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A STOLEN GENERATION IN THE MAKING
Dr. Christine A. Cole ©
The following is the first in a 10 part series I authored in response to the grave injustice I see reoccurring to thousands of unwed mothers and disadvantaged parents across Australia. I am disgusted that not even 12 months has gone by since Prime Minister Julia Gillard issued her deeply felt and dignified apology on behalf of the Australian Government and its people to the 250,000 babies, their parents and families for brutally tearing them apart under a phenomenon labelled Forced Adoption. One can only wonder how genuine were the apologies issued to the Stolen Generations, Forgotten Australians, Child Migrants and the survivors of illegal Forced Adoption if the very same practices, policies and legislation that underpinned all the previous stolen generations are being replicated. Shame on the perpetrators of this new stolen generation – you can not hide behind ignorance, history will remember you for the evil you are now perpetrating.
You are witnessing the birth of a new stolen generation. One that covers the gamut: Indigenous and white parents who are poor; disadvantaged; young; suffer domestic violence; have intellectual disabilities and/or struggle with mental health problems which includes drug dependence. They are all targets for the NSW government’s latest Forced Adoption policy.
According to Brian Robins in an article titled: ‘Surge in infants taken from mothers after DOCS crackdown’, the number of newborn babies taken by the Department of Community Services had risen sharply in the past two years: “Each day in NSW an infant younger than four weeks old will be removed from the mother”. This is a rise of 70% in two years. Prue Goward is quoted as stating: “They are removing children as soon as possible … before they are too damaged.’” But the question Robins poses is: “Are they simply creating another stolen generation?”
I would like to bring to your attention the NSW Child Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 introduced on motion for its Second Reading on November 21, 2013, by the NSW Minister for Community and Family Affairs, Pru Goward. I am very concerned, as are many others, that the proposed child protection amendments along with already implemented legislative changes will further violate the rights of certain disadvantaged groups. We are already witnessing the birth of another stolen generation and if this Bill gets passed into law it will further entrench and extend these violations. As a Survivor of past Forced Adoption, and the Convenor of the Apology Alliance of Australia, I am making a formal complaint against the NSW and Australian Governments with respect to the discriminatory and inhumane legislation and policies that are underpinning this new stolen generation. I urge the Commission to intervene and not only stop this Bill from becoming law, but that the previous legislation and policy enacted be repealed. We were promised by both the Federal and New South Wales State Governments when they issued their apologies that the abuse and human rights violations perpetrated on us to obtain our newborns would never be repeated and never again would families be brutally torn apart. By introducing laws and policies that underpin forced removal of newborns and children of new categories of parents designated “unfit” they are violating their promises and the original state violence for which they apologised continues. This I contend makes the Federal and the NSW Governments’ accountable for violating our rights under several treaties including the Convention Against Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).
I understand that International and domestic law was implemented to protect the civil and human rights of minority and/or disadvantaged groups. Unfortunately there are a number of such groups, as well as the one I represent, whose human and civil rights are being violated. These groups are comprised of individuals who are poor, young, experience mental health problems such as substance dependence; suffer domestic violence and those who have an intellectual disability. They include Aboriginal and White Australians. I would urge the Human Rights Commission to lodge an action on their behalf against the NSW and Australian governments for introducing policy and legislation around Australia that breaches both International and Domestic treaties by opportunistically targeting these groups for forced removal of their newborns and children for the purpose of adoption. To forcibly remove a newborn from its mother is an act of torture. To monitor a woman during her pregnancy with the intent to remove her infant at the birth constitutes inhumane and degrading treatment and causes mental health damage to both. To remove a newborn from its mother constitutes inhumane treatment of, and causes, the infant irreparable mental and physical damage, not the least being Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not to allow an infant to grow up within its own family and further to disallow contact between family members violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Art. 7 and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): Art 7. A woman suffering mental health problems and or substance dependence is part of a group identified as vulnerable and in need of specialised support services for which the Australia government is obligated to provide. Adequate rehabilitation services are required, NOT punishment by threatening to remove or actual removal of their newborn. The Australian government is aware, if not it should be, that substance dependence is a mental health issue and should be treated through a public health approach not a judicial one.
