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Families touched by adoption rally together
Emotions will be running high tonight as dozens of Hunter residents affected by adoption meet to talk about their experiences. The meeting, run by the Benevolent Society's Post Adoption Resource Centre, will welcome adoptees, birth and adoptive parents, as well as other family members to offer advice and support.
Mother of stolen girl still waiting
An Indian mother whose child was kidnapped and illegally adopted in Australia has accused the girl's adoptive parents and officials here of blocking the now teenager from having contact with her and of making no effort to try to repatriate the girl. Fatima, who uses only one name, will travel to New Delhi on Tuesday to try to meet with officials and hold a media conference as part of a bid to be reunited with her daughter, Zabeen, who was kidnapped by professional child-stealers near the family home in the slums of Chennai in 1998.
Media: Adoption Fraud - India, Australia, India
Change in policy 'must be backed up with support'
Deborra-Lee Furness has joined a chorus of child welfare advocates and carers to welcome moves by the NSW government to expand adoption, while warning more practical and financial support will be vital. Furness, who has adopted two children from overseas with husband Hugh Jackman, pictured below, is a passionate advocate for improving adoption and is a founder of National Adoption Awareness Week. ''We just want kids to have families, we don't care if they're from Parramatta or Nigeria,'' she said. The Community Services Minister, Pru Goward, announced proposals this week to make adoption, not long-term foster care, the preferred option for local children who cannot be restored to their own families. ''What children really need, the ideal, is a home for life,'' she said. The focus on providing children with stability has been widely welcomed, but most argue the practical challenges will be immense. The opposition community services spokeswoman, Linda Burney, raised doubts as to whether sufficient numbers of parents would be willing to take on children. ''We know that these children, particularly the babies, are born with significant health problems and can be addicted to opiates; the older children are often deeply scarred, damaged and many have disabilities,'' she said. Ms Goward dismissed Ms Burney's comments as ''ignorant'' and said there were 700 foster carers wanting to adopt. But Ms Furness said appropriate support was vital: ''It's not for every family, it's a big deal to take on an older child who's been traumatised.''
Secrets and lies in the histories of overseas babies
Until she was in her late 20s, Kim Myung-Soo believed she was put up for adoption because she was born out of wedlock to South Korean factory workers. She was four when an Australian couple picked her up from Seoul and brought her up in rural NSW. But when the 30-year-old from Canterbury was reunited with her birth mother in Seoul, she was stunned by the truth. Her parents had been married, did not work in a factory, and her real name was altered to Myung-Joo. She learnt her mother was forced to relinquish her in order to remarry after her father had died. Single mothers are shunned in Korean society. "Most of the Korean adoptees I know have confronted problems in the search for their family," said the social work student. "Half records, false information, whole files missing. Could be something big, something small, but it's nearly a given something will be incorrect." Adoptee support groups and adoption experts are calling on the federal government to recognise the suffering of overseas birth mothers and their children in its impending apology for domestic forced adoption practices. They claim many intercountry adoptions were also characterised by lack of freely given consent, deception and coercion, and that the government failed to prevent overseas children being removed in conditions it was opposed to in Australia.
Media: Australia, Korea, South
Subsidies change incentives for adoption of foster children
The structure of a federal program that provides monthly subsidies to promote the adoptions of special needs children in foster care may actually be delaying some adoptions, according to a new study by University of Notre Dame economist Kasey Buckles. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act (AACWA), passed in 1980, provides an average of $670 per month for foster parents of special needs children, while adoptive parents of special needs children receive an average of $571 per month. “Special needs” refers to foster children who may be harder to place in permanent adoptive homes because of age, race, or mental or physical disability.
Korean-Australian woman finds she was falsely adopted
An Australian woman has found she was the subject of a falsified adoption in South Korea, where her biological mother was told her baby was stillborn.
Media: Adoption Fraud, Australia, Korea, South
"I kept asking for my baby and they kept telling me 'no'"
Christine Cole was 16 when, heavily drugged and in agonising pain, her daughter was pulled from her body in a labour ward in Crown Street Women's Hospital. The teenage mother lay there, waiting to hear the new baby cry, and when she could not, tried to sit up and see whether the infant was OK. ''Three nurses threw me back on the bed and held me down,'' she recalls of that 1969 day, ''and one of the nurses said 'this has got nothing to do with you'.'' Cole is one of an unknown number of mostly young, unmarried women in NSW between the 1950s and 1970s whose children were taken from them in what is commonly referred to as ''forced adoption''. She, and many others, call it kidnapping. ''I kept asking for my baby and they kept telling me 'no, you're too young, you're not married','' she said. ''After five days they came with papers and said you cannot leave this hospital until you sign these papers.'
