Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sound Bytes and References

SOUND BYTES AND REFERENCES: NB: This is not about adoption.
Christine A. Cole BSc.(Psy) Soc Hon LLB GDL

The Federal government has already admitted that there is a white stolen generation
The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia: Overseas Adoption in Australia: Report on the inquiry into adoption of children from overseas House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services November 2005 Canberra"The stigma associated with forced adoption practices in the past leading to the 'stolen generation' (both Indigenous and non indigenous mothers and children)" (p.2).

JM: What do you say to the fact that some mothers say there is a ‘white stolen generation’?

GR: It’s true … there is a white stolen generation as well as a black one. And if you look at the white generation numbers, there is a lot more of the white generation that were stolen than the black generation.

JM: Why then would it not be recognised?

GR: Oh, I think it is, in a way, but people do not want to open the door … it is almost too big a problem to deal with … if people had of opened the door to somebody proving that illegal things were done, it would have opened up a huge lot of problems for the Crown Law Department ... to undo a whole lot of things that happened … they want it to go away … it is a complication they could do without.

JM: You mean it is an inconvenient truth?

GR: It is an inconvenient truth …

(Extract from an interview with Dr Geoff Rickarby, 9 August 2007)

Gair, S. Missing Voices About a Foreign Place: Exploring midwifery practice with midwives who cared for single mothers and babies for adoption in Queensland (1960-1990). Journal of Inderdisciplinary Gender Studies Vol 10, 2, 2006/2007
(p.58) "Bernoth (1999) and Olsen (2004) identify that the moral bullying of Australian single mothers resulted in a 'white' stolen generation."

Children were kidnapped at birth
Chisholm Testimony NSW Inquiry into Past Adoptions

Whilst mothers and babies were falsely imprisoned
Chisholm as above

Drugged and traumatised then forced to sign consents -
Dr. Geoff Rickarby Testimony NSW Inquiry

many mothers, if they did not sign consents, were told their babies had died
(Elphic: 2000, p. 44; Report 21: 2000, p. 227; Report 22: 2000, pp. 145-146; Cheater: 2009, p. 182; Critchley: 2006, p. 113)

Damage was well known from the 50’s: The Report noted that:
“It is very desirable, however, both for the child’s physical health and for the mother’s psychological well-being that there should be greater facilities for unmarried mothers to keep their children with them for up to three months after birth….[and] that a document signifying the consent of a mother shall not be valid unless the infant is at least six weeks old when the consent is given, was intended to ensure that children below that age were not placed for adoption…we found little disagreement with the view that it is preferable for a child not to be taken away from his mother before the age of six weeks (Report of the Departmental Committee on the Adoption of Children: 1954, pp. 14-15).

In Australia in "1958 the Special Committee on Native Matters warned that `removal of a child from his mother at an early age can cause serious psychological and mental disturbances'. This warning was ignored” (WA Government submission page 26 cited in HREOCR Chapter 7).

WA child welfare Dept run a propaganda campaign that the babies of unwed mothers were unwanted - this was to make adoption palatable to society - as society would never have condoned the forced removal of newborns from their mothers.Dr. Rosemary Kerr The Appeal of Blue Eyes

Justice Richard Chisolm – Review of the Adoption of Children Act. Report No.69. He stated that the practices were illegal.

Cathleen Sherry, Lawyer and legal academic involved in the same Review Act., when it was conducted early 1990’s – wrote:
What these individual women were describing were not isolated incidences with atypical doctors and social workers: rather their experiences revealed systemic violations of human rights. The treatment they received from doctors, social workers, charitable organizations and government depts. violated their right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, free from discrimination, free from arbitrary interference with the family, as well as their right to be entitled to special protection as mothers

Chris Cole – reference from the book Releasing the Past:
“A primary principle of international law is that a child has the right to be brought up in its family of origin. This principle was supposed to have been followed in Australia. Further, a single mother was, and is, allowed by law and common human decency to have the right to see, hold and feed her infant. She had the right to name her child and to have unfettered access to her baby in the maternity hospital. When a child is born to a single mother, it is not subject to adoption legislation; its mother is the legal guardian and has the same rights as any other mother. Legally, the Adoption Act does not come into operation until the mother signs a ‘consent to adopt’ form and then only if the consent is informed and taken without duress or coercion. Separating a mother from her child, or placing pillows or sheets to obstruct the view she has of her baby at the birth in order to facilitate an adoption was, and continues to be, classed as coercion and is therefore illegal. Injecting mothers with drugs to dry up their milk immediately after the birth, without their permission, was and is illegal and deems to presume that the mother has already signed a ‘consent to adopt’ form. Dr. Geoff Rickarby has stated that the act of injecting a mother with stilboestrol immediately after the birth constitutes a major assault as mothers were not informed that this would occur and the routine ‘consent to necessary procedures’ that patients sign on being admitted to hospital would not cover the consent to have their milk dried up by an injection.

A mother was supposed to be warned of the ‘dire psychological consequences’ that could result because of her decision to relinquish her child. She was also supposed to be advised of all means of financial assistance available to her to assist her to keep her child. It was only after all alternatives to adoption and means of available support had been explored, and if the mother continued to insist on adoption, that the papers were brought to her to be signed. No decision was supposed to be made prior to the fifth day after the birth or if the mother was distressed. If the mother was not definite in her decision, she was legally entitled to leave the hospital with her baby and to make the decision weeks or months later.
INTERNATION LAW: Two fundamental principles in international adoptions (1960) were that:

careful consideration should be given to all possible alternatives before a child is removed from his own relatives for adoption,


parents should be warned of the legal and psychological consequences

that might result from adoption. These principles were re-stated in Australia by the Minister for Child Welfare (1961):

… the child must be protected from unnecessary separation from his own family and that there should be no attempt to persuade the natural parents to place the child.

Many mothers were given large doses of drugs prior to and after the birth, often right up until they signed the ‘consent to adopt’ form. Some of the drugs used were: sodium amytal, chloral hydrate and sodium pentobarbitone; all of which are mind-altering barbiturates. The curtailing of mothers’ rights and the above coercive practices meant that by 1972 there were nearly 10000 babies adopted by non-relatives in Australia. This extraordinarily high number of adoptions was a social aberration that did not occur before the 1960s and rapidly declined with the rise of the women’s movement in the early 1970s. Christine Cole -Reference from the book Releasing the Past.

Report 22 NSW Standing Committee on social issues. - NSW Inquiry into Past Adoption Practices

7.61 Mothers argued that the practice denied their legal rights as guardian of the child, explained above, the Health Commission stated that the mother was the legal guardian of the child until the signing of the consent form. Justice Richard Chisholm agreed that the mother remained guardian of the child until she gave consent and that preventing her from having access to the child prior to the consent “would not have been authorized.”

7.62 The Committee therefore believes that the practice of denying a mother access to her child prior to the signing of consent was unlawful. Those professionals who contributed to the process where access was denied were clearly acting unlawfully.

Recommendation 17

The departments, private agencies, churches, hospitals, professional organizations and individuals involved in past adoption practices should be encouraged to issue a formal apology to the mothers, fathers, adoptees and their families who have suffered as a result of past adoption practices.

It is only when the suffering of those most directly damaged by a socio-cultural disaster are heard that there is any opportunity for a Nation to evaluate a malign aspect of its own development. In the instance of the thousands of Australian young mothers who lost a baby to adoption in the latter half of the last century, the distress and consequences are little known because they were dealt with one by one, and, at the time, mostly isolated from their family, partner and friends.
Geoffery A. Rickarby MB BS FRANZCP MANZAP Member of the Faculty of Child Psychiatry RANZCP(A PSYCHIATRIST WHO HAS SEEN ALL ASPECTS OF ADOPTION OVER 35 YEARS) reference from the book “Releasing the Past.

Conclusion – Chris Cole
During the NSW Inquiry (1998-2000) into past practices in adoption, representatives of an Indigenous group that facilitates re-uniting Indigenous mothers with their stolen children gave evidence. They stated that Indigenous mothers were brutally separated from their infants at the birth. Those babies were subsequently adopted or fostered out. The removal of their children was undertaken by the same social workers and medical staff (in the same institutions and under the same laws), who were involved in the theft of white babies. They further stated that there was a common theme between the black and white stolen generations. For instance, Indigenous mothers told them of the use of pillows and sheets to obstruct their view of their baby at the birth with the intention to interrupt bonding, and of being forced to sign consents before allowed to leave hospitals while under the influence of drugs: the same procedures used to gain white mothers’ babies. There has never been any question that these families are part of the stolen generation – and thankfully they have been apologized too – the loss of these mothers and their families has never been dismissed as social mores or explained away by statements such as the mothers did not have recourse to financial benefits.

Furthermore it is now well established that money had been available to assist single mothers to keep their babies since 1912. From 1923 onwards single mothers were given the same financial assistance as deserted wives. The different outcome for single mothers though was that there was no Governmental push to remove the babies of deserted wives or widows – the reality was that white single mothers without family support, orphaned or migrant were preyed upon, our rights extinguished and for that we want and deserve an apology. NB this not about adoption – this is about how our children were stolen at birth, without our consent, this is a human and civil rights crime against mothers’ and their babies and should be acknowledged as such.

Christine A. Cole BSc.(Psy) Soc Hon LLB GDL

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