Drug dependency is a chronic relapsing mental health condition recognised as such by the International Classification of diseases (ICD-10) of the World Health Organisation and the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM-IV) of Metal Disorders of the American Psychiatric association.
Under the UDHR, Art 7, individuals who suffer from a mental health condition should have the right to freedom from discrimination. Policies implemented by State parties must promote individual health, well-being and social integration. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) marginalised groups should be protected from discrimination and from arbitrary interference with their family; as well as their right to be entitled to special protection as mothers. The World Health Organisation (WHO) provides that investing in evidence based treatment decreases both the negative health consequences and the social effects of drug dependence (crime & economic burden etc). Treatment has proven to be a cost effective strategy and it is certainly less expensive both economically and socially than damaging the lives of entire families generationally by unnecessarily and forcibly removing their children. The Disability Discrimination Legal Service states:
Australia’s reputation as a leader in the management of drug dependence has been diminished by introducing punitive measures instigated at a federal level. Strictly punitive measures for combating drug dependency are unsuccessful. To discriminate against a person entirely on the basis of their substance dependency serves to further marginalise drug dependent people, undermine their health and social status, and potentially increase their dependence on drugs. 
Further evidence indicates that forced removal of the infant negatively impacts and makes worse the mother’s mental, physical and social health problems in the immediate as well as the long term and the “ripple” effect means that these effects last over her life time and impact on her subsequent children, partners and grandchildren. Further it increases her risk of suicide and her taken infant is more than 3 times more likely to commit suicide than those allowed to remain with their mother/families.
Therefore nothing could be more punitive, discriminatory and damaging than forcibly removing one’s child on the basis of drug dependency. Rehabilitation for drug addicted mothers has proven successful both here and the US and safer for the child than being placed with strangers in the foster care system. Research also indicates that chances of successful treatment increase dramatically when parents are allowed to keep their young children with them. Research also provides evidence that the infants of drug addicted mothers being given supportive treatment do better than babies taken and fostered. Leaving researchers with the opinion that separation from their mothers is more toxic than cocaine. In short, keeping children with parents and offering supportive preservation services and drug treatment is safer, more stable and less traumatic for children, than being in the care of strangers in the foster care system. Removing children creates generational abuse. Studies have proven that large proportions of homeless adults grew up in foster care and as well a large percentage of the parents found to have abused and neglected children grew up in the foster care system. Forced Adoption is known to create intergenerational trauma for both Aboriginal and White Australians and therefore should never be re-instated as a public policy under any circumstances.
Failure of the Australian Government to Protect
The first duty of the Federal Government is to protect its people. It is failing to protect the citizens of NSW from discrimination, exploitation and the continuance of abuse that begun with the forced removal of our newborns and children for the adoption market during the 20th century. When a State commits acts of torture and/or degrading and inhumane treatment on its citizens it must make a fulsome apology. That includes making redress and ensuring that the abuses for which it apologises never happens again. The NSW government in introducing laws and policy that will forcibly remove newborns at the birth for the purposes of adoption has violated the spirit of both the State and Federal Apologies. It is further violating the rights of parents who suffer poor mental health and substance dependence. It is failing to fulfil its obligations, under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), under Art 16 (4) and Art 16 (5) by not implementing strategies and resources to rehabilitate its most vulnerable citizens and enable them to parent their own children. In breaking its promise to us the victims that it would desist from ever again forcibly removing children for the purpose of adoption I argue that specific articles in the CAT are enlivened retrospectively from the time the crimes were committed. In the case of Forced Adoptions that goes back to the early 20th century.
Continuing cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT))
Since the AustralianState has failed in its duty under the CAT to alleviate the effects of the policy of forced removals this of itself amounts to the continuation of degrading and inhuman treatment in contravention of Article 16. The State has a duty to prevent ongoing inhuman treatment by giving assistance to fully rehabilitate victims and to investigate and provide redress under Articles 13 and 14 of the CAT. A part of the rehabilitation process includes keeping the promise that never again would newborns be forcibly removed for the purpose of adoption:
Today, this Parliament, on behalf of the Australian people, takes responsibility and apologises for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies, which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering.
