Future Considerations for Adoption
Legislation and Policies

 

Stated in Blackwell's Companion to Social Work, edited by Martin Davies, 1997, is the following:

"From about the early 1950s to the early 1970s a dramatic change took place in the practice of adoption... It came to be seen as largely providing a child to childless couples…Adoption... was justly described as practiced largely in the interests of adopters, that is a child for a home." (1997, p. 334)

Canadian Council of Natural Mothers

Adoption is supposed to be about finding families for children who have lost their families, not about finding children and separating them from their families to create adoptive families.

Although there are mothers who believe they made a choice, and those that wish anonymity, many mothers were unsupported and caught in, and victimized by, past adoption practices that negated their value in the lives of their newbornsand babies. Those practices promoted the interests of prospective adoptive parents as being 'in the best interests of their baby'. Some of the phrases and language used in separation are still used in adoption practices today: "in the best interests of the baby", the "unselfish sacrifice", the "gift of love" and more recently "the ultimate gift for a childless couple."

These phrases demote the mother to the lesser and invisible status of not being 'in the best interests of her baby', for being selfish for having the natural need and desire to love and raise her baby. The use of these phrases can be oppressive and coercive when the mother is in a vulnerable and/or powerless position and does not have the life experience, knowledge or information to comprehend the ramifications and consequences of separation for herself and her child.

Australia is at the forefront of legislation and policies that protect, promote and value the importance of keeping a mother and her child together. New South Wales, Australia's Adoption Act 2000 is legislation designed to protect the best interests of mother and child.

Examples of support for mothers to keep and raise their own children are the following:

  • The mother will not be permitted to sign a consent until 30 days after the birth of her child and she has a further 30 days to revoke that consent.
  • The mother must be given mandatory written information outlining all services and alternatives to adoption as ways of keeping her child over choosing adoption.
  • The mother must be given mandatory written information about the short and long term emotional consequences of an adoption decision. This includes the potential for traumatic psychological implications for both herself and her child if she should proceed with the
    adoption.

Evelyn Robinson has given an excellent description of the policies for the protection of mother and child in South Australia, which has about two million people:

"…the recognition of the impact of past adoptions has resulted in changes to current adoption policy, which mean that there are no longer any adoptions of older children, no adoptions by family members (including step-parent adoptions) and no adoptions without consent. In fact, there are very few adoptions at all in South Australia at the present time. There are also no orphanages and no abandoned babies. Over the last thirty years, numbers of adoptions have dropped dramatically and in the last few years there have been only three or four Australian born children adopted per year in South Australia." (2001, p.x)

This paper can be accessed here.

Trends today around the world and in our own country are for open access to adoption records for natural families and persons adopted.

Legal & Ethical Protection

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We trust that with the knowledge we now have of the negative impact of closed adoption records on many mothers, persons adopted and natural families, we can move forward to put in place adoption legislation that respects the dignity and humanity of people separated by adoption. And, move forward to create policies and practices that are focused on keeping families, mothers and their babies, together.

© The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers