The Promised Life
While the baby's mother was being promised the perfect life with perfect parents, an idealized family structure
she could not hope to compete with, and being made to believe she would be a selfish mother to deny her child a life far superior
to anything she could provide, the reality was that no-one knew if the placement of her child would even be successful let
alone superior. Traditional adoptions were simply a long term experiment with the lives of our children. An experiment which
according to many outcomes - and the cost in human terms - has failed dreadfully.
Some Aspects Of Research In The Field Of Adoption
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 USA 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
That timing coincided nicely with legislative changes in Victoria by 1985. The experiment on our children had obviously
Recruiting Potential Adopters
Just as Vincent had forecast some years earlier, the recruitment of more prospective adoptive parents had begun
in 1967 by the use of media articles, ministers of church congregations calling on their parishioners to do their Christian
duty, even if they already had families of their own, began to draw huge levels of applicants.
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".
A thought for the unmarried father.
Sunday Tele 5/2/67 Miss Mary McLelland.
"There are three people involved in adoption, " she said, "the child, the natural parent who must surrender him, and the
adoptive parent. "
Miss McLelland said another current change in the adoptive practice was that the supply of children was falling in relation
to the supply of adoptive parents. This was even more unfortunate as not all adoptive parents were suitable. . . . A further
modern day role of the social worker was to recruit adoptive parents by stimulating interest among suitable people.
Dissenters of Adoption
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.