To each of you who were adopted or removed … who were denied the opportunity to grow up with your family and community of origin and to connect with your culture, we say sorry
We recognise that the consequences of forced adoption practices continue to resonate through many, many lives. To you, the siblings, grandparents, partners and other family members who have shared in the pain and suffering of your loved ones or who were unable to share their lives, we say sorry.
We resolve, as a nation, to do all in our power to make sure these practices are never repeated. In facing future challenges, we will remember the lessons of family separation. Our focus will be on protecting the fundamental rights of children and on the importance of the child’s right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
With profound sadness and remorse, we offer you all our unreserved apology.
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Additionally the AustralianState in its failure to educate the community and mental health experts of the serious mental health problems caused by their previous policy of Forced Adoption stands in violation of Articles 1, 14 and 16 of the CAT. If medical staff and child protection officers understood the trauma inflicted by separating a mother from her newborn they would not be currently engaged in the practice.
The AustralianState has failed to comply with Article 10 of the CAT to train law enforcement, medical personnel, social workers and child protection workers to know that forcibly removing a newborn from its mother constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment.
For economic reasons the NSW government has by stealth introduced legislation and policy to conduct the forced removal of newborns and children of minority groups for the purpose of assimilation amongst white, middle class, usually childless couples. Even though it has apologised for these very same practices and promised they would never be repeated it seems the NSW and Australian Governments are intent on repeating their past mistakes. We have lived through the obscene marketing of our children as “unwanted”. Now we are forced to watch the Murdoch media manipulate public sentiment against the most disadvantaged in our society. We have to listen to hate mongering as anyone disadvantaged or on welfare is stigmatised as negligent child abusers. The social controllers are at it again. Once again they want babies.
Is this 21st Century Genocide?
The theft of Aboriginal children, 17% of whom were taken at birth for adoption, and the dislocation of their families has been acknowledged as a major cause of their contemporary social problems. Some of which include alcohol, poverty, drug addiction and family violence; the very same social issues that will now put their children at risk for removal. To make matters worse the government is closing down many of the services it formerly provided to assist vulnerable Aboriginal families stay intact. So the break up of Aboriginal families and resultant social consequences continues. The rate of removal is highest in NSW where in 2011 9.6 per cent of Aboriginal Children were in out-of-home care. It is not just NSW though, that is forcibly taking babies at birth.
The Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry found that up to “197 babies were taken from their parent’s hours after birth in north Queensland hospitals between July 2009 and June 2012”. At a recent conference The Secretariat of Aboriginal and Islander Child Care advocates reported “a shocking rate of surveillance” and from every State accounts of “armed police accompanying child protection workers to raid houses and rip children away”. Aboriginal Legal Service workers say that child protection agencies often refuse to engage with families before babies are removed and favour non-Indigenous carers. Chief Minister Giles (NT) who prefers to blame the victims rather than past government policies advocates for Forced Adoption claiming that the current situation is because people were scared to remove children in case they were accused of creating another stolen generation. Parts of the media are supporting Giles’ stance and are contriving to manipulate public sentiment to support expansion of the forced removal program. For instance Paddy Gibson writes:
Rupert Murdoch praised Giles’ leadership and courage. The Daily Telegraph carried a double page spread and an editorial celebrating Giles’ who ‘Saved Generation’. A.O. Neville, the Commissioner for Native Affairs during early years of the Stolen Generation, put it similarly in 1934: ‘They have to be protected against themselves whether they like it or not’. 
