Adoption History What They Knew

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What they Knew and they still promoted 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

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