Crimes Act 1900 No. 40 NEW SOUTH WALES
Whosoever lead takes or entices away or detains a person with intent to hold him for ransom or for any other advantage to any person shall be liable to penal servitude for twenty years or, if it is proved to the satisfaction of the judge that the person so led taken enticed away or detained was thereafter liberated without having sustained any substantial injury, to penal servitude for fourteen years.
This section does not apply to any person who shall, in good faith, have claimed a right to the possession of a person so led taken or enticed away or detained
s91 Taking a child with intent to steal etc.
Whosoever by force or fraud leads or takes away, entices away, or detains, any child under the age of twelve years, with intent to deprive any person having the lawful charge of such a child of the possession of such child, or with the intent to steal any article upon or about the person of such child, to whomsoever such article may belong, or
receives or harbours any such child, knowing such child to have been so led, taken, enticed away or detained
shall be liable to penal servitude for ten years.
Provided that this section shall not extend to any person who shall in good faith, have claimed a right to the possession of such child
s38 Using chloroform etc. to commit an offence
Whosoever unlawfully applies or administers to, or causes, to be taken by, or attempts to apply or administer to, or cause to be taken by, any per, any chloroform laudanum or other stupefying or overpowering drug or thing with intent in any such case to enable himself, or another person, to commit, or with intent to assist another person in committing an indictable offence, shall be liable to penal servitude for 25 years.
s61 Common assault prosecuted by indictment
Whosoever assaults any person, although not occasioning actual bodily harm, shall be liable to imprisonment for two years.
s249B Corrupt commissions or rewards
(1) If any agent corruptly receives or solicits s (or corruptly aggress to receive or solicits) from another person for the agent or for anyone else any benefit:
(a) as an inducement or reward for or otherwise on account of:
(i) doing or not doing something, or having done or not having done something or
(ii) showing or not showing, or having shown or not having shown, favour or disfavour to any person,
in relation to the affairs or business of the agent’s principal: or
(b) the receipt of any expectation of which would in any way tend to influence the agent to show or not to show favour or disfavour to any person in relation to the affairs or business of the agent’s principal;.
the agent is liable to imprisonment for 7 years
(2) If any person corruptly gives or offers to give to any agent, or to any other person with the consent or at the request of any agent, any benefit:
(a) as an inducement or reward for or otherwise on account of the agent’s:
(i) doing or not doing something, or having done or not having done
(ii) showing or not showing, or having shown or not having shown, favour or
disfavour to any person,
in relation to the affair so business of the agent’s principal: or
(b) the receipt of any expectation of which would in any way tend to influence the agent to show, or not to show, favour or disfavour to any person in relation to the affairs or business of the agent’s principal
the first mentioned person is liable to imprisonment for 7 years
(3) For the purposes of subsection (1), where a benefit is received or solicited by anyone with the consent or at the request of an agent, the agent shall be deemed to have received or solicited the benefit.
249C Misleading documents or statement used or made by agents
(1) Any agent who uses, or gives to the agent’ principal, a document which contains anything that is false or misleading in any material respect, with intent to defraud the agent’s principal, is liable to imprisonment for 7 years
(2) Any agent who makes a statement to the agent’s principal which is false or misleading in any material respect, with intent to defraud the principal, is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.
249F Aiding, abetting etc.
(1) A person who aids, abets, counsels, procurers, solicits or incites the commission of an offence under this Part is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.
(2) A person who, in New South Wales, aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission an offence in any place outside New South Wales, being an offence punishable under the provisions of a law in force in that place which corresponds to a provision of the Part is guilty of an offence is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.
249J Custom not a defense
In any proceedings for an offence under this Part (4) is not a defence that the receiving soliciting, giving or offering of any benefit is customary in any trade, business, profession or calling.
It is my intention to argue that all of the crimes mentioned above been committed in the baby trading that has gone on in New South Wales under the guise of Adoption for the past fifty years.
Those that are accused are those who instead of acting in the best interests of mother and child acted as procurers of children with the intent to defraud the mother and kidnap the child.
So obsequious was the abuse that many working in the adoption industry became desensitised to the tragic mental and emotional damage they were inflicting on the mother and child a code of practices evolved which blatantly abused the human rights of the mother and child and committed the criminal act of Kidnap
A lawyer working at the Law Reform Commission admitted that the reason these abuses have gone on for so long and no one had been made accountable was because the practices were never challenged. It is now time that justice is done and the barbaric practices of the past are challenged and exposed.
