Children
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Article
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Politics

The overseas adoption option

The heart-rending story of baby Gammy has captured the attention of Australia, and of the world. While commercial surrogacy in Thailand is not approved of, it’s also not illegal, though the case of baby Gammy, which has recently exploded across global media, could change that.

At significant risk, Gammy’s Thai surrogate mother, Pattharamon Janbua, has reported that Gammy’s Australian biological parents, the Farnells, took home his healthy twin sister and abandoned their disabled, now eight-month-old son. Gammy has Down syndrome, a congenital heart condition, and recently developed a life-threatening lung infection. Now it has been revealed that Mr Farnell has a history of multiple convictions for child sex offences; child protection authorities are currently assessing his suitability to parent Gammy’s sister.

Gammy’s story highlights several areas of human rights concern, including commodification and trafficking of children in the baby market created by demand from well-off westerners; exploitation of vulnerable young women and their children; and denial of children’s rights to have information about or ongoing contact with their surrogate or biological parents and siblings.

Sadly, such concerns are inevitable in situations where ethically dubious practices are not expressly prohibited, monitored and regulated. This is particularly (though not exclusively) the case in developing countries where conditions are ripe for unscrupulous people seeking to profit by exploiting those living in poverty.

Such concerns are also variously associated with overseas commercial anonymous donor IVF and intercountry adoption. These practices have been popularised through mainstream Australian media, whereby an endless parade of physically and socially infertile women and men are portrayed as desperate to become loving parents, or overjoyed by achieving parenthood after harrowing journeys.

Despite a litany of overseas child abduction, child trafficking and ‘voluntourism’ cases in recent years, journalists rarely equate such exploitation and human rights violations with the overseas adoption and surrogacy practices they promote in their human-interest stories.

I empathise with infertile people, irrespective of gender orientation or marital status, not least because I experienced fertility problems myself. But as a social worker and an adoptee, I empathise considerably more with the children: they have no choice regarding the circumstances of their conceptions or adoptions, and will likely suffer the detrimental psychological impacts of being separated from their families of origin or surrogacy for their entire lives.

Australians cannot legitimately claim ignorance regarding these matters. In Australia, it is illegal for money to be exchanged to procure a child for adoption; to pay for an ovum, sperm or embryo for the purposes of creating a child; or to engage a surrogate to conceive a child.

Moreover, altruistic surrogacy and donor IVF are both legal and carefully regulated. The state- and territory-based local and intercountry adoption programs are regulated within the best practice framework of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children & Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, to which Australia has been party since 1998.

It is illegal to privately arrange an adoption in Australia. In some Australian states, it is also illegal for citizens to travel to another country to engage in commercial surrogacy. But it is legal for Australians to adopt a child when living overseas, thus enabling Australians to bypass the strict regulation associated with Australia’s domestic adoption laws. As a result, the number of expatriate adoptions now exceeds that of domestically arranged intercountry adoptions.

It is almost as though Australians have already forgotten the recent state, territory and national apologies for the unethical and damaging practices of coerced separation of children from their families of origin through past assimilation, adoption and child-migration policies. Certainly, Tony Abbott appears to have forgotten his own comments made as Opposition Leader in response to the bipartisan national apology made in March 2013 by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to those affected by forced adoptions in Australia, about which he acknowledged he still had things to learn. Then in December 2013, as a new prime minister, Abbott made the surprise announcement of his intention to make it much easier and faster for Australians to adopt children from overseas.

Intercountry adoption in Australia has always been intended as a last resort – a family placement program for vulnerable children from less affluent countries. It was never meant to be a family formation service for well-off Australians. Significant delays now experienced in processing applications in these countries are not because of excessive bureaucratic ‘red tape’ or an ‘anti-adoption’ culture among social workers delivering the program; rather, it’s because countries of origin are identifying fewer children needing adoption due to improvements in their domestic child support and alternative-care programs. Consequently, there is a significant mismatch between the children sought by Australians – usually, healthy infants – and those identified by countries of origin as requiring overseas adoption – mainly older children or those with additional developmental, physical or psychological needs, like Gammy.

We need laws prohibiting Australians from engaging in commercial surrogacy overseas and commercial donor IVF, just we have domestically. And we should oppose Mr Abbott’s intercountry adoption ‘reform’, which will open up expatriate adoption in countries not subject to the safeguards of the Hague Convention – including the proposed amendment to the Australian Citizenship Act regarding intercountry adoption, which is currently before parliament.

