We would like to thank our friend Mr Phil Thompson for reminding us of the evolving narrative on forced adoption, with the most recent development being an open apology by Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gilliard on the forced adoptions which took place in Australia during the 1950s to the 1970s. Children in this era of forced adoption were being taken from mothers, simply because they were either unwed or very young and unmarried.
Australia has always been something of a leading light in Family Law. Here in the UK, we look to their progressive efforts and their often thoughtful, honest and incisive analysis of the implementation of those policies and processes, so it comes as no surprise that they are currently looking at the issue of forced adoption and considering whether this practice is in fact ethical.
Forced adoption is a term usually used to refer to a situation where a parent or parents have their children forcibly removed without their consent. And whilst today the reasons for doing this do not include looking at the mother and father to see if they are married, they do include looking to see whether or not those parents can care for that child.
In many respects, the desire to place children in a safe environment where necessary and using means which appear ethically dubious would be met by most of us with empathy, but it raises several interesting questions about whether or not the State has a right to do so, how we measure fitness to care for a child and the obvious and poignant gaps in our understanding of psychology, science and parenting.
Not all countries employ forced adoption practices; the UK is in the minority here. But does that necessarily mean the practice is always wrong?
If you go on to YouTube, there are quite a few videos, mostly from the Antipodean side of the planet, which show cabinet ministers and PMs apologising for the nature of past forced adoptions. How many more years before we look back on the current practice and feel the need to do the same?
This is an important area that often gets overlooked by government, as it tends to get swallowed up in resource debates and talking about the paramountcy principle, the welfare of the child being paramount, takes us into murky water. Can the State, in its current state, really measure that welfare or are we asking a woefully unsophisticated machine to make hugely sophisticated choices?
And from a purely legal standpoint, is it even sound practice to remove someone’s child without the parents’ consent? Does there need to be some kind of mediation process in the middle and if so, what could we do to ensure the safety of children at risk where parents, often through no fault of their own, are unable to see they are a danger to their child? The question of what constitutes a danger too, is a slippery slope.
So, we hand the reins over to you, lovely readers of the blog, and ask you, what do you think – is forced adoption, in its current guise, legal?