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 Origins Inc.   

Adoption Queensland Style


The Sinister Side Of The Sunshine State.
Where It All Began

The Infant Life Protection Act 1905 to 1935. Part IV 17. (1) States that the occupier of any house or place where an illegitimate child was born should report the birth of such child in writing to the district register or assistant district registrar within three days of the birth.

The Infant Life Protection Act Part IV 17. (4) states if the occupier is the mother of the new born infant, such notice may be given at any time within three weeks after the birth.

The principles of The Infant Life Protection Act were later incorporated into the 1965 Children's Services Act which also required the reporting of the births or deaths of illegitimate children.

See Forms on Forms page   

Notification of an illegitimate birth.

These notifications were used to ensure that no illegitimate birth or death went unnoticed by the Registrar General and the Department of Children's Services.

The compulsory Reports of Investigation provided by the hospitals to the department were also used to provide a description of the mother and father to match the characteristics of the prospective adopters.

These reports were made out by the hospital staff and sent to the department even before any consent was taken from the mother. Although the name of the father was on the report it was not placed on the original birth certificate.

The Reports of Investigation were utilised to report all illegitimate births and deaths to The Department of Children's Services up until the 1980s. According to Mr Nick Prins of the Department of Families, although the legislation requiring the reports is still in place it is not functioning.

These reports of investigation were later used in the peak adoption years as a means of keeping tabs on illegitimate births. They were also used to instigate the removal of newborns from their mothers under under the Infant Life Protection Act through the guise of protecting the child. This act was later incorporated into the Children's Services Act.

 A typical report of investigation.

The intention of the Infant Life Protection Act was to ensure that children were not in danger or mistreated. It was not intended to serve as a weapon against mothers to remove their children in more enlightened times. Nowhere in the act does it stipulate that children were to be taken from their mothers and adopted.

In the peak years of adoption, mothers of these children were hunted down and treated as criminals to the extent that police were obliged to search any house or premises at any hour of the day to ascertain whether their had been an infringement of the act.

Adoptions in Qld fluctuated to high levels during the period following World War One, slowing down at the onset of World War Two and then into the peak adoption years of the years of the 1950's through to the 1970's.

The demand for adoption of newborns was a viable option for the Department which could not or would not recover maintenance from the fathers of illegitimate children.

It also saw adoption as a means to rid itself of it's financial obligations to pay state aid to unsupported mothers and quell the demands for a child by infertile married couples.

Fathers Responsibilities

The Infant Life Protection Act. Part IV 16 (1) called for all remedies against the fathers of an illegitimate child leading to the recovery of:

(a) Any sum not exceeding the sum of twenty pounds for confinement expenses whether the child was born alive or dead, reasonable medical and nursing expenses attendant on confinement of the mother and the cost of the mothers board and lodging also the clothing necessary for the child for two months after it's birth.

16 (3) States: Proceedings may be taken against the father of an illegitimate child for the maintenance or for confinement expenses either before or after the birth of a child.

16 (6) All complaints under part of this act may be made by or on behalf of the mother or child, or by the Director or whom he may appoint for that purpose or by any person appointed under the regulations

Under the 1965 Children's Services Act the fathers were still required to pay maintenance for their child.

The Director of Children's Service Reports to Parliament.

The following extracts from the Directors reports to the Qld Parliament gives an insight into adoption practices from 1960-1973. It can be safe to say that these extracts give an overall view of the departments attitude to adoption over the peak adoption years from the 50s to the 70s.

1960 Directors Report to Parliament states that the Department of Children's Services was confronted by instances of anxious people who felt that their applications to adopt should be satisfied immediately when they made up their minds to adopt a child.

The report goes on to state that, "It has always been the aim of the Department to assist all applicants. Most infants adopted were newly born babies and the department makes every endeavour to match a baby with the adoptive parents in terms of colouring, features and degrees of intelligence."

The report also goes on to say that once the adoption order is issued the department does not take up any follow-up action.

The report also goes on to thank the medical and legal professions in assisting in the smooth running of this section of our activities.

1961 Directors Report to Parliament refers to the heavy demand for children for adoption so much so that the average waiting period for a female is three years and two years for a male. The department also encourages the adoptive parents to apply for another infant immediately on the receipt of the first child, thus ensuring the getting of another child after the usual waiting period.

1962 Directors report to Parliament states as with the previous year that the demand to adopt children continues up to the standard of previous years. It also notes that the department has a liaison with various hospitals particularly the Women's and the Mater Mother's Hospital for testing the children to ensure their fitness for adoption

1963 Directors Report to Parliament, also states the demand for children to adopt has not diminished. The report also states that it has liaisons with the Women and the Mater Mothers Hospitals.

1964 Directors Report to Parliament, notes the discussion with other states for uniform adoption legislation since 1961. Agreement had also been obtained on principles to control adoption of children so that financial trading in babies would not develop in Australia as in the case of overseas adoptions and the adoptive parents and the child would be protected.

The report also goes on to state that the Child Welfare Officers of the department regularly visit the Maternity Hospitals in the Metropolitan and country centres. The report also goes on to express that although there were more babies for adoption the waiting list still exists.

The Infant Life Protection section 1964 report also states that prospective adoptive parents expressed wishes to take a child for a trial period. The department obliged them by registering their home as a nursing home to permit them to do so.