As a social worker in Victoria’s intercountry adoption program for 11 years, I am more aware than most how difficult it is to ensure the best interests of children in countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention, let alone in non-party countries.

Gammy’s story poignantly exemplifies the case against overseas commercial surrogacy. It also represents a watershed test for Tony Abbott’s leadership. Will he choose to strengthen and unify Australia’s commercial surrogacy laws to also protect the rights of vulnerable women and children, like Pattharamon Janbua and Gammy? Will he acknowledge the parallel concerns with overseas commercial donor IVF and expatriate intercountry adoption practices? Or will he stubbornly continue pursuing the pro-adoption agenda, thus enshrining the desires and interests of prospective Australian parents as entitlements?

And importantly, will he take responsibility for the new generations of Australians psychologically damaged from the institutionalised violation of their human rights?

 

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Comments

  1. Many thanks for giving priority to the best interests/human rights of adopted and donor conceived persons.
    In the same way that adoption was ‘normalised’ throughout the 20C, causing lifelong anguish to many, so we are repeating history by imposing the same losses onto a new generation.

  2. Excellent article Penny. I hope poor Gammy’s sad situation will result in much needed reform in protecting the wellbeing of vulnerable children and the human rights of the surrogates. Will we ever learn?

  3. Wonderful article thank you. What really gets to me is the absolute ignorance of the current Prime Minister. I now know without a doubt that Tony Abbott knew not one thing about the lessons of adoption when he address all those people at the National Apology for past forced adoption practices. If he had done any research on the matter he would not have bent over backwards to accomodate the push for inter-country adoptions. It is so depressing to know that the leader of this country is so ignorantly informed (when there is so much evidence) and that children and mother’s right will not get in his way of being popular among the in crowd.

  4. At last! An article that encapsulates what we as InterCountry adoptees have been saying for years! When will Australia wake up?! Good on you Penny for raising these not so popular or altruistic concerns we legitimately have!

  5. Wow – never thought I’d see the day when i would(a) agree with a social worker & (b) agree with an adoptee & (c) agree with someone who is both.
    Well done Penny for being a social worker willing to open their eyes to the true fallout from their practices and also being an adoptee who is willing to recognise adoption as the damaging institution, that it is.

    • Hi Cameron, I’ve never been an advocate of adoption. As a social worker, I was always a pragmatist, believing that where it needed to happen, then it should be done well. In recent years I have come to realise that, regardless of how well done, adoption doesn’t need to happen at all; that there are a range of other better options which should be pursued in the interests of both the child and their parent(s)/family of origin. I am genuinely disturbed at how successful the celebrity pro-adoption lobbyists have been in this country and how quickly adoption, donor IVF and surrogacy have come to be considered as rights for middle-class Australians seeking to form their families, regardless of the rights and best interest of the children, in particular. I feel obliged as an adoptee and as a social worker to now advocate for those being exploited by such practices. I consider my position to be ‘pro-child’.

      • Oh for goodness sakes – sometimes adoption does need to happen and saying lengthy delays have nothing to do with social workers like yourself is rot. So much is done in certain states to destroy families attempting to adopt. Yes do all you can to be sure every option is available to children staying in their family. In saying that it is naive and idealistic to think that that is always going to be the best option for a child or even that the biological parents are willing to raise the child. Your argument is one dimensional and fails to take into consideration the reality of so many of the children.

        • Here Here!
          Very one sided and sweepingly unrealistic statements.
          Unfortunately children are relinquished BY CHOICE every single day all over the world.
          THOSE children deserve to know the love and security of a family.

          • I am saddened, Natalie, that you consider poverty to be a choice.
            However, I understand the need for parents who have adopted children from overseas to feel this was the best or only choice for their children – in order to rationalise their own choice to adopt the child.
            Indeed, every child has the right to have the love and security of their family of origin where possible and, where not possible, that of a suitable family in their country of origin (and there are plenty of good examples of such programs in operation) or, if this is not possible, then of a suitable family overseas.
            It is a fact that while western countries continue to pursue intercountry adoption programs, developing countries will be less inclined to pursue family preservation and alternative family programs for their own vulnerable children.

