The Revocation Period
Under British law and accordingly,
The Child Welfare Act 17, 1939:
The mother was the sole legal guardian of her child until the adoption order was made through the Supreme
Court. This meant that she could legally reclaim her child from the foster parents at any time prior to the adoption order
being made if her circumstances changed. The placement of a child with adopters was merely an interim placement and was not
Most mothers knew nothing of their right to reclaim their child. Most are still unaware.
Nevertheless, as adopters began to claim how they could not bond with the child with the threat of its mother returning
to reclaim her child, to alleviate any greater stress than necessary on the adopters, the new Adoption of Children Act would
introduce into legislation a clause to reduce the mothers revocation period to a maximum thirty days. But again many mothers
were never informed of the newly introduced revocation period.
The Adoption of Children Act 1965, proclaimed on 7th February 1967
Because of the permanent nature of adoption, the revocation period was essentially meant to be a cooling off period. Its
intention was meant to ensure that the mother was fully aware of her actions, and if she decided life would be too unbearable
without her child she then had time to revoke her consent. It was also meant to give her time to recover from the birth and
get her life in order before she made such a life altering decision as surrendering her child.
Still in a state of unspeakable trauma in having been forbidden to see her child or at best offered a glimpse, and having
been counselled into believing her child did not belong to her, thirty days was hardly enough time to recover from the birth
let alone find employment, accommodation and childcare while still attempting to recover from her experience. Although unbeknown
to her, these facilities had been readily available and she was supposed to be made aware of such help as part of her so-called
Although a mother was meant to be able to reclaim her child within the 30 day revocation period, few ever managed to access
that legal right unless their parents were willing to support them, even if the mother was already an adult and in her twenties.
Too late most realised that the thirty day revocation period was being used simply as a trap to ensnare those who tried
resist into signing a consent, believing she had time to get help and her life in order and come back for the child. But with
the baby being already allotted, by the time she returned, they had no intention of giving her child back.
Additionally, because mothers were not being made aware of how to go about revoking her consent to reclaim their babies
within the legally permitted time, she had to re-contact the staff of adoption agency or hospital who had taken her consent,
and in doing so would be routinely obstructed from revoking, being met with resistance, and hindered from carrying out her
original intention by being told it was all too late and too bad.
Dedicated to my son, David
Born: 3rd October 1968
29 years ago, you were taken for adoption,
It wasn't my choice, I was given no option.
Even though they tore us apart
can never separate you from my heart.
I hope that your parents are loving and kind,
If only I knew, it would sure ease
As I said to the woman who insisted I sign,
"Give him to strangers, are you out of your mind!"
"To a Doctor or Lawyer",
she said you would go,
That was a lie, as I now well know.
30 days she gave me to get you back,
If I could prove
to the department, that I didn't lack.
So home I did go and got a good job,
On a property away from the narrow minded mob.
The people were lovely, they
said "you could stay",
With their young children, you would be able to play.
You had your own nursery, and money to
Now all was set, for our lives now to share.
As I rang the hospital on that particular day,
I wasn't prepared for the words they would say.
"Give you your baby?, I would if I could.
But I'm sorry my dear, you have misunderstood.
30 days, or new parents
- and you are too late,
I guess you will just have to live with your fate".
29 years of your life I have been unable to share,
But I love you as much as the day I was there!
With my love
your mother - Jeanette