1965 Report to Parliament refers to the uniform adoption legislation agreed upon by the States and Territories. It also refers to a serious loophole for unsatisfactory adoptions procedures which will disappear.

It said waiting time for a new-born had been considerably reduced and the age of prospective adoptive parents had been reduced from 25 to 21 years of age, and in view of the increased number of children for adoption a placement of a third child of the male sex was possible.

1966 Directors Report to Parliament noted that the greatest number of adoptions occurred that year and the department was in need of adoptive parents. The increased numbers of new-borns considerably deplete the waiting time for approved applicants and in some categories of children a placement was made in a matter of days.

The report goes on to say that the number of persons is not keeping pace with the children for placement, and it was difficult to stimulate applications because of the "deep human considerations". But persons wishing to adopt can be assured that their application would be considered sympathetically and as quickly as possible.

Under the Infant Life Protection section the report mentions that a good number of illegitimate children would be born into de-facto relationships. In addition to the problems of adoption, this higher instance also increased the number of cases where help is sought from the department, should the mother decide to keep her child.

1969 Directors Report to Parliament notes an increase in the amount of family assistance payable to a parent who is not in receipt of a Commonwealth Social Service benefit to make such an amount consistent with the increase granted at that time by the Commonwealth to a class "A" widows pension. This increase applied from 13th October 1968.

1970 Directors report to Parliament notes the greatest number of adoption orders issued in any one year, it also goes on to state that the waiting period in different categories has tended to increase dependent on the availability of children.

The department also recognises the trauma of adoption on overseas children.

A survey into deferred adoptions was carried out by the Department of Social Medicine Qld. The main conclusion was that there were approximately 14% of adoptions that year deferred, the reasons given were physical, mental disability and racial backgrounds.

1971 Directors report to Parliament, comments on the large number of adoptions, this being the greatest number in any one year. Waiting times fluctuated during the year. It states that the majority of babies being adopted were to unmarried mothers.

1972 Directors Report to Parliament notes an increase in adoptions, so far the greatest number in any one year, the majority of babies being born to unwed mothers. The Department also recognises the trauma and disruption of adoption on overseas children.

1973 Directors Report to Parliament notes the diminishing number of children for adoption as in the latter part of the year there had been a gradual build up of approved applicants. It also notes that the reason for the diminishing numbers of infants was due to mothers exercising their rights to keep their babies. It goes on to say that the Department is most careful in dealing with this aspect as the decision rests entirely with the mother.

There was also a survey conducted by two medical students into deferred adoptions to determine the reasons for the deferments, the main reasons being congenital abnormalities, racial origins, physical abnormalities, medical and psychiatric history of parents, social reasons, etc.

Adoption Statistics 1960 to 1973

The following statistics were obtained from the Directors Reports to Parliament and does not give a true representation of actual adoption figures. It was well known to the Department that there were unofficial "illegal" adoptions going on in various institutions. It is interesting to note that the number of refused applications rose when the demand for newborns increased. The department could afford to be fussy regarding their requirements of successful applicants.

The difference in the numbers of illegitimate children adopted and adoption orders issued, were filled by spouse adoptions and adoption of children by relatives.

It is apparent by the following example that the department was doing nothing more than filling adoptive parents applications for children. A clear case of demand and then supply.

  Year       Applications    Adoption orders  Applications
                                    received         issued           refused      children
                                    1960            965             865              9             710
                                    1961            831             814             16             692
                                    1962            966             872              6             754
                                    1963          1,040             927             10             812
                                    1964          1,194           1,084              8             952
                                    1965          1,295           1,266             12           1,084
                                    1966          1,401           1,398              3           1,233
                                    1967          1,646           1,386              3           1,231
                                    1969          1,687           1,448              2           1,283
                                    1970          1,992           1,500             66           1,370
                                    1971          1,938           1,562             57           1,418
                                    1972          2,294           1,774             35           1,359
                                    1973          2,068           1,678             48           1,128
Grading of Children into Categories

The Department in their quest to engineer families resorted to grading and categorising our children on the basis of our family background and educational attainment (see example of categories). These categories were based on the presumption that we had reached the pinnacle of our life's achievements. On reunion with our children many mothers were shocked to learn that their children were adopted out to persons who were poorly educated, disabled, and not as financially secure as we were lead to believe,

The tales the department worker told that the babies would go to doctors, teachers and lawyers were a ploy to portray to the mother that social and financial status were more important to the child than it's own blood family. Many mothers on reunion found that a large number of these so called stable families did in fact disintegrate and that the child was eventually brought up in a single parent home.

The department failed to follow up on the success of the placement after the adoption order was approved leaving unprotected babies at the mercy of many inappropriate and very disturbed adoptive parents. It was not unusual for adopters to return the child to the department because it failed to meet their expectations by way of physical and mental similarities.

Occupations of Adopters

  Year   Professional
                                     Skilled   Unskilled   Pensioners  Farmers/Graziers
                                      1960        230        348        164         23            100
                                      1961        262        312        127         12            101
                                      1962        234        323        220         13             82
                                      1963        251        307        228         18            123
                                      1964        308        348        292         21            115
                                      1965        405        394        311         34            122
                                      1966        440        450        341         18            149
                                      1967        301        503        418         16            148
                                      1969        260        520        499         22            147
                                      1970        351        567        429         17            136
                                      1971        603        468        344         12            135
                                      1972        815        465        349         15            130

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