As a society we have become desensitised to the emotional devastation of the removalist practices of the past. As a society we need to challenge the ideology that a child’s problem is solved by removing it from the deviant mother. Deviant being defined by those in more powerful socioeconomic positions. Deviant in this culture, in this century has been defined if the mother is aboriginal, migrant, poor, unmarried or her husband has left.
Dr. John Bowlby in the 1950’s wrote about the anxiety trauma that a child experiences in being separated from its mother. Florence Clothier in the 1940s wrote about the deep wound caused to a child to be separated from its mother. Yet those in the adoption industry distorted these obvious observations to suit the model they were inclined to follow. Instead of supporting mother and child to stay together as was enshrined in natural and civil law they used such theories to justify the insane removal of a new born from its mother and placing it with married strangers saying it was ‘in the best interests of the child’ to be placed with the alien mother at the earliest possible moment.
The points I use to argue my case are as follows:-
(1) The main criteria for a couple wishing to adopt was that they be infertile. Some agencies even requiring medical proof of the condition. This being the case it is obvious that providing children for the infertile was a service for them otherwise the criteria for adoption would have been GOOD PARENTING SKILLS.
(2) The literature written by individuals working in the adoption industry showed a strong bias towards the infertile couple and even stronger bias against supporting a mother to keep her child.
ATTACHEMNT 1 - Copy of the Seminar Document.
(3) The Proceedings of a Seminar held in 1967 just prior to the implementation of the 1965 Adoption of Children Act indicate all the professional bodies in attendance, - the Minister of Welfare, Doctors, Psychiatrists, Nurses, Social Workers Representatives of the Unmarried Mothers’ Hostels - of colluding with the intent of obtaining as many children as possible to satisfy the demands being placed on them by infertile couples to be provided with children.
· Mr. A. D. Bridges, the Honourable Minister for Welfare who opened the Seminar states unambiguously - “The arranging of an adoption in a way that protects the interests of the child...... demands a large measure of effective teamwork between several professions, these are of the law, medicine, social work and frequently the church. Accordingly the Government decided, and in this decision received the support of all parties in Parliament, to allow adoptions to be arranged only by formally constituted organisations that did have access to the desired range of skill, knowledge and facilities. ......... I am very happy that the Council of Social Service of New South Wales which has within its membership most voluntary welfare organisations in the State and the Australian Medical Association, whose members are very closely involved in all adoption work, should agree to sponsor this Seminar jointly with me.
ATTACHMENT 2 - Judith McHutchison’s compilation of relevant Hansard records.
(4) Hansard records which indicate the strong market pressure that was being bought to bear on the government by infertile couples to be provided with children.
ATTACHMENT 3 - 1971 Manual of Adoption Practices
(5) The promotion and marketing practices through the media by the Dept. of Welfare of babies as unwanted, thereby stigmatising and demonizing the abandoning mother while at the same time deifying the infertile couples as their saviours. This is still the myth that is held by the majority in society today. This myth is at the root of the incredible rage our children hold towards us and the reason they have such a need to continually be grateful to their adoptive parents.
There has never been information given by the adoption industry detailing their practices of denying mothers their legal rights or forbidding them to see their children or the heavy sedation they were forced to endure In its own literature Social Workers discuss the dreadful grief of the mother and the fact they knew she never willingly gave away her child. They purposely did not reveal these facts as society would not have accepted such inhumane and barbaric behaviour even in that sphere of time and their superiors writing in their manuals made it clear that adoption was to be promoted in only a very favourable light.
The 1971 Manual of Adoption practices in New South Wales states....... “However by virtue of having a formal organisation these agencies will have increased responsibility in arousing the community interest in a good standard of adoption practice, and also in attempting to ensure that constructive and pertinent information is published rather than highly emotional articles and talks which put adoption on the wrong basis.”
How many of you on the Committee knew before this Inquiry about the high level of drugs given to mothers or the many other illegal and abusive practices we were subjected to???
(6) A graph that indicates the level of ex nuptial births in the sixties in relation to those being adopted. The number of adoptions per ex nuptial births was diminishing at an extraordinary rate at the same time the social work profession was growing particularly with its preoccupation with adoption and providing a service for the infertile. They had to get babies from some where! It seems that adoption was not social mores, but a provider of jobs for those that worked in the industry.