Media: Australia, Stolen Generations
Life of loss and trauma
What do you say to the woman who had a pillow held over her face as she gave birth, to prevent her from laying eyes on the baby she was being forced to relinquish? What do you say to the woman who, during a forbidden cuddle with her newborn, stroked the downy softness of her baby's cheek knowing the single memory would need to last a lifetime? What do you say to the woman whose fretting for her lost son became so intolerable that she tried to reclaim him with a shotgun only to end up in jail, locked away from the child she ached for?
Media: Australia, Stolen Generations, Tasmania
Victims to help word adoption apology
People directly affected by past forced adoption practices are being asked to help the federal government frame its national apology. Some 150,000 unwed mothers had their babies taken against their will by churches, hospitals and adoption agencies in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. A Senate committee which investigated the commonwealth's involvement recommended in February that the government formally apologise to victims.
Media: Australia, Stolen Generations
Government ends Ethiopian adoption program
Prospective parents will no longer be able to adopt children from Ethiopia after the government ended its adoption program with the country. Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the decision had come after years of problems with the program. "Unfortunately the adoption environment in Ethiopia has become increasingly unpredictable, complex and uncertain, leaving many prospective Australian parents in limbo for years," Ms Roxon said. The inter-country adoption agreement had been plagued with issues, including a one-year suspension of adoptions. Ms Roxon said the government would work with Australian families who had been trying to adopt a child from Ethiopia. "I know that there are families who have been committed to the program and will be disappointed."
Media: Australia, Ethiopia
Forced adoption victims get apology
PARENTS and children affected by forced adoptions in Australia will be offered a formal apology from the Federal Government says Attorney General Nicola Roxon. The national apology was the key recommendation of a Senate report on former forced adoption policies and practices tabled earlier this year.
Media: Adoption Fraud, Australia, Stolen Generations
Fatherhood has Evans enjoying ride of his life
Cadel Evans laughs as he recalls how he used to "waste time" at his home in Stabio, Switzerland. That is, until he became a father in January when he and wife Chiara Passerini adopted an orphaned Ethiopian boy named Robel, who was found by police in a cardboard box by the road.
Media: Australia, Celebrity Adoption
Forced adoptions a sorry business in Australia
Hardly any children are put up for adoption in Australia these days. If you want a child, you have to look abroad. It was not like that in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when each year thousands of unwed mothers were pressured by well-meaning midwives and social workers into giving up their babies to turn childless couples into families. Some of these women, often teenage mums, were sedated while giving birth and woke up to find their babies gone to new homes, sometimes through the forging of signatures.
Parents cleared of killing son with methadone, eight years after death
"They were found responsible for their son's death, had another child subsequently taken from them and were publicly shamed. But Rochelle Dunlop and her husband John Schreckenberg did not give up there. Yesterday, after a six-year fight to clear their names, a coroner found they did not give their six-month-old son a lethal dose of methadone."
This case was a hot topic in the online child care, fostering and adoption community, where many people jumped to conclusions and got it badly wrong.
Six years on, baby's death is officially a mystery
"The death of a six-month-old boy in 2003 will remain a mystery after a coroner overturned an earlier finding this morning that he may have died after he was deliberately given methadone by his drug dependent mother."
This case caused a lot of commotion in Sydney back in 2003. It now seems as if it wasn't as clear cut as the media wanted to make out.
Take back our children, say angry foster parents
Helen and Brian MacDonald believe the children they have raised for the past 6½ years are the ''best two foster kids in Australia.''
But they have decided they will not look after them any more because the state government has cut payments to foster carers of 16- and 17-year-olds, from January 1. In most cases households will be $214 a fortnight worse off.
''It's a shocking thing to do,'' says Mrs MacDonald of the couple's decision. ''But we feel we are being emotionally blackmailed by a minister [Pru Goward] that doesn't care about the children in her care, only about money. They're betting on carers just keeping the children.''
