Special Parents For Special Children

16 November 2012

I’m sure there are many of you who think I shouldn’t be writing this.  I’m childfree, by choice, and I’ve never had anything vaguely resembling a maternal urge.  But I really don’t hate children – there have been many small children in my life who have known I’ve loved them dearly.  I just didn’t want any of my own. 

I do appreciate though that there are many people who feel that their lives are not complete without a child.  There are people who go to quite extraordinary lengths to have a child.  And as long as those children are loved and cared for, that’s fine by me.

But if I hear one more programme or read one more article about how overseas adoptions should be made easier, I’ll scream.

For the last 40 years or so, adoption has been a long and gruelling process.  I know it seems unfair that practically any woman can give birth without any assessment of her ability to care for a child but do we really want to go back to the days when children were just placed with anyone who’d have them? 

In the 1920’s my grandfather went to the funeral of a distant relative and came home with a little girl.  She’d just buried the last of her parents and as my grandparents had only one child, a girl (my mother), he thought it was his responsibility to care for her.  My grandparents were a kind and loving couple and I’m sure this girl was well-loved, but that was just good luck on her part.   In the Second World War, English children from the cities were sent to country areas away from the bombing.  Often they were lined up in the village hall and local people who had any spare space in their houses were obliged to pick a child and take her home.  There are some horrendous stories about what happened to some of these children.

We don’t just hand children out any more.  We want to know where they’re going.  And if that’s what we do for domestic adoptions, then that’s what we must do for international ones.  I KNOW that some of these children are living in dire conditions but that doesn’t mean that their welfare should be any less important to us than that of Australian-bred children.

We hear cases of children whose background is covered up – they haven’t always been put up for adoption for a start, but have been bought.  There are children with huge psychological problems which may never be cured (as was found with the large number of Romanian babies adopted by the British in the 1990’s).  These problems don’t just go away with a lot of love and cuddles.

We need special parents, highly-vetted, not just the first person to put her hand up.    


  1. I agree. As a relinquishing grandmother, I have only ever wanted the best for my granddaughter. Knowing that she has been loved and cared for by amazing parents goes a long way to ease the pain of the loss of a much loved grandchild. The only justification for adoption is to give the child a much better, safer and more enriched life.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Sue. I hadn’t thought of it from the point of view of family members of the adopted child but it obviously helps you to know that your granddaughter is being cared for by the best possible people that the State could find.

      I’ll write another post shortly about friends of mine who were adopted in the “good old days”.

  2. Hi Sally,

    I totally agree with keeping adoption rules strict. Your note hits so many sensitive points. And I think that anyone who adopts needs to be a special parent. A close friend of mine adopted from Romania in the 90’s and they have had an uphill climb ever since. The little girl is doing well, but still has the scares of not having any affection the first year of her life. I never would have realized how an infant can be affected that way. But then again, I was very loved and all the children I’ve known have been very loved. I have no children of my own, (not by choice) but I do have 2 adult stepdaughters from my husband. And we are very close. But even better, I have 2 beautiful grandsons who I get to spend time with. The horror stories of bad adoptions and fostering are excerpts from the news for me, but hit home enough to know that caring for any child takes a special person and not just anyone who can buy a baby.

  3. I agree that prospective parents should be thoroughly assessed before being able to enter into an adoption program. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, from personal experience, that is not the issue re the difficulty surrounding overseas adoptions.

    Rather, the issue is that it is extremely difficult (not to mention expensive -$20,000 or more) to actually adopt a child, even though we know there are many hundreds of children needing a loving home. Despite this, it appears that fewer than 100 children are adopted from o/s each year (in Australia). There are many many cultural issues with overseas adoptions as well, which are an added level of complexity.

  4. There are stories here (UK) about families that have gone through the process and have essentially being lied to to encourage adoption. It’s heartbreaking to see that people are pretty much abandoned and left to cope with children who need special help. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/31/adoption-why-system-ruining-lives

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