ATTACHMENT 4 Judy McHutchison’s graph included in her 1986 thesis - ‘Relinquishing a Child The Circumstances and Effects of Loss’
(7) Letters from a church run organisation - St. Anthony’s Home for unmarred Mothers, soliciting funds from adoptive parents as gratitude for services rendered.
ATTACHMENT 5 - Copy of letter from St. Anthony’s Home for Unmarried Mothers
(8) Treating mothers in the hospital differently from married mothers with the intent of isolating, shaming and dehumanising us in order to procure our children for others.
(9) Administering stupefying drugs with the intent of procuring our children for others
ATTACHMENT 6 - A Copy of a Drug Schedule
(10) Forbidding mothers to see their babies for the purpose of breaking the bond with the intent of procuring their children for others.
(11) Hiding the child from the mother, keeping the child in a locked nursery so mother could have no access and abducting mother from the hospital without her permission to a locale miles away so she had no means whereby she could have any access to her child. These practices were implemented in order to procure children for the benefit of others.
(12) Forcing a mother to sign against her will, whilst she was in trauma and shock, whilst she was drugged, whilst she was brainwashed into believing that adoption was her only option or that it was in her child’s best interests - this was done to procure children for the benefit of others and in doing so provided jobs for those in the industry and donations for various organisations..
(13) Not informing a young women’s parents of the benefits that were available for their daughter to assist her to keep her child or of any other option than adoption or warning same that their daughter could suffer emotional and mental damage from being permanently separated from her child. This was done with the express purpose of eliciting the support of the parents in the coercion of the mother with the intent of procuring her child for the benefit of others.
(14) Using the term “in the best interests of the child”, was illegal as it was used as a powerful tool for coercing the mother into signing the adoption consent.
Pamela Roberts, Senior Social Worker at Crown St.Womens’ Hospital at a meeting at Queen Victoria Hospital 27.5.75 says “.......Most girls were usually aware that adoption was the best plan.” How does a teenager come to that unnatural conclusion? Edward Mech says the only way is to artificially introduce it, and that is the duty of the Social Worker....”
ATTACHMENT 7 & 8 - Page from the minutes of a meeting between representatives of the adoption industry held at Queen Victoria Hospital
(15) Denying immigrants and orphan women any knowledge of any financial benefits that were available with the intent purpose of denying them any opportunity to parent their own children.
CHILDREN - THE PRIORITY OF THE INFERTILE
Judy McHutchison’s 1985 paper, ‘ADOPTION IN N.S.W. - AN HISTORICAL PESPECTIVE’, makes it very apparent in whose interests adoption was ... - ‘A booklet titled Child Welfare printed in 1958 makes it quite clear that the Dept. viewed adoption as a service to couples. ‘The Dept. provides an adoption service which is administered by the Dependant Children Branch, for married couples who desire to adopt children. This service which is provided free of charge has three phases
(1) The location of suitable children, mainly babies for adoption; (2) placement of such children with specially selected adopting parents. (3) the preparation and submission of the necessary documents to the Supreme Court for consideration.
To further illustrate the point McHutchison’s paper quotes Hansard during a debate in 1965 where this comment is made by the Honourable Evelen Barron;- “Careful supervision of the adoption laws is necessary. Pressure exerted by people who want to adopt children has been one of the great difficulties that the Minister and the department have had to bear. The scarcity occurs not in the number of people who want to adopt children but in the number of children who are available for adoption. Often not enough children are available. The waiting time is caused not by the department’s having been to slow in dealing with application but rather because of the shortage of children suitable for adoption. People want to adopt more children and take them into their homes than the number available to supply the demand.
The Manual of Adoption practices in New South Wales, Childcare Committee of NSW (AASW) 1971 states ...”The validity of giving preferences to childless couples is currently being questioned.......” And further “....Where personal and emotional pressures are put on one worker in the past, it was hard to avoid a tendency to be centred on the adoptive applicants.
In ‘Open Adoption as Standard practice’, May-June 1984 - Child Welfare League of America, Reuben Pannor and Annette Baran state, “....Why were we adoption professionals not more critical of our practice? During the 1940’s and 50’s we were relinquishment oriented. Social workers felt that they had failed in their jobs if too many mothers chose to rear their children. In defending our practice, we put the onus on the birthparents, whom we labelled “disturbed” if they fought the pressures of relinquishment. We supported the needs of adoptive parents, whom we saw as the primary clients....”
