (just in case the verdict is positive) as against the biased promotion of adoption in light of all known mental health, and social consequences of surrendering a child to adoption, is a scandalous breach of responsibility on the part of the State in allowing the production of such literature, which contravenes legislation, to be given to biased and irresponsible staff.  




NEVER has any mother been warned of the very well known detrimental mental health and highly destructive emotional distress she would be inflicting upon her child as a result of adoption. (see Origins Submission No.3 for examples)


This negligent abuse to the well being of human beings would not be tolerated in any other licensed or legal field. Any adoption agency who continues to promote adoption separation, in light of the known harmful effects to both the mother and her child, is setting itself up for major litigation.


The adoption industry has misrepresented the use of the term `in the best interest of the child' to get away with the most severe forms of profession negligence and destruction of human life without a side ways glance. To use the `best interest of the child' to separate a child from a perfectly capable mother is contravening the law.


Negligent Adoption promotion in the 1990's


Although the industry had officially conceded ten years earlier that they acknowledge the longterm grief of the mother did not prevent them from seeking out alternative measures of promoting adoption in the 1990's.


A promotional Video put out by the Committee on Adoption and Permanent Care in 1993, called A Birthmothers Experience uses actors disguised as mothers to explain to prospective adopters the reasons mothers relinquish their children. The background music has the singer chanting "I know I did the right thing, I

know I did the right thing etc.


In 1992 the same Committee endorsed an adoption kit based on Edmond Mechs promotional propaganda, explaining how to encourage the young unsuspecting girls to surrender their babies to adoption. It was removed from distribution when it was brought to their attention that the promotion of adoption over the mother keeping her child contravenes the law.


The purpose of adoption seems no longer apparent in the 1990's,  when on the one hand, in a TV interview last year, the head of the Catholic adoption agency, Centacare, described adoption as "a noble act" on the part of the mother, but when asked in whose best interest adoption is, she was unable to answer the question.


The same agency regularly visits Catholic schools in their promotion of adoption and their quest for babies.


Open Adoption

Adoption is a Permanent Solution

to a Temporary Problem


Although the adoption legislators have acknowledged the disastrous emotional carnage left in the wake of the closed adoption system, once again, no form of research has even been considered let alone conducted into the new open form of adoption.


Any rational thinking person who thought for one minute how they would feel, having to spend the rest of their lives watching and hearing their own child, their own flesh and blood, calling total strangers with no biological tie, mummy, because they had gone through a temporary life crisis when they had been young, poor, and unsupported, when someone had recommended adoption as an option out of their situation, would realise the mental anguish and distress such a situation would eventually create in both the mother and the child.


The natural mothers in these open adoption situations are at the mercy of the goodwill of the adopting parents and end up becoming `the dancing bear', suppressing their own grief and rage, dancing to the tune of the piper, accepting crumbs, an hour here , a letter there, a forced smile, jumping through hoops, tolerating anything to avoid being put back in their cage, with no further contact to their child.


For others, the despair in having to see their child being raised by strangers after their temporary crisis is over, forces them to avoid any contact at all. And then they are accused of not being interested.


Just as the peak suicide rate in Australian women coincided with the peak adoption period, suicide is not uncommon among mothers who are part of the new open adoption practice. And according to Brother Alex McDonnell, of the 147 drug related suicides of homeless youth in the St Kilda area, 142 suicides were adoption related.

And still the legislators fail to acknowledge that the new concept of open adoption is also fraught with extreme mental health problems to its consumers.


lottery System


Adoptions in Victoria in the 1990's relies on a lottery system consisting of a three step procedure where, after recruiting hundreds of potential adoptive parents (having paid administrative fees according to their progress up the three tiered process) are culled down and eventually the successful applicants are given a number. These numbers are placed into a box (to be fair to all applicants) and the numbers drawn from the lottery system are the winners of the great baby prize, needing simply to then wait for an appropriate baby to be born. For the paid up losers, and with so few babies now available, the industry had discovered a new money spinner in prolonging and exploiting their loss and grief, by peddling false hope.



The best interest of the child

Adoptions Australia 1991-92

Child Welfare Series No 4

Introduction page 3.

Graham Angus/Katherine Wilkinson

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.


     "In recent years the emphasis in adoptions has changed from being  a service for couples wishing to adopt a child, to being a service for children.; the priority is now the welfare of the child (Stonehouse 1992)."



How could legislation have been contravened on  such a massive scale?


To explain how adoption regulations and the law were contravened on such a massive scale is, I believe, quite simple.


Firstly, because the unmarried mother has been seen as being so insignificant as a human being, no-one bothered comply with the law, protect her rights, or even stopped to consider that she might even have rights, and


Secondly, although the Australian Government introduced regulations into the Child Welfare Act 17 based on English law designed to enable a mother to keep her child, it simultaneously turned a blind eye, while the adoption industry followed the American code of adoption practice which consisted of punishing the mother by taking her child at birth, thus effectively contravening its own legislation.

Social Betrayal


Blaming the Victim,

by Lillian Ryan.

Pantheon Books,

A Division of Random House, New York, 1971.


        "it seems fair to say that unmarried motherhood is the mark, not of

        deviancy and degeneracy, but of victimisation. It is the visible sign and

        outcome of a total pattern of inequality in the distribution of, and access

        to, significant resources, and reflects the intent of the dominant majority

        to keep the poor in their place, insuring that the life of the poor is hard

        and precarious.....illegitimacy is functionally useful to society.


To  eliminate it would be to eliminate the raw material of the adoption

        process, whose products are sought after by childless middle class

        couples. The great surplus of unadopted illegitimate children is, by

        these standards, an untidy bi-product of the process,substandard

        material that is to be thrown back onto the resources of the hopelessly  inadequate Child Welfare and public assistance system.


        Society encourages illegitimacy not, as is generally thought, by

        encouraging premarital sex, but by discouraging responsible parenthood

        through making it impossible for the black and the poor to make

        responsible choices about parenthood. Until we make such responsible

        choices as possible for the poor girl as for the middle class daughters,

        we can only preserve our sense of righteousness by denying our own

        acts of oppression and deprivation, and blaming the victim."


Realising too late that she had been a victim of the ultimate betrayal, her shamed silence coming not from her out-of-wedlock pregnancy as is assumed, but from signing a document that surrendered her own baby to be exploited by a system that had preyed upon her vulnerable state, and offered her no option but adoption. It was that alone which resulted in a social stigma by far greater than becoming a sole parent could have ever been.  


Condemned by her community for her out-of wedlock pregnancy, betrayed by her own family, and deceived by an industry that promoted adoption as being in her child's best interest, society needed a scapegoat to justify the social raping of her womb during birth - and so the de-babied mother (often little more than a child herself) conveniently became:      "the sort of mother who could give away her own flesh and blood".


Simultaneously, the child in whose interest adoption was meant to be,

traumatised by having been snatched from his mother's womb as if a living stillbirth,  was to live with the pain in being led to believe his own mother willingly gave him away, resulting in oppression and a social rage that comes with the stigma of being labelled - an unwanted child.   


"They told me my son would live with the stigma of

illegitimacy if I kept him. What they failed to tell

me about adoption is that not only would he still have

 the stigma of being a bastard - but also that his own

mother didn't want him."

by W. Jacobs







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