Our concern is predominantly with the proposed introduction of lifetime vetoes against birthmothers
- an outrageous discriminatory proposition in protection of other parties to the adoption process.
One would assume in this enlightened decade that birthmothers had suffered enough at the hands of this draconian, unnatural
and inhumane process of separating a mother permanantly from her own child at birth because she had the misfortune of falling
pregnant in a country such as Australia when she was young, victimised, unsupported and essentially helpless.
How this type of discrimination can be allowed to continue in 1995 in light of the well acknowledged awareness of past
practices is astounding. Only the naive and uninformed are not yet aware of the criminality and illegality which permeated
the entire adoption process Australia wide over the last 50 years, and specifically over the period since the introduction
of the 1965 Adoption of Children Act where laws were passed which were meant to protect the unwed mother and her child from
separation through coercion and undue influence and which failed to do so.
What we are dealing with in 1995 are women who are no longer those teenage unwed mothers who lost their babies to scandalous
adoption practices after having been placed into the care of government employed and licenced adoption workers but who are
now adult women seeking advice from legal professionals who, until recently, have had little or no involvement in adoption
law, and are beginning to recognise that the Adoption Act has been almost entirely contravened through the system's practices
and blatant misrepresentation of adoption law and policy guidelines.
In light of the readily available research which declares that:
" birthmothers suffer chronic and irresolvable grief which only intensifies with time", (ref.J. Condon, Winkler VanKeppell,
Allowing the introduction of lifetime vetoes against the birthmother as a dictum of law, could very well be seen as breaching
a professional duty of care (where no-one is legally entitled to knowingly do harm to others - a principal of civil law for
approximately 100 years).
As lawyers we assume you would be aware of Australia's history of scandalous adoption practices (not practiced in other
nations) and would therefore assume that, in law, your committee would be seeking ways of making restitution by at least looking
after the emotional needs of birthmothers which has until now been grossly and negligently ignored, even though research and
their own manuals of adoption practice indicate that adoption professionals have been aware of the long term consequences
to the birthmother and were meant to, as part of their duty of care, warn the mother of the emotional consequences of separating
from her child ie that she may "suffer greivous future regret" rather than encouraging the surrender of her child to adoption.
(a guideline which has always been and continues to be ignored by adoption workers).
Shamefully, what has evolved as a result of the "lack of accountability" of adoption workers could very well be construed
as mass kidnap of thousands of newborn babies by Government bodies - if contested in a court of law. (see enclosed video and
audio tape - reaction of Justice Richard Chisholm - previous head of NSW Law Reform Commission Adoption Review Board).
As Adoption Reviews Australia wide seem to be concentrating on the superficialities of adoption reform rather than the
legalities I have included extracts from a paper presented at the Australian National Adoption Conference held in Sydney on
August 29-31 1994.
Although specifically aimed at NSW, this information may well pertain to all Australian states and was chaired by the NSW
Law Reform Commissions now president, Mr Hennessy.
"A seminar held in February 1967, to implement the Adoption of Children Act 1965, bringing together 314 representatives
of every hospital, maternity home and family agency from around the State of N.S.W. outlining the procedures of the new Adoption
Act has been the source of much of my information. (The Act, refers to the Adoption of Children Act 1965).
This new Act was primarily implemented to wipe out technical differences between the rights of adopted children between
different States, and, with the prohibition of independent adoptions, other than private family arrangements, safeguards were
implemented which would protect the unwed mother and her child from duress and undue influence by what was then known as black
market agents profiteering in unscrupulous baby trading practices.
Except in cases of abandonment or neglect, nowhere in the Adoption Act dictates that the interests of the child are best
served by being removed from it's natural mother at birth.
The responsibility of adoption workers was the placement and care of a child deprived of his natural family. It is not,
and never has been the responsibility of the adoption worker to actually deprive the child of his family. And yet, adoption
practices were implemented to do just that.
What the law indicates is that only after a mother has surrendered her child for adoption by having signed a consent to
adoption form, then and ONLY then, does the State take over the responsibility of looking after the childs best interests.
Needless to say, Adoption Workers misinterpreted their understanding of the law and somehow decided it was their duty to
speak on behalf of the child (specifically the infant) inferring it was their responsibility to decide on the babies future.
(Vol 20 Aust Journal of Social Work Feb 67 The Child).
Their own words demonstrate that adoption workers merely used the child as a tool for adoptions true purpose, unexposed
as it was. To quote Mary McLelland, spokeswoman for the Australian Association of Social Workers 1967; . . . ."The Social
workers concern is with childlessness or infertility, but the particular area of competence is, not in it's treatment, but
in assessment or resolution of the effects on the marital relationship of the couple". . . . She goes on further to say; "The
ultimate objective of Adoption is such a planned change, through helping to make a family where before one did not exist".