Even Leontine Young who was an ardent advocate for infant adoptions by infertile couples says in “Is Money our Trouble” a paper presented at the National Conference of Social Workers Cleveland 1953 - “....the tendency growing out of the demand for babies is to regard unmarried mothers as breeding machines...(by people intent) upon securing babies for quick adoptions.”
So it seems the concept of the unmarried mother as a breeder was alive and well here at home, to quote Mary McLelland spokeswoman for the Australian Association of Social Workers 1967, & Supervisor of Professional Training, Dept. of Social Work, University of Sydney “.....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 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” ...... The natural parents must resolve, if possible, conflicts about the surrender of the child....”
Obviously Ms McLelland agreed with Mr. Joseph Reid who in his paper, ‘Principles, values and assumptions underlying adoption practice,’ (Social Work, (USA) Vol 2, No. 1, January 1957) states “....It is not an unwarranted interference with the unmarried mother to presume that in most cases it will be in the child’s best interests for her to release her child for adoption....The concept that the unmarried mother and her child constitute a family is to me unsupportable. There is no family in any real sense of the word. The concept that the unmarried mother has an absolute right for self-determination is to me fallacious, too, ...” Joseph Reid was the Executive Director of the Child Welfare League of America.
Finally Pamela Roberts, Senior Social Worker at Crown St. Women Hospital says in, ‘Hospital Administration’ December 1968, “...During the ante natal period the patient should be helped to come to a decision about the future of her baby....It must always be remembered that any reference to unmarried mothers and illegitimate children brings a strong emotional reaction in most people because these are things seen as a threat to the concept of the family as the unit of our society...” So it seems Social Workers were advised to help us come to a decision whilst we were still pregnant - wasn’t that illegal? It seems that the job description of Social Workers in this country was to procure children from unmarried mothers as they and their children were not a family, and give these children to infertile couples who were their primary clients as a way to solve their marital problems caused by infertility. The demand was great, the supply was short and jobs where women had a position of power was few and far between “You know I actually feel like God”, said Mrs. M. Bosanquet social worker for the Anglican Adoption Agency at an Adoption Triangle meeting in 1982, when she was describing her experience of handing babies to infertile couples. (McHutchison, 1985)
CHALLENGING THE VALIDY OF THE CONSENT
What was the legal process that was supposed to precipitate the signing of the consent?
‘Child Welfare’ 1958 states.....“Most of the babies come from large public hospitals where the mother has indicated that she does not desire to keep the child. In these cases the mother is visited in hospital by a specialist lady District Officer who fully explains to the mother the facilities which the Department can offer to affiliate the child; to assist with monetary allowance (Section 27 aid); or by admission to State control until the mother is in a position to resume custody and control of the child. When all these aids have been rejected and the mother still desires to surrender the child for adoption, the full import of surrendering her child is explained. Only when the mother still insists does the Department‘s officer prepare a form of surrender. This form must be signed by the mother and witnessed by a Justice of the Peace who, in turn, must furnish an affidavit to the effect that the instrument of consent was read over and explained and in the belief of the Justice, understood by the mother.”
“If the mother has left hospital with her baby and later applies to the Department personally or by letter, a similar procedure is observed, but generally by a District Officer or an officer of the Adoptions Section.
An internal Health Department Circular No. 82/297 Issued: 1 September 1982, titled Health Commission Policy on Adoption - states The policy paper notes that a number of practices have been identified which occur in some public hospitals, in relation to adoption matters which are contra-indicated on either mental health or legal rounds.
Undue pressure being place on unmarried women to surrender their infants for adoption (an offence under Section 51 of the Adoption of Children’s Act),
unwillingness on the part of hospital personnel to grant the same rights of information and contacts with their infants to women who are considering surrendering their infants for adoption as are accorded other women.
unwillingness on the part of hospital personnel to respect such women’s wishes and right to choose a given name for their infants.
inadequate attention to matters of privacy and confidentiality in regard to such women about their infants.
the continuing practice of advising women and men with fertility problems to apply to adopt a child without adequately exploring the range of alternatives and without ensuring access to comprehensive information and/or counselling services.
HEALTH COMMISSION OF NEW SOUTH WALES
A Policy Concerning the Rights of Parents Planning to Surrender a Child for Adoption and Hospital Practices in Regard to Such Parents
Prior to the birth of such a child, access to an adequate information and counselling service is essential.
A single mother whatever her age is the sole legal guardian of her child and remains so until a consent to adoption is signed. She therefore has the rights of access to her child and cannot legally be denied this. The mother has a right to name her child.
An adoption consent may be proved invalid under the terms of the Adoption of Children Act, 1965 (Section 31 (b) 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 the way of her asserting this right, may readily be interpreted as duress if the validity of an adoption 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.
ATTACHMENT 9 - Health Dept. Circular No. 82/297
Pamela Roberts, retired Senior Social Worker and Head Social Worker and Policy Maker for Crown Street Women’s Hospital from 1964 until 1976 made a sworn written statement on the 30th of September 1994, filed in the Supreme Court of New South Wales on the 14th of October 1994 by William Vincent McManus, Solicitor from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in the Matter of Judith Marie McHutchison v the State of New South Wales wherein Roberts states......... “If a teenage single mother or indeed any single mother had not received before giving birth;
(a) advice on sources of financial assistance;
(b) accommodation available for herself and the baby up to birth;
(c) the finality of the step of adoption, and the legal consequences;
(d) the possible affects on her of relinquishing her child; and
(e) the practical difficulties of rearing a child alone and unsupported,
then I would regard these omissions to be contrary to the policy and obligations of social workers....”
ATTACHMENT 10 - Pamela Roberts sworn statement.
What actually happened!
Pamela Roberts in the same sworn testimony states:
20. “........In the weeks prior to the birth, if the mother indicated to her hospital social worker that she wished to have her baby adopted, or if the mother was inclined towards this view although had not definitely made a decision to keep the baby, the social worker would mark with a stamp “UB-” (ie. “UB minus) on medical records relating to the birth, meaning “unmarried, baby for adoption” as a guidance for the labour ward.
22. In 1968, a “UB-” marking would affect the procedures surrounding the birth in three main ways: first, as to the contact the mother would have with the child, secondly as to the accommodation of the mother and child after birth, and finally as to the medication that would be administered to the mother.
24. When a mother’s medical record was marked UB-, it was the practice of the hospital prior to the change in policy that in the delivery room after the birth of the baby, and afterwards, (unless the mother then indicated that she wanted to keep the baby), the mother would not have contact with the child. Her baby was taken to the nursery, and she may or may not have seen the baby in the labour ward. This had been the practice for some years when I started work at the hospital.
25. As part of this policy, during the birth a pillow would be placed on the mother’s chest, obscuring the mother’s view of the birth. The usual practice was that the mother was not permitted to see the baby in the delivery room...... In the days after the birth, the mother did not see the baby.
26.......Mothers would probably not be told about the use of a pillow to obscure view of the baby during the delivery.
27. The policy regarding putting a pillow over the chest of the mother during the birth had been aimed at preventing the commencement of bonding between the mother and child, by obscuring the child from view after birth. I was aware that in England the position was different, mothers even breast fed and kept the baby with them for a few days. It was felt in England that it was potentially traumatic for the mothers if the babies were adopted without the mother ever seeing them.
29. The second result of a “UB-” marking through the 1960’s was that the mother would be moved within hours of the birth, if this was medically approved, to a related facility where she would convalesce for a number of days. The most used facility in this regard was the Lady Wakehurst Hospital annexe in Waverley.
34. In UB- cases, the drug stilboestrol was administered to mothers to suppress lactation. .....In the 1960’s social workers, prior to the birth, would not routinely tell mothers about the use of stillboestrol to stop lactation if they were going to adopt.
38. I recall that the Child Welfare officer had to sign an affidavit as to the fitness of a person of the mother to consent to the adoption at the time, and her understanding of the documents she was signing.
39. Under the policy mothers were told by the hospital social workers that if subsequently they did not wish to have the baby adopted they had 30 days after signing the consent form to change their mind.
As part of this policy, during the birth a pillow would be placed on the mother’s chest, obscuring the mother’s view of the birth. The usual practice was that the mother was not permitted to see the baby in the delivery room....In the days after the birth the mother did not see the baby. The Policy manual would reflect these procedures.
16. I recognised the potential for harm to mothers in their later life if there were hasty decisions or feelings of coercion.........”
Yet in a meeting (many years prior to the above testimony under oath) of representatives from Unmarried Homes held at Queen Victoria Hospital 27/5/75 Pamela Roberts states most girls “....... had strong but subtle pressure to have baby adopted. Very difficult for girl who hadn’t fully resolved the issue before admittance to a hostel”
In consideration of all of the above we believe that nearly all adoptions taken from the 1950’s up until present have been illegally obtained.
Consents were usually obtained from minors.
Consents were obtained under duress and constant coercion.
The most common term used to coerce was “adoption is ‘In the best interests of the child’. If you love your child you will giver her/him up. How can you give a child all the material things a two parent family can? How can you provide for your baby when there is no help available? If you keep your baby you are being selfish.”
Coercion was most apparent in the maternity ward. Here even though the mother was still the legal guardian of her child she was denied any access to her child. She had obstacles put in her way by having either a sheet placed up so she could not view her child or a pillow placed on her chest, without her permission.
Immediately after the birth the mother was given stilboestrol to dry up the milk. Then very heavily sedated whilst she awaited transportation. No mother that we have spoken to ever saw a Social Worker at this time. Medical staff have since stated that they were told that they were not allowed to speak to the young mothers in case they asked for help. Mothers were isolated and ignored. So we must seriously question how the law was followed in giving the mother her right to make a decision after the delivery when no one was allowed to talk to her, she was heavily drugged, her milk was being dried up and the medical staff merely followed the code UB- without at any time discussing with the mother what she had decided?
Mothers from Crown Street were taken, without their permission to an annex of the hospital, usually whilst heavily sedated, without their babies. Here they were chemically incarcerated, not allowed any visitors, nor make outside calls, denied access to money and clothes - as these were locked up. Told they could not leave the hospital until the consent was signed. If they objected they were threatened.
After being subjected to psychological cruelty, coercion and duress the mother relented and signed, they then had “SOCIALLY CLEARED’ written on their medical records and were allowed to leave. (One mother’s records state that she left the hospital before being Socially Cleared”, and if she did not return when she promised the police would be called.)
ATTACHMENT 11 - Copy of Discharge Record
If mothers still refused to sign they were released from the annex without their babies who remained out of their reach back at Crown Street. If they tried to obtain their babies from the hospital they were intercepted by either medical staff or Social Workers who threatened to have them removed by force from the hospital or who misinformed them telling them the baby was no longer at the hospital but had been removed to a site unknown where they would soon be taken for adoption.
Social Workers intent was to deprive the mother, the legal guardian of her child for the benefit of others - the infertile couple. Whilst at the same time using the mother and her child to benefit herself to maintain her employment. In so doing she was using the mother and her child as a service
The Social Worker deliberately withheld information from the mother and lied to her when asked about any support that may have been available to her.
No consents as far as we are aware were ever witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. In the 1971 Manual of Adoption Practices the policy recommended was that the girl knew the person who was taking the consent and they had prior contact so the young mother had time to peruse the forms she was supposed to sign. This as far as we know never happened. Usually the person who took the consent was a stranger and no forms were ever sighted prior to the signing.
No mothers were ever informed of the benefits that were available, (until recently most Social Workers perpetuated the lie that there were no benefits until 1973)
No mother was ever informed of any of the alternatives to adoption consequently no mother ever made an informed decision.
Upon obtaining medical records under the Freedom of Information Act most mothers were horrified to find that they had signed the Consent under the influence of mind altering barbiturates.
Mothers files were marked with a code which informed the medical staff in what manner she was to be treated. The files were always marked whist she was pregnant.. This was a presumption taken by the Social Worker that a mother had agreed to adoption prior to the birth and therefore we presume illegal.
The papers were bought to the mother, without her asking usually whilst she was still in hospital, usually on the first possible day the mother was legally allowed to sign, the fifth day, (though many mothers state that their consent were taken before that day, some mothers even stating their consents were obtained whilst still pregnant). Consent was taken without any person accessing her mental state or her ability to make such a momentous decision after going through the trauma of giving birth and the grief of having no contact with her baby. The unsolicited papers were presented to the mother for signing, with no prior opportunity for her to read through the material, with the implicit expectation that the mother would sign. In the 1971 Manual of Adoption Practice states “ .....Moreover the Court may in such circumstances even discharge the Order after it has been made. This could be done, for example, if the natural mother, having changed her mind about wishing to keep the baby were able to satisfy the Court that the effect of signing the instrument of consent had not been fully explained to her”
At no time was the imbalance of power, the vulnerable mother - the professional in authority, ever taken into consideration, nor was any advocate appointed to protect the mother’s rights or ensure that her rights were not being violated. The mother usually a minor was never given the protection of the law as was her right as such but instead her youth, her inexperience, her lack of power, her poverty, and ignorance of her rights were exploited for the benefit of others. Most mothers, to this day, are unaware that they had any other choice but adoption. Most mothers assume because what happened to them was inflicted by doctors, nurses, and social workers in Unmarried Hostels and Private and Public Hospitals that their treatment must be legal and as a result of punishment meted out to them for getting pregnant out of wedlock.
It seems that women who were most vulnerable became the victims of this abusive system. Mothers who were unmarried, migrant or orphaned. Some married women who suffered Post Natal Depression, or did not speak English also got caught up in the net. In a smaller percentage of cases Grandmothers found themselves convinced by professionals that their daughter’s lives would be ruined by the illicit pregnancy. In these cases neither mother nor grandmother was ever given any alternatives to adoption, told of the financial and other supports in place or warned of the dire mental health problems that could result from Relinquishment of their child. If the Grandparents showed any reluctance to help their daughters this was exploited.
What Contractual Laws were broken?
CONTRACTUAL INCAPACITY AS A MINOR
Mothers consents were obtained by psychological and physical cruelty. Often the mother was told she could not see her baby unless she signed the consent. Other mothers were told if they did not sign their child would be made a Ward of the State, or mothers were threatened with being charged with abandoning their babies and told they would lose their children anyway. Mothers were kept as prisoners in the Unmarried mothers’ homes and the hospitals. They were denied access to their babies. They were denied their rights has legal guardians of their children. They had obstacles placed in their way to see touch or hold their children. Medical staff often made demeaning and derogatory remarks about their unmarried status. Medical Staff made unsolicited suggestions to mothers that it was in their child’s’ best interests if they were adopted. Mothers were drugged.
NEGLIENT MISREPRESENTATION: -
Mothers were owed a duty of care by the Social Workers: - Dept. of Welfare, Medical Staff : - Dept. of Health. This duty of care was breached and great loss was incurred by mothers. Both Social Workers and Medical Staff had positions of authority and influence over expectant vulnerable young women. Both were in the position of giving advice and information which mothers relied upon. As such both medical staff and social workers owed a duty to ensure that the information that was given to mothers was true, factual and was for their benefit. This they failed to do, instead they gave information and acted in a way towards the mother that was abusive, punitive and exploitative with the sole intent to procure her child for the benefit of others.
UNDUE INFLUENCE; -
A special fiduciary relationship existed between the social worker, deemed the professional, and the young mother who depended on the expertise of same to educate her of her rights. The social worker withheld vital information that would have helped the mother to make an informed choice. The social worker lied, tricked and negatively influenced the mothers for the specific intent of maintaining the service she was offering to infertile couples. Mothers were repeatedly told during their pregnancy, in the maternity ward and after the delivery that if they loved their babies they would give them up and that adoption was in the best interest of their children as they could not give them all a two parent family could. Medical staff colluded in this exercise by treating the mother in a dehumanising manner and by administering drugs to keep her in stupefied state, placing pillows and other objects to obstruct her view of her child during the birthing process. Denying mothers any access to their children and ignoring mothers’ requests to see their children.
OPRESSION AND DURESS :-
Mothers entered into a contract as a result of pressure both psychological - taunted by you are “unfit to mother your child, you cannot give this child all a two parent family can, there is a wonderful loving couple who cannot have children of their own” - (making the mother feel guilty about her pregnancy at the same time responsible for the infertility of strangers), and physical - by tying mothers to beds, not allowing them access to their children, drugging and restraining them in wards and at various locations miles away from their children. Verbal - mothers were often harassed, sworn at, called sluts and told they were being treated this way because they ‘deserved it’ - becoming pregnant out of wedlock
Catching bargains with other persons at a disadvantage; the mothers were poor and ignorant of their rights, had no independent advice, they gained nothing from the transaction.
EQUITABLE FRAUD; -
Social workers for their gain and the gain of those they chose, exploited the vulnerability of mothers. Mothers gained nothing from signing the consent - instead they suffered grief, loss and mental health damage.
INEQUALTIY OF BARGAINING POWER: -
Mothers had no independent advice, entered into a contract upon terms which were very unfair, their bargaining power was grievously impaired by reason of their needs and ignorance of their rights They were disadvantaged by extreme vulnerability both mental and physical, having delivered a baby and then being separated from it. They suffered undue influence and pressure, bought to bear on them for the benefit others.