  6. I think it is really unjust to compare this overseas surrogacy cases with inter country adoption.
    the two processes have nothing in common and as a person in the process of adopting internationally I can tell you I am NO advocate for surrogacy of any kind and find the case of baby Gammy awful and shocking.
    But intercountry adoption is a rigorous process. We our state department has only approved us to adopt after: police checks, reference checks, 3 social worker visits to our house, financial checks and medical checks. These were renewed after our wait (to be matched with our child) exceeded 3 years – all parts had to be renewed.
    My understanding is that couples, like baby Gammy’s “father’ have had NO checks – NONE of the rigour that the intercountry adoption process requires.
    He would never have passed the police check stage, to say the least.
    Also, this couple exchanged money with an agency that gave the money directly to Baby Gammy’s mother (after taking their own fee).
    Intercountry adoption via Hague countries – of which Thailand IS one. forbids payments to birth mothers for their children. ie: NO baby buying!
    Any fees paid by couples in intercountry adoption in Australia are to our Australian departments, the department of immigration and some to the Thai department of social welfare.
    These processes are hardly comparable in the way that your article has done so casually.

  7. To “Anonymous, 17/08/2014, 8.25pm” and “deeply hurt, 17/082014, 7.58pm: adoption rarely, if ever, needs to happen – where genuine consideration and resourcing has been given to pursuing other, more child-focussed, options. The problem I am highlighting is that the community, in general, does not recognise/understand the parallels between adoption, surrogacy and donor IVF. I am far from “naïve”, “idealistic”, “one-dimensional” or “casual” in my consideration of the very complex and emotive issues involved and, thus, I do not hide behind anonymity to assert my thoroughly researched case.

    • You do not need to hide behind anonymity. Adoptive families do have to because social workers like yourself, who clearly state that adoption does not need to happen, are the ones deciding if we can adopt or not. Genuine consideration and resourcing are offered to biological parents and they STILL choose not to parent their child. Some parents neglect their children outside poverty. I reiterate there is a need for adoption.

      • Anonymous, I’m not clear whether you are referring to local adoption via the child protection pathway, or overseas adoption of children in orphanages where they have been placed primarily due to poverty. Having worked in child protection before I worked in intercountry adoption, I know from direct experience that very few people indeed ‘choose’ to relinquish their children, even where they are unable to care for them adequately, for whatever reasons.
        Also, the social workers employed in adoption are professionals who work within the legislation and parameters of their role. The primary client in adoption is the adoptive child. Unfortunately, pro-adoption advocates seem to believe that the primary client should be the prospective/adoptive parents, and this is why they often misconstrue the social workers as being ‘anti-adoption’.
        Please note that I no longer work in intercountry adoption; hence, I am free to speak publicly about it, as are pro-adoption advocates.

  8. Jenny, the parallel that you have drawn between baby Gammy’s illegal case and legal intercountry adoption in Australia is highly disturbing to anyone who understands how intercountry adoption is undertaken in Australia. You cannot legitimately claim ignorance regarding these matters.

  9. Karen, I assume you are referring to me. I was not drawing a parallel between Gammy’s case and the domestically provided intercountry adoption programs in Australia, rather between Gammy’s case and expatriate intercountry adoptions by Australians living overseas – which the Australian government is currently trying to open up as a far less regulated (effectively unregulated) pathway. I am well informed regarding these matters – as noted in my article, Australia’s domestically provided intercountry adoption programs are highly regulated in accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. I am highly disturbed that the fake orphan and voluntourism industries continue to flourish in developing countries which are signatory to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (including Thailand and India), so I am even more disturbed regarding the likely extent of child trafficking and exploitation activities in countries not signatory to the Hague Convention (like Cambodia).

  10. A very one sided , one eyed view but to be expected if one knows the people who work in ICA VIC. The article is meant to be about surrogacy & should stick to that. IVF & intercountry adoptions are different issues & have strict, ethical controls. Families DO NOT enter into these situations lightly .Unfortunately most people do not know the deep, fuller intercountry adoption picture & while entitled to their opinions they should be just that & should not make bold definitive statements. While I abhor the celebrity razzle that is going on I know it is not representative at all of the Australian adoption community & many, many families cringe at every glitzy, shallow article they read. While ICA is a last choice it is often the only chance many children have of finding families, especially children with special needs. Many of these children are rejected by their own cultures. Many have easily treatable conditions & are left to wallow in non western countries. It’s a pity anti adoption advocates don’t have a clue that local vs intercoutry adoption are 2 totally different issues… Somehow surrogacy & adoption have been intertwined which is ridiculous if you know the depths of both issues…of which I & many others do. While surrogacy needs to be looked into, this anti adoption garbage is just that…The thousands of individual statements provided to the proposed Abbott reform is testimony to the shambles Australia’s system is in & the ethics of many (not all) of the social workers is deplorable.

    • Tessa, can I assume that you are the adoptive mother of an intercountry child with special needs? Unfortunately, there are not enough such adoptive parents – most seek to adopt healthy infants.
      You stated that “most people do not know the deep, fuller intercountry adoption picture” and I certainly agree with you on that. But I maintain there are clear parallels between intercountry adoption, commercial surrogacy and donor IVF.
      Pro-adoption advocates may wish to treat intercounry adoption as different/special and endeavour to discredit the social workers in the field, but this does not make my arguments less true.

  11. Penny – although I agree with most of your comments re surrogacy I fail to see the connection to the proposed reform of intercountry adoptions services in Australia.
    You might want to revisit the House of Reps report that was most critical of State Welfare Departments and their anti adoption culture.
    You might also consider doing some homework re intercountry adoptions and get your facts right.
    1) Cambodia is a Hague signatory
    2) Nothing in the reform proposed by the PM is looking at addressing expat adoptions.

    If you feel so strongly about (against)adoption – why are you working in this field?

    Recent reports on child protection in VIC strongly demonstrate how VIC is failing the children in their care. Maybe as a “pro-child” advocate you should concentrate your efforts on advocating for kids in care in VIC. May I suggest that you read some of Jeremy Sammut’s work on local adoptions.

    • Ricky, as I noted above, many people fall into the trap of interpreting the perspective of social workers as being ‘anti-adoption’ because, for the social workers, the adoptive child is the primary client, rather than the adoptive parents. I don’t think it is particularly helpful to polarise the discussion as pro-or anti-, but this is the language I have observed that pro-adoption campaigners have long used.
      There is, indeed, a difference between being signatory to the Hague Convention and ratifying it – I should have made this clearer. Cambodia is not yet in a position to ratify the Hague Convention – meaning that it does not yet have adequate infrastructure in place to approve/accredit agencies for adoption; to ensure that children are legitimately available for adoption and have not been procured via unethical/illegal means; etc.
      It is a fact that an amendment to the Australian Citizenship Act (Intercountry Adoption) initiated by the Abbott government is being considered by parliament at the present time.
      I resigned from ICAS last year because I have progressively, over the years, come to my current position.
      Thank you for the free advice – I had no idea you took such an interest in my career.

      • It’s encouraging to hear that you no longer work in ICAS – somewhat misleading in the article.

        Correction 1 – the Hague came into effect in Cambodia in 2007
        Correction 2 – the amendment to the Australian Citizenship Act has nothing to do with expat adoptions.

        The “anti adoption culture” within state welfare departments was identified by the House of Reps sub committee- headed by Ms Bronwyn Bishop. This description did not come from pro adoption advocates.

        • Ricky, I think we are arguing semantics over the meaning of ‘ratification’. Cambodia acceded to The Hague Convention in 2007; it introduced new ICA laws in 2009; but as far as I am aware Cambodia continues to receive assistance to implement the necessary reforms to fully implement those laws and thus to fully implement (ie. ratify) the requirements of The Hague Convention.
          The proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act is ALL about expat intercountry adoptions.
          Bronwyn Bishop is a pro-adoption campaigner herself, and the Inquiry she headed up was one of the most scandalous exercises in social work bashing I have ever seen. Ms Bishop was convinced before she commenced her Inquiry that she would find an ‘anti- adoption’ culture and so, of course, it was self-fulfilling.

          • THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE CITIZENSHIP ACT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EXPAT ADOPTIONS !!!! YOU REALLY NEED TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK !!!

          • Bronwyn Bishop had nothing to do with adoptions prior to the inquiry.
            She was one of a number of politicians who formed the House of Reps subcommittee.
            They conducted public hearings around the country with adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents as well as departmental staff – probably the most extensive inquiry ever conducted in Australia.

          • Cambodia – countries can either sign – demonstrating an intention to Ratify or Accede and or Ratify / or Accede
            Once you Ratify or Accede – the convention can come into force.
            Cambodia has acceded to the convention and it’s been in force since 2007
            That does not mean that they have to have an adoption program in place

            Your comment above is therefor wrong and misleading
            “exploitation activities in countries not signatory to the Hague Convention (like Cambodia)”

  12. As a mother of an adopted son from overseas, I am always interested in others opinions of Intercountry Adoption, and this article is purely just that-a one sided opinion.
    Overseas adoption would never be an option for me (and I’m sure for most Australians) if a child’s human rights were violated in any possible way. The reality is, children are abandoned and children are given up for adoption by choice.
    Your statement that all adopted children are likely to suffer “detrimental psychological impacts of being adopted” is an opinion – the adoptees I know are of safe mind so perhaps you are speaking from your own personal experiences?
    I never considered myself a “well off Australian” and I know of couples who have borrowed money from family etc to adopt their child(ren) so assuming only wealthy Australians adopt a child is in fact incorrect.
    I liaise with a friend in Finland who works for an adoption agency there and I can assure you that bureaucratic tape does impact the speed of intercountry adoption. We have been waiting for allocation for twice as long as people in other countries.
    Another point you mention is that “intercountry adoption was never meant to be a family formation service for well-off Australians”. Actually, I have met a couple of families who had their own biological children and adopted as well so I don’t see how adoption provides this “service”?
    Finally, I don’t think its fair to compare intercountry adoption with surrogacy, and in particular with “Gammy”. My husband and I are not pedophiles and we have always spoken the truth. To be honest, the unfortunate story of “Gammy” has cemented once again our decision to adopt a child from overseas as the best decision we have ever, and will probably, ever make in our lives.

  13. Penny. Nup, your assumption about me is incorrect. My husband & I have been lied to & messed around by our state dept as we have been trying to adopt a child with special needs but have been fed a heap of BS. Through adoption support groups we are in we are aware there are numerous people in the same boat as us all around Australia. I have worked with special needs children for a long time & know the realities & also know that the good far outweighs the bad… Australian authorities needs to open their eyes & minds & be pro active in the area of special needs. We know several adoptive families with children in this category & their issues are in a wide range but ALL are manageable & the wisdom, strength & often fantastic personalities of these children is awe inspiring.

    The only clear link between IVF, surrogacy & adoption is that they are not the stereotypical way that many families are formed. It is irresponsible from someone in your work position to state categorically something that is purely your opinion. I respect your right to an opinion but it is just that & not one that everyone agrees with.

    • I would not expect pro-adoption advocates to agree with my perspective – they are usually very committed to their own perspective.
      In my experience, ICA applicants &/or parents who criticise ICA service providers often do so when they are not getting what they seek in the timeframe they want.
      As Ricky alluded to, there are also many special needs children requiring permanent alternative families locally.
      Of course, not everyone seeking to adopt a child is necessarily suitable to do so, irrespective of the strength of their genuine desire to do so.

      • Your assumptions are wrong again….Time or ease was never a factor for us. A lot of contradictory information has been dispersed by depts & I know we are not the only family on the receiving end. I also know we are highly suitable & have met some families ( who’s criteria would normally rule them out) who are chummy with dept staff who have breezed through. Also didn’t see Ricky allude to anything regarding special needs???

        I am also not a pro adoption advocate. I think every person & child’s situations need to be considered individually. I truly put the child first…

        My mother was adopted & I grew up knowing a lot of adult & child adoptees ( sorry, but they weren’t traumatised). We are objective & not to be categorised.

      • Please stop assuming. I am not an adoption advocate. Just one of the families who has been told contradictory messages via the department. We were NOT rejected. We have been told, amongst other things, there is no interest in adoption therefore no more information sessions are planned, as well as there are no more information sessions planned due to the Abbott review. Both are incorrect as the Attorney Generals told us that depts are meant to be planning future sessions until otherwise notified.

        Cant see where Ricky alluded to anything re special needs adoptions? This is an area dept staff are seriously misrepresenting to applicants though. We know quite a few families with children with special needs adopted from 3 different countries. The realities of these children’s conditions varies dramatically from what we have discussed with our dept.

        Yes, not everyone is suitable to adopt but they need to be presented the full truth & not just worse case scenarios & horror stories. We believe that not every abandoned child should be put forward for international adoption . The best interest of the child & not the bias of govt employees HAS to be taken into account. Each family should be reviewed without bias & each child should be treated as an individual & not a statistic. So many people are being stuffed around by dept staff. We have only been on our attempted journey a short time in comparison to many . We have spoken to families with hands on experience & others with decades of in depth knowledge on the situation. many families don’t have that luxury & take what depts say at face value & that’s just sad for the children needing their forever families.

        You don’t know us or our situation so please stop judging & making incorrect assumptions.

  14. I think enough people have pointed out that this story is very 1 sided & too close a correlation between surrogacy & adoption has been made. I want to chime in on the special needs adoption issue. Special Needs Adoption Australia held 4 professional & objective national surveys that were presented to the Abbott govt. It is hoped that the 1,100+ individual comments from people who have adopted or are wanting to adopt children classified as special needs are looked at to give a true representation of the status of special needs adoption in the adoptive & prospective adoptive community as part of the proposed adoption reform . There is genuine informed interest in all states of Australia from people wanting to adopt via this avenue. We are not talking thousands of families but there are enough families in every state to more than justify bringing children who will otherwise be left languishing & neglected in situations into Australian families. Copies of the surveys were distributed to all state depts & the Attorney Generals Dept .

    In the over 12 years it took me to adopt I came across many anti adoption social workers ( in 2 states) as well as some who were just out & out bullies & fabricated all sorts of mistruths. Thankfully I also came across 2 social workers who were open, fair & a pleasure to deal with & actually did their job without prejudice & gave support.

    • Deborah, I do not underestimate the capacity of you and your fellow pro- adoption lobbyists to generate popular support for adopting children with special needs from overseas, though I do wonder why the focus on adopting such children rather than providing permanent care to local children with similar needs.
      As I have said before, not everyone seeking to adopt a child from overseas, especially one with additional special needs, is necessarily suitable to do so. This can be very difficult for some applicants to hear or accept.

      • Please don’t ever assume with me. Some people really do have the wrong end of the stick with their false assumptions with me. If they learnt to communicate they’d see I’m one of the good guys.
        FYI: Special Needs Adoption Australia also includes Australia foster & adopted children with special needs as per the groups description summary. I include every child from everywhere.The support these families receive from other families with hands on experience is excellent.

        Some families I have guided have decided special needs or adoption altogether is not right for them & thats’ fine. I DO NOT advocate to families. It is a personal decision only they can make. I give families the facts ( which can be very confronting to some) & not a biased one eyed opinion. Every case is different…there is no One Rule Fits all in this area.

  15. Haido, I refer you to my previous posts that poverty is not a choice.
    I’m surprised and saddened – given your status as an intercountry adoptive parent – that you are not aware of the extensive research that informed the several state and federal apologies (from 2008 – 2013) to people affected by past policies and practices of forced/closed adoption in Australia; nor of the similarities between those practices and some institutionalised practices that have persisted in some countries like South Korea and the Philippines, and some unethical/illicit practices that flourish in most developing countries. There are several cases in recent years of adoptions of children from India by Australians through the domestic intercountry adoption program that were discovered years later to have not been legitimate, as it was found the children had been procured illegally in India.
    I’m not clear what you mean by “safe mind”, but I suspect that your experience with adoptees is significantly more limited than mine. I am speaking from extensive professional, as well as personal experience in the adoption field.
    I use the term “well off” as a relative term of affluence, particularly comparing Australian/western families to families in developing countries.
    I use the term “family formation” to include having a child or adding a child to one’s family, regardless of method. Of course, people who adopt children make a conscious choice to do so, and it is good to hear that you and your husband continue to be very happy with your choice.
    However, the complexities of adoption mean that your adopted son will be a child for only the early part of his life; he will be an adult for most of it and, as he matures and develops, it is very likely that there will be some aspects of his adoption that he will not be as happy about as you are – despite that he may well always appear to be “of safe mind”.

  16. I am a mother of an adopted child from another country and I agree with penny. There is a big part of me that feels guilty for having adopted my son. He was relinquished because he was the last of 10 children, no father, poor mother. She didn’t choose to give him up,- her circumstances forced her to. But I got what I wanted! a child. Of course he was lucky now that he has me but the motivating factor was me wanting to have a child. If my priorities weren’t looking after ME firstly, but rather helping a child, imagine what the money and resources that it is costing me to raise one child, could do to support the family and community that my son came from. If we all did this……..

  17. As someone who is (happily) adopted i would like to inform you that
    I find your article very offensive and I’m deeply concerned you are a social worker in the area of adoption. You shouldn’t be biased in your role. Judging by your article I’m suspecting your unable to do this.
    I understand you may have your own issues from your past however it’s important these don’t cloud your judgement and affect your role.

    To those currently in the journey of adoption- don’t let biased opinions distract you from facts figures and your own common sense.

  18. On a final note , please do not assume that I am not aware of past forced adoptions and illegitimate adoptions – I’m not naive as you seem to be alluding to. I still cannot comprehend any connection that Gammy / surrogacy has with inter country adoption and I was pleased to hear that you no longer work in this field.

  19. Thank you, Ricky, for your additional posts on the evening of 19/8/14:
    – Indeed, it is easy to be misled by the apparently innocuous nature of the proposed Citizenship Act Amendment (Intercountry Adoption) Bill 2014. From my perspective, there is clear potential for this legislation, if passed, to facilitate expatriate Australian adoptions in countries outside the safeguards of the Hague Convention in the future.
    – From the perspective of adoptees and mothers/families of origin, the most significant national inquiry conducted in Australia regarding adoption was the Senate Committee Inquiry regarding Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices. The report from this inquiry (February 2012) confirmed that considerable pain and suffering had been experienced by the mothers coerced into relinquishing their children, and by the children separated from their mothers for adoption, throughout their lives. The inquiry subsequently led to the national bipartisan apology to the many thousands of people affected by past policies and practices of forced/closed adoption in Australia by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in March 2013. The Senate inquiry received similar evidence regarding intercountry adoptions, but its report acknowledged that addressing intercountry adoption was beyond the scope of its terms of reference.
    – I had no intention to mislead and believe I have already acknowledged that it would have been more technically precise if I had used the term ‘not ratified’ rather than ‘not signatory’ to the Hague Convention in relation to Cambodia. My point remains valid, however, that Cambodia is not in a position to establish an accredited/reputable intercountry adoption program because it continues to be unable to fully ratify the Hague Convention (which it indicated its intention to do by signing in 2007). Even mainstream Australian media – which is pro-intercountry adoption and pro-commercial surrogacy – continues to report on the ongoing problems in Cambodia with corruption, human trafficking, fake orphans and volunteer tourism.

  20. I am a mother of an adopted child from another country and I agree with penny. There is a big part of me that feels guilty for having adopted my son. He was relinquished because he was the last of 10 children, no father, poor mother. She didn’t choose to give him up,- her circumstances forced her to. But I got what I wanted! a child. Of course he was lucky now that he has me and I feel blessed but the motivating factor was me wanting to have a child. If my priorities weren’t looking after ME firstly, but rather helping a child, imagine what the money and resources that it is costing me to raise one child, could do to support the family and community that my son came from. If we all did this……..

  21. Wow! I’m amazed at the responses .. Obviously hit a raw nerve! I applaud u Penny for giving ur professional opinion, knowing what kind of response it will draw from some. As an ICA adoptee, I totally see the parallels and do believe we need more open and critical discussions in our society on these issues. I think we get into trouble when people stop listening to the valid points from other’s perspectives … We don’t have to agree with everything but it is worthwhile being respectful of other’s opinions.

  22. Penny, I came accross you when I was being assessed as an intercountry adopted parent, some years ago now. I therefor listened intently to your interview on abc radio with regards to your book on anti adoption. Wow. An ex social worker from Intercountry Adoption, an adopted person herself, against adoption. I can understand some of your arguments and you make some very valid points. It is very unusual though that a person who is anti adoption would choose to work in Intercountry Adoption. I was unfortunate enough to receive the anger that appeared to be your cognitive dissonance.
    My personal experience with you is that you were aggressive, hostile and nasty, not to mention unhinged. You are not fit to write such a book because you are clearly affected by your adoption experience in a very confronting manner. I know lots of intercountry adopted adults that do not behave as you do. You are living out your pain and making others lives a misery in the meantime.

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