. . . . "But before the placement can be made there are other minor or contributory changes in the social functioning of various
individuals where the social workers part is well defined". . . . and that is. . . "The natural parents must resolve, if possible,
conflicts about the surrender of the child".
Quite clearly, the success of securing marital harmony and healthy social functioning of white married society, was
dependent on ensuring the availability of a continous crop of desirable babies. Their destiny sealed, earmarked to fulfilling
the needs of strangers, our babies were merely used as a means of providing a cure for the marital problems of the infertile.
Social Workers were delighted that the prohibition of independent adoptions would mean a greater number of unwed mothers
being channelled into the waiting claws of the new system via, by now, well rehearsed and poorly trained adoption case workers,
planted effectively within hospitals, maternity homes and family agencies. These new arrangements would mean that practices
would be implemented, which could reap a crop large enough to satisfy the frenzied demand for babies. The following 6 years
(1967-73) would be known in social work circles as the bumper adoption era.
The skyrocketing statistics of this period was no coincidence, but a direct result of the adoption industry systematically
denying the unwed mother all options and alternatives available to her by law, and using methods of such inhumane, emotional
violence, and physical abuse in the labour ward - all designed to remove the mothers sense of entitlement to her own child,
and, being so outside the legal interpretation of the law as to bring into question the validity of thousands of adoption
consents as a consequence.
Procedures in place negating the need for any legal representation of the unwed mother allowed a breeding ground for such
abuses of the Act.
It was a time of severe negligence and blatant disregard of the Adoption Act on the part of the entire Social Welfare system
in collusion with the Medical Profession. That any Social Worker actually bothered to read the Adoption Act and its offences,
or for that matter, their very own journals and Manuals of Adoption Practices is severely questionable. (ref. Vol 20 A.J.
of S.W + Man of Adop Pracs 1971).
It wasn't until 1976 that the Health Dept of N.S.W. smelled a rat, but it took another 6 years to distribute a warning
to every hospital within the state that they were contravening the Adoption Act on either mental health or legal grounds.
It was also the first time anyone had bothered to question why almost all adoption consents in N.S.W. were being taken
whilst the mother lay bleeding and sedated in her hospital bed, when by law she could have taken the baby home and given herself
time to make alternative arrangements. This was but one option systematically denied the unwed mother.
Most significantly, Section 31b of the Adoption Act states; An adoption consent may prove invalid under the terms of the
Adoption of Children act 1965 if the mother has been subject to duress or undue influence. Refusing the mother permission
to see or handle her child prior to signing the consent, or putting obstacles in her way of asserting this right, may readily
be interpreted as duress if the validity of a consent is being contested. . . 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.
The law also states that a mother is the sole legal guardian of her baby and remains so until a consent to adoption is
signed. She therefore has the rights of access to her child as any new mother would and cannot legally be denied this.
How did this law protect the unwed mother when most had pillows or sheets To discover the massive case work studies on
the effects of adoption on the child - available since 1943 and referenced in university social work literature is reprehensible
and certainly smacks of negligence toward the emotional health of the child if not child abuse.
Perhaps the most telling of all comments for the unwed mother was by the well known Leontine Young, whose unresearched
theories about unwed mothers bought about the cruel and barbarous "Clean Break Theory" in adoption practice as we know it
today, In her paper "Is Money our Trouble", Young stated her concerns in 1953 about:
"The tendency growing out of the demand for babies to regard unwed mothers as breeding machines....by people intent
upon securing babies for quick adoption".
The sacred cow that adoption became, began at a time whereby the collective social conscience, in an effort to alleviate
any guilt about sanctioning the permanent removal of a child from it's natural mother, colluded with the help of well designed
social propaganda to believe that adoption was in the childs best interest as the mother, they deemed, did not want her child.
The unwanted child theory was then introduced to help adoptive parents feel comfortable in taking another womans baby,
as the belief was that the adoptive mother could not effectively parent the child without a sense of entitlement.
Once the baby had disappeared forever, the concept of relinquishment was so at odds with Mother Nature herself, that society
had to condemn the de-babied mother as being less than human for doing what was socially expected of her, and so, in order
to protect their collective guilt the mother was condemned into eternal silence.
The collective amnesia of the unwed mother seemed to indicate that all was well with adoption and she had indeed forgotten
what had been done to her. The truth in fact being that, she had not been silenced by stigma and guilt as was socially required
of her, but rather, it is now being acknowledged in psychiatric circles that her silence has been the direct result of an
attempted adaptation to an unbearable loss, being so outside the realms of normal human endurance, as to have caused her to
suffer severe mental health disorders such as psychic splitting, much the same way as the mind of the child incest abuse victim
splits off from reality in order to survive her trauma, incorporating post traumatic stress disorder, psychogenic amnesia,
multiple personality disorder, severe dissociative disorders, long term pathogenic grief, learned helplessness disfunction
and major depression, all this as a direct result of such severe trauma associated with such a violent act.
Many mothers have stated how:
" Argentina's political adoption process of putting a bullet through her head once the baby had been born, might
have been kinder, instead of being condemned to the eternal hell in never knowing where her baby is".
I question how any civilised Government could legally be allowed to sanction, promote and continue to implement such an
inhumane policy as that of closed adoption, without having been legally obliged as part of their duty of care, to take into
consideration the vast amounts of professional case work studies so readily available, which indicate that adoption causes
severe mental health disorders in women who relinquish a child, and major psychological disturbances in many adopted children.
I also question why adoption workers have not, and are still not, as part of their duty of care, being made to acknowledge
their professional responsibility in informing the mother of the possible risk of grievous harm to both her own and her childs
mental health, if adoption is being considered".
I refer to clause regarding vetoes.
The commissions proposal to recommend both information and contact vetoes against birth mothers further perpetuates the
bias and fear held toward mothers who were on the whole, little more than children at the time of relinquishment and who are
still being held responsible and punished for societal and familial decisions made on their behalf by adults who are still
unable to be honest about facing up to their involvement in this mass exploitation of young mothers' fertility.
Perhaps a little humanity needs to seep into the adoption concept. What could be more natural and healing for a mother
than to finally see her firstborn child and know that he/she is alive and well and to be able to finally be able to heal her
childs pain and anger by being able to let him know that she did love him, thus helping to alleviate the child's sense of
abandonment and loss.
And what could be more natural than wanting to know the woman who gave birth to you?
And how tragic and unnatural that the myths, lies and fears which are the foundation stones of the closed adoption system
are still being perpetuated in the guise of lifetime vetoes as protection to people so emotionally damaged by a closed adoption
system that knowledge of their very existance fill them with such fear. Clearly, the emotional cost demanded by closed adoption
is too high.
But perhaps we are too ideal to have anticipated any level of equality in adoption reform when nothing has ever been equal
in the adoption equation. What we must remember, and what seems conveniently forgotten, is that the natural mother was often
little more than a child herself at the time of surrender where adoptive parents were secure, mature adults who placed their
orders for another womans child, complained when they had to wait too long to get their needs met, and were willing to benefit
from a young mothers tragic situation at a time when she was caste out, deserted by both her family and the childs father,
coerced and bullied into believing it was in her babies best interest to be given to strangers she wasn't allowed to meet
(do you know of any mother who would 'willingly' give her baby to a stranger for even an hour? ) and yet, because of her situation
she had no choice but to accept such an inhumane arrangement which defies and contravenes the very fabric of motherhood and
mother nature - which is revered in every other living species on earth.
It is little wonder that many birth mothers have suicided or are dying from illnesses caused as a result of irresolvable
despair at an early age.
How regretful it is that social workers made naive young mothers believe that infertile couples would be ever so grateful
to finally receive a much desired child and it would be selfish to deprive such wonderful people of such happiness.
Where is that gratitude now? Tragically, it is nowhere to be found. Their gratitude is directed only toward the social
workers who found a child for them, and to whom they again turn for protection against the mother through the insistance of
the introduction of a dreadful veto system.
It must be blatantly clear that if a child had been raised with love and with a loving perception of his/her birthmother
their bond would be so great, no-one, not even the birthmother could threaten their family unit and there would be no need
for the placing of a veto. This in turn would help the birth mother find some peace and perhaps finally come to terms with
her loss, in knowing that her child had been happy and had not suffered.
Logic would tell us that if the birthmother meant nothing to the child, meeting her would mean no more and be no frightening
than being introduced to a stranger in the street.
What the placement of a veto indicates is that the child has been raised in a less than ideal manner which has instilled
fear, anger and hatred into the child (such negative emotions could not possibly be seen as having been in any childs best
interest) and certainly indicates a family dynamic which should be viewed with suspicion.
It is little wonder that society is now bearing witness to the catastrophic suffering left in the wake of the closed adoption
era. It's what happens when mankind interferes with Mother Nature - Gods Master Plan.
As the closed adoption system has drawn to a close through the knowledge that it has caused such unnecessary suffering
to those locked into its claws, Who is now responsible for those children under 18 year of age who are still in the system
and is the government who controls these policies prepared to take responsibility for their emotional health in light of the
knowledge it now possesses and will those same children be given retrospective access to knowledge and contact with their
natural families prior to turning 18. In other words will your government be making legislation on open adoption retrospective?
Submitted on behalf of:
ORIGINS inc. Aust.