Media Releases

No “Happy Mother’s Day” for mothers whose children have been removed.
Adoption is not an answer to disadvantage.

Mothers have a right not to be separated from their babies, say women who have suffered as a consequence of past government adoption policy. This follows recent indications by government that permanent adoptions may play a greater role in the future handling of care and protection cases, including in relation to indigenous children. The Federal Parliament is currently conducting an inquiry investigating local adoption as a viable option for children currently in out-of-home care.

“A policy favouring a return to adoption does not take account of the critical bond between a mother and child and the lifelong trauma inflicted by permanent removal,” says Darelle Duncan, of Origins Australia Inc.– the Forced Adoption Support and Advocacy Network.

“The devastating impact of forced adoptions on both mothers and children has been extensively documented. How many apologies does it take for the government to recognise that removing children for adoption is not an appropriate response to disadvantage?”

Under the United Nation’s Convention for the Rights of the Child, children have a right to be known and cared for by their parents as far as possible and a right not to be separated from them against their will. According to Catherine Lynch of Australian Adoption Rights Action Group: “Too often children are removed from poor and disadvantaged mothers in circumstances where they could actually be given assistance to retain care of their child.”

Lynch also notes: “Children are also entitled under the Convention to have their identity preserved and falsified birth certificates infringe this right. Where necessary, a guardianship arrangement is preferable to permanent adoption.”

Until the introduction of a reasonable Supporting Mother’s Benefit by the Whitlam government in 1973, it was common for the babies of unwed mothers to be routinely removed from delivery tables against the wishes of the mother and placed with total strangers. Since then, the number of babies available for adoption in Australia has dropped dramatically so that many people look to adopt instead from impoverished women overseas.

Darelle Duncan observes: “It is wrong to ignore the intense psychological and emotional bond that arises from childbearing. An investigation on how to support mothers and their children is needed rather than repeating the crimes of the past. Women should never be forcibly separated from their babies due to poverty or disadvantage.”

Media Contact: Anna Kerr M: 0402 467 476 E: anna@feministlegal.org

Feminist Legal Clinic Incorporated is a new community legal service that works to advance the human rights of women and girls.

Released Monday 7 May 2018

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