Canadian Aboriginal activist Simon Raven explains that the United Nations Convention on Genocide (1948) Article II (e) states that “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” constitutes the deliberate destruction of a culture and defines an element of genocide that is punishable. Paul Bartrop and Samuel Totten who co-authored The Dictionary of Genocide stated the use of the term can be “sustained relatively easily” when describing the Stolen Generations. Past removal policies were based on the Commonwealth of Australia’s stated intent to ‘breed out’ Aboriginality. According to Bartrop among the ‘disciplinary’ measures imposed was the transfer of non-white children to white families and “is the most controversial, and clear case of genocide under Article II (e)”. Historian Christine Cheater states: “The adoption of Aboriginal children by white families became the ultimate form of assimilation, and by 1955 the number of children fostered and adopted was more than double the number institutionalised. Adopted children lost all contact with their families and their Aboriginal culture. The NSW government following recommendations from the Federal Government is once again engaged in a policy of Forced Adoption. Succeeding governments are well aware of the destruction their removal policies had on Aboriginal communities. This present policy could be construed, as a violation of the promise by Prime Minister Rudd (2008) that the tearing apart of Aboriginal families would never happen again and as well, the continuation of a genocidal policy enacted for most of the 20th century. Irrespective of intent, to implement the same policy today and expect a different outcome is either extremely stupid or yet another attempt at assimilation. I would urge the Human Rights Commission to intercede on behalf of Aboriginal Australians to ensure that their families remain intact and that they are provided with appropriate and adequate support services to enable them to achieve this outcome.
Legislation to facilitate Forced Adoption
In 2009 Professor Ainsworth raised concerns about the use of certain sections of the NSW Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 that target specific vulnerable groups for removal of their children and is reflective of policy and legislation that created the stolen generations, which includes the survivors of Forced Adoption. Section 23 of the Act sets out the circumstances that must be present if a child is to be considered ‘at risk of harm’. By adding an extra clause, cl. (f) to Sec 23, the definition of when a child is considered to be at risk of harm and what constitutes child abuse or neglect is expanded.
Section 23 states that a child or young person is at risk of harm if
(f) The child was subject of a pre-natal report under sec 25 and the birth mother did not engage successfully with support services to eliminate or minimise to the lowest level reasonably practical the risk facts that gave rise to the report.
This is highly problematic on the face of it because it is open to the subjective opinion and bias of the person making the evaluation. Whether or not a person is perceived to have conformed to a particular standard is influenced by a number of factors. Not the least is that it would be very hard for a person already presumed to be ‘unfit’ to measure up to a preconceived ideal of permanency and stability, symbolised by a married, middle class infertile couple that currently had possession of the baby. Amongst other considerations is the conflict of interest of the Child Welfare Department, or its contractors, who on the one hand removed the child and on the other selected the substitute parents. Further complicated by the fact a representative of the same Department is expected to write an unbiased report, and do so in spite of the competing interests of the two sets of parents. I would suggest the ‘best interests of the child’ principle is lost in the process.
Professor Roberts states that placing foster children in pre-adoptive homes while parents are still struggling to reunify the family preordains the outcome. Child protection and social workers that see foster parents as adoptive parents have a vested interest in the breakdown of preservation efforts. Foster parents who intend to adopt have a great deal of influence over the children in their care and their visitation schedules. They are instructed to report negative incidents between biological parents and children. When both caseworkers and foster parents teams up to pursue adoption, it is easy to sabotage biological parents’ efforts to maintain ties with their children.
One 26 year old mother who had completed everything that was asked of her by protection workers was denied reunification with her daughter, whom she had successfully reared for the first three years of her life. The foster parents had stated that on her visits, three a week, she had turned up “smelling of tobacco and was sometimes late”.
The new laws empower medical staff to scrutinise a pregnant mother and hold over her the fact that they have the power to remove her baby if she does not conform to their demands. Victoria Glover examined a number of studies on the effects of maternal stress on the developing foetus and stated:
Ante-natal maternal psychological problems are linked with complications of the pregnancy … ante-natal stress or anxiety are linked with prematurity, or low birth weight … smaller head circumference … Stress has a similar magnitude of effect to smoking … Prenatal stress significantly worsened the scores on the neonatal neurological examination. It is possible that raised maternal stress hormones constrict the uterine artery causing impaired blood flow to the baby which in turn generates a fetal stress response. Maternal stress also predisposes the infant to be less resilient to stress. Several groups have suggested that a hyper-responsive HPA axis is the primary defect with changes in monoamine systems being secondary … maternal stress in pregnancy has long-term neuro-developmental effects on the infant, and these may include an increased predisposition to later depression.