The MacDonalds have refused to sign a placement agreement for Sheila* who is 17 and doing her HSC because it requires them to agree to the new payment. When Declan* turns 16 in May they will decline to care for him, too.
Media: Australia, Foster Care
Loving families look for permanent solution, not temporary fix
As Australia recorded its lowest number of adoptions ever in 2010-11, Julie and Carl Hall were celebrating the adoption of Codie, the third sibling to be legally embraced by the family in recent years. Inter-country adoptions are on a six-year decline and the number of Australian babies available for adoption has dwindled. But in NSW, the number of children adopted by their foster carers is on the rise, from 18 in 2005-6 to 45 last year.
The Weekly's adoption breakfast
Deborra-lee Furness headed a star-studded guest list at a breakfast launching National Adoption Awareness week in Sydney on Monday.
She was joined by Rebecca Gibney, Sandra Sully, Layne Beachley, Professor Kerryn Phelps and MP Bronwyn Bishop, as well as actor Jack Thompson, who gave a passionate speech about the opportunities and love he was given by his adopted family.
Deborra-lee talked about the live-changing nature of adoption, and asked the Australian government to take the issue more seriously.
Woman on a mission
Deborra-Lee Furness is a woman on a mission, campaigning for adoption reform in Australia.
Why I support gay marriage
As a legislator, I have voted for and promoted legislation that accords rights, such as adoption, to homosexual people. I have publicly stated that I don't agree with the Church's teaching on homosexuality. How did such a good Catholic girl arrive at what appears to be a non-Catholic position on this issue?
Proposed Passport Changes To Recognise Gay Parents
"With non-discriminatory legislative reforms already in place, such as adoption and assisted reproductive technologies, to recognise same-sex couples as parents - Government documentation should appropriately reflect these changes."
Traditional Australian families a dying breed
The number of traditional family households is set to shrink to less than a quarter by 2026, with childless homes to become the new norm. The traditional notion of the family has also been reinvented in modern times to include step families, de facto couples, single parents, gay parents, international adoption and surrogacy.
Forced adoptions heartache
In 1969 Robyn Cohen gave birth to a baby girl at the former Gore St public hospital in South Hobart. She was 18 and, like thousands of other young unmarried mothers, was given no choice but to put her baby up for adoption. Mrs Cohen is one of more than 300 women so far to give evidence to a Senate committee investigating forced adoption in Australia.
Saffron's long lost son
"Since he was a boy Adam Brand had wondered about his father. As an adult he was stunned to learn it was the notorious Sydney crime figure 'Mr Sin', reports Kate McClymont."
Vic Labor votes for marriage and adoption
The Victorian Labor Party has endorsed full marriage equality and same-sex adoption rights for Victorians at today’s state conference.
Media: Australia, Gay/Lesbian - Australia
Mums relive trauma of forced adoptions
When she fell pregnant, nineteen-year-old Judy McPherson was taken across state lines, forced to register at a hospital under a false name and emerged from a drug-induced stupor to see her newborn daughter being rushed out of the room. That glimpse, in 1964, was the only one Ms McPherson had of her daughter for the next 36 years.
Media: Australia, Birth Parents
Time to say sorry for all the broken hearts
Some women live with broken hearts, past practices having taken their babies from them for placement in adoption. Some of those children, now adults, live with broken hearts because they were taken from their mothers and placed in adopted families. Fathers, siblings and other family members have lived with broken hearts because of past adoption practices. Some Catholic hospitals and health services played roles promoting and implementing the once widespread policy of placing the children of some unmarried young mothers in the care of adoptive parents.
Media: Australia, Birth Parents, Religion
Mothers on the poverty line 'resort to adoption'
In a submission to a Senate inquiry into former forced-adoption policies in the 1960s and 70s, the council said it feared a return to 1960s levels due to an "ongoing erosion of the level of payments to single mothers". It said insufficient federal government support for single mothers was a "direct contributor" to past forced-adoption practices and called for a boost to current payments to prevent a return to peak adoption levels.
Adopted Australian tennis star hurt by online abuse
Jarmila Gajdosova believes she has become a target for vicious online abuse because she is an adopted Australian. The nation's second highest-ranked tennis player is considering shutting down her Twitter account following a series of obscene comments posted on the social networking website this week.
Media: Adoptees, Australia
Birth certificates fail to tell us the whole story
Birth certificates should reflect who is looking after a child, not just who brought it into the world, writes one advocate of multi-parent recognition. When it comes to families, are we limiting ourselves by only allowing for two legally recognised parents? Last week Senator Penny Wong announced that she and partner Sophie Allouache would be having a child with a known sperm donor. On Wednesday in a landmark decision, a NSW District Court removed the name of a sperm donor from a birth certificate in order to retrospectively recognise the female co-parent. The case of AA v BB is the first NSW decision to test the 2008 amendments to the Status of Children Act, which allow a birth mother and her lesbian de facto partner, who conceived a child through artificial reproductive technology, to be recognised as parents and be listed on their child’s birth certificate.
"As for this whole parenting/legal thing, we all have to be aware that as social mores change so the rules supporting those mores need to adjust as well. That's fine. We should never feel that the law is to impede change; the function of the law is to define the boundaries. If the boundaries change so should the law. Within society there is a natural reluctance to change the law- but a lot of the time that's based on a desire to stay within the perceived comfort zone offered by existing boundaries, not clear reasoning. So how should we record births? Do we need to know who both biological parents are? Well, I reckon it'd be handy for a number of practical reasons- mostly biological and Mendelian. But does it need to be on a public document such as a birth certificate? Probably not. After all, why do we have birth certificates anyway? To prove we were born (which is when we entered our society as a separate entity). It's proof of entitlement as much as anything else. Should Senator Wong be recorded on the birth certificate as a co-parent? Dunno. And to me, it's a moot point. What is important to the child is not what a piece of paper says, it's who's going to take responsiblity for rearing the child. There is a legal element to any birth. Not just the rights of the child but the responsibilities of the involved adults. That's what should be clear right from the start."
Media: Australia, Parenting
Sperm donor name on birth certificate would save pain later, says judge
A NSW judge has suggested allowing for three parents to be on a birth certificate after his landmark decision to remove a sperm donor's name from his 10-year-old daughter's certificate left the man devastated. NSW District Court Judge Stephen Walmsley said yesterday he had no choice after a 2009 retrospective law gave the birth mother's former partner - they separated in 2006 - legal parenting status and state law allowed for only two parents to be registered. The 58-year-old Sydney man is not a legal parent, regardless of being on the birth certificate and having regular access rights, because the child was conceived using artificial insemination.
Media: Australia, Parenting
Adoption on agenda
Adoption Connections in Ipswich is an opportunity for adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and other family members to learn more about the Adoption Act 2009 and how it might affect you. The Benevolent Society Post Adoption Support Queensland team leader Susan Kelly said the meeting would help people connect with others in a similar situation. “Post Adoption Support Queensland (PASQ), a program of the Benevolent Society, provides counselling and support to Queensland people affected by adoption,” Ms Kelly said.
Catholic Church says sorry over forced adoptions
The Catholic Church in Australia will today issue a national apology over past adoption practices that have been described as a "national disgrace". The apology has been prompted by an ABC investigation into claims of abuse and trauma in Newcastle. It is believed at least 150,000 Australian women had their babies taken against their will by some churches and adoption agencies between the 1950s and 1970s. Psychiatrist Geoff Rickarby has treated scores of affected women, and says it is a stain on Australia's history.
Media: Australia, Religion
Child protection is complex: engage with care
This week's article makes it simple: "Adoption! Removal!" Could be a good headline, makes it nice and simple. Our singularly headline-incompatible response: sometimes adoption is a good idea and sometimes it's not. Sometimes it is in the best interests of the child. But for many children and young people, adoption isn't the right approach. Why? Because sometimes children and young people have deep and lasting bonds with their siblings and birth parents, sometimes they aren't in situations where adoption is going to work, sometimes they don't want to be adopted, sometimes there aren't any people who'd consider adopting them.
Adoption story from the heart of India
The Waiting City is the story of an Australian couple, Ben and Fiona (Edgerton and Radha Mitchell), who have arranged to adopt a child. They have come to meet her and take her home but there are delays. As appointments are arranged and complications arise their relationship comes under pressure and their expectations, of themselves and of each other, are laid bare.
Australian Christian Lobby want gays banned from surrogacy
A Christian lobby group says surrogacy should be a last resort for infertile married couples, not a solution for gay and lesbian couples who want children. The Australian Christian Lobby has called on Queensland MPs to amend or reject a new bill to decriminalise altruistic surrogacy, where a woman carries another couple's child for no payment.
Media: Australia, Queensland
It was wrong of me to oppose gay marriage and adoption
If the hairdresser with whom Gillard lives had been female I wonder if her views would be different? And where does Penny Wong stand on this? She is a cabinet member who has fewer civil rights than her colleagues, purely because of her sexuality. Gillard said: 'We believe the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that it's recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman." That statement came on the same day the female Prime Minister of Iceland married her female partner. In Mexico City, capital of a fiercely Catholic country, same-sex marriages and adoption by same-sex couples have been legal since March of this year.
Media: Australia, Gay/Lesbian - Australia, Iceland, Mexico, Religion
Mature eye on adoption
With The Waiting City, the story of a young Australian couple who travel to Calcutta to finalise the adoption of an Indian baby, Sydney-based writer-director Claire McCarthy joins this new creative surge, showing a level of maturity that makes it hard to credit that she's still only in her 20s.
Outdoor Rec Party goes pro-gay
The NSW Outdoor Recreation Party is to change its tune on gay and lesbian issues after merging with the pro-same-sex marriage Liberal Democratic Party. The parties merged to ensure representation on the ballots at the next federal and state election. The merged entity will run as LDP federally and as Outdoor Recreation in NSW.
Media: Australia, New South Wales
Queensland parliament set to pass same-sex surrogacy bill
A Queensland bid to bring uniformity to surrogacy laws has sparked a debate over what it means to be a family and whether same-sex couples should ever be allowed to raise children. Motivated by federal Labor colleague Stephen Conroy's experiences with surrogacy, Premier Anna Bligh moved last year to decriminalise altruistic surrogacy in Queensland, bringing the state in line with other jurisdictions.
Media: Australia, Queensland
Radha's Indian love story
Radha Mitchell has survived a saliva-dripping encounter with a giant croc (Rogue) and toughed it out on an alien planet inhabited by flesheating bats (Pitch Black). But, compared with the emotionally wrenching process of adopting a child in India, a subject she explores in a new Australian drama, those cinematic experiences resemble child's play.
The Waiting City
Writer-director Claire McCarthy's feature is an Australian film shot entirely in India. Its central characters are a couple, Ben and Fiona (Joel Edgerton and Radha Mitchell), who have come to Kolkata to meet the child they have arranged to adopt, and take her home with them. When they arrive, they find obstacles in their way: paperwork, additional meetings, various delays. They have to learn to wait.
Long road to adoption happiness
Six-year-old Eric Spiteri wants for nothing. He lives in a beautiful house at Windaroo, he goes to a good school, plays soccer, rides his bike and has two loving parents. Two years ago, Eric lived in an overcrowded orphanage run by five nuns with 90 other children in one of Africa’s poorest countries, Burundi. The conditions were squalid, many of the children were malnourished and HIV AIDS was rife.
The trauma of forced adoption for shamed single mothers
Sue Martin's first baby spent a few days in her arms, then never saw his mother again. Her second was whisked away at birth, neither seen nor touched by her mother until decades later. In 1966, Martin was 18, in love and engaged. When she became pregnant, they both wanted to keep the baby. But Martin's mother, ashamed of her unmarried pregnant daughter, drove the fiance away and sent Martin to live with her aunt to hide. Martin doesn't remember giving birth or signing the adoption papers and wonders if she was drugged. She does remember that the nurses bound her breasts so she could not breastfeed. The social workers and nurses told her the baby would not be going home with her and her mother refused to help. ''They told us we were sub-human, horrid people,'' Martin says.
Labor MPs look into marriage
Five Victorian state Labor MPs have taken it upon themselves to gauge public opinion on marriage equality in response to what they view as a lack of consultation on the issue federally.
Media: Australia, Gay/Lesbian - Australia
Surrogacy in Queensland a legal minefield, say lawyers
Harrington Family Lawyers' Stephen Page said he had been inundated with dozens of inquiries since altruistic surrogacy where the birth mother receives no payment became legal in Queensland last year.
The Dibb family united
After an agonising wait, four-year-old Amenty Dibb is finally home with the family that fought for him. The bright and energetic youngster has been at the centre of a complicated adoption battle for the past three years.
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