The other concerning section is 106A. It states that a person who has had the care and protection of a child that was previously removed by a court (in 70% of cases the removal was not occasioned by abuse) under the Act and if it has not been restored the removal will be used as prima facie evidence of the potential for abuse of subsequent children. This has led to circumstances where care orders have been triggered by the birth of a subsequent child. This section of the Act means that the Department does not have to argue for the establishment of its case to get a care order that then empowers it to remove the infant from the mother immediately after delivery. Purely by submission of the evidence of a previous child removal, which of itself, is not constrained by normal rules of evidence, it is automatically established that any subsequent child is at risk. In other words the child protection worker can get a care order and remove the child without ever having to make its case. It is up to the parent to rebut the assumption of ‘unfitness’. Hence a parent is presumed guilty until he or she can prove their innocence.
Additionally in 2006 there was an amendment to the NSW Adoption Act 2000 which expanded the reasons for dispensing with parental consent. In particular NSW Adoption Amendment Act 2006, section 67 (1)
(c) If an application has been made to the Court for the adoption of the child by one or more persons who are authorised carers for the child and:
(i) the child has established a stable relationship with those carers,
(ii) the adoption of the child by those carers will promote the child’s welfare
(iii) in the case of an Aboriginal child alternatives to placement for adoption have been considered in accordance with s36.
When the amendment was introduced what constituted a stable relationship was open to subjective interpretation.
According to Professor Ainsworth in practice the 106A amendment is being used with increased regularity to remove children from their mothers soon after birth. In particular when another child has previously been removed and/or the mother has or did have in the past, a problem with substance dependence. The newborn is removed on the grounds that it prevents the mother from becoming attached. This was exactly the same reason proffered in the 1950s and 1960s for denying mothers the right to see their baby at the birth. In fact it was used to justify the cruel and barbaric practice of holding a sheet or pillow across the mother’s face so she could not make eye contact with her newborn and so finish the birthing process. In the1960s a British paediatrician denounced the practice has extraordinarily punitive and of serving no medical purpose. Yet it continued in Australia because it was known by adoption agents that the mother was so traumatised that it made the forcible removal of the child easier. The practice was only completely stopped in 1982 when a Health Commission Circular warned medical and social work staff that by denying mothers their right to access their infants they were acting illegally, and the adoption was open to being overturned on the grounds that it was illegally obtained. It has been acknowledged in the ensuing years that not only were these forced adoptions illegal, but that they violated the mothers’ right to be free from inhumane and degrading treatment. Further that denying the infant the right to be brought up within its own family contravenes the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Australia is a signatory.
Additionally there are in use contracts that women who used drugs or alcohol are made to sign: Parental Responsibility Contracts. If women refuse to undergo treatment or do not conform to what protection officers expect they lose their infant. At present these contracts apply after a child has been born. Pru Goward is introducing new legislation that will extend the Contracts to prior to birth along with more powers to dispense with consent to adoption. This is a just a grab for other peoples’ babies. The chief executive of the Association for Child Welfare Agencies, Andrew McCallum, said the fairness of the proposed policies depended on increased support being given to birth parents to give them real opportunities to have their children restored before adoption was considered.
Goward contends that earlier intervention will mean that the mother has a “better chance of keeping her baby”. Why should the mother be placed in a position where she has to fight to keep her baby? If we have learnt anything from past Forced Adoption is that removing a child does not break the cycle of suffering. Traumatised parents pass on their trauma to their subsequent children. Adoptees who never attached to their adopters cannot attach to their children. Many find relationships difficult because their first and most important one, with their mother, was broken.
Often substance abusing parents were themselves abused as children, many being victims of past poor welfare practices.  Rather than being discriminated against by having their children removed families or mothers in crisis should be given the same support and access to care as would be made available to any other person suffering a disability. To put this into context a depressed mother can cause more damage to her baby than one who is drug addicted, but not suffering depression. Yet we do not routinely remove the children of depressed or anxious mothers. It is therefore more about punishment of the parent than supporting the child.  Being depressed is considered something we have no control over whereas the general consensus is a drug addict chooses that lifestyle. Simplistic reasoning that is just not true.
Further the intense scrutiny of the mother and the expectation that she will be fully rehabilitated by the time of the birth puts unbelievable pressure on a mother who is already obviously in distress. Extensive research indicates that whatever happens to the mother is felt by the foetus, particularly stress. To place a mother under such an inordinate amount of pressure knowing that this will negatively impact the baby mentally and physically constitutes inhumane treatment. The system of detecting and reporting drug use during pregnancy, which leads to the removal of the newborn from the care of its mother, is plagued by class bias. The desire to remove these children from the care of their mothers can be attributed to pervasive stereotypical images of pregnant substance abusers and unwed mothers. It focuses on punishing what the elite deem is “disgraceful parenting” instead of deciding what is actually best for the child. Pundits like Jeremy Sammut claim that single mothers are ‘welfare cheats’ perpetuating an underclass of criminals and dependents. The attempt to penalize “bad mothers” and “ineffective parents” ultimately hurts the child. Separating a child from its familial bond is extremely destructive and should never be done lightly.
The simplistic proposition that one can break the attachment between a mother and child by quick removal at the birth is so profoundly stupid that one wonders: what level of education is needed to become a child protection officer? How can the maternity staff possibly countenance such cruelty and stupidity? This practice completely contradicts all the research done in the many decades since Bowlby (1951) first espoused his theory of attachment.  The connection between a mother and infant is a bond, not attachment, and is known to be a highly complex relationship. In the 1950s it was presumed that an infant attached to any carer as long as its needs were being met. It is now understood that no substitute carer, however well intentioned can duplicate the relationship/bond between a mother and her infant. It is a mother/baby dyad, not two separate individuals who interact. It is a symbiotic relationship. It develops during the 9 month gestation period. There are multiple component processes at play connecting the infant to the mother which have a powerful regulatory effect on the developing infant prior to, during and immediately after the birth. Through her interactions with her infant the mother directly shapes the developing physiology and behaviour of her infant. During the birth process the secretion of specific hormones, in particular oxytocins, further hormonally cement the mother/child connection. According to Schore and Schore Bowlby’s attachment theory has now shifted to a “regulation theory”. The mother not only acts as a regulator of the infant’s emotions, but of his or her metabolic, nutrient and behavioural mechanisms. These systems regulate the infant’s activity level, sucking behaviour, oxygen consumption, sleep-wake cycles, circadian rhythms, hormonal, cardiovascular, enzyme production, temperature, immune and neuroendocrine responses.
The trauma incurred on the newborn by being removed at birth is severe and has lifelong consequences. It is known from copious research data done on the thousands of adoptees taken at birth from their unwed mothers and placed with adoptive parents that they are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than their non-adopted peers irrespective of the quality of the parenting. Suffer high levels of depression, anxiety, identity disorders, attention deficit disorders and addictions which according to psychotherapist and addiction specialist Paul Sunderland, directly results from the underlying trauma caused by being separated from their mother at the birth. He suggests this trauma is a complex form of developmental PTSD as the newborn has no previous experience to buffer the trauma of being separated from the only environment it has ever known and that trauma subsequently interferes with the cognitive and emotional developmental stages of the child. It also causes the adoptee to feel like a “bad person” because the separation is experienced as rejection of his or her personhood. Maternal and infant researcher Dr. Michael Odent states, that impaired capacity to love either oneself or others caused by perceived maternal rejection causes guilt and shame which may lead of itself to suicide, drug abuse and eating disorders. Adoptees therefore are over represented in mental health clinics. According to Marshall Schechter (1960), a hundred times more than their non-adopted peers; again irrespective of the quality of parenting. Further if they have been abused by their adoptive parents they are more likely to become homeless and end up in the prison system. 
A US Report published in 1982 on the epidemic of violence and child abuse accorded primary blame to the violence done to infants and mothers at birth particularly their separation. The most traumatic event for mammals is separation from mother: It causes brain changes, alters physiological function and development of limbic system, (amygdale & hippocampus). It interferes with regulation of emotional behaviours, learning and memory function and the expression of behavioural and endocrine response to stress through life.  It can be so extreme that when separation is combined with birth complications adopted adolescents commit 4 times the violent crimes than their non-adopted peers. If the government is serious about reducing child abuse then it must stop forcibly taking newborns from their mothers and giving them to strangers. When all the social damage and the financial expense to remedy it is added up it amounts to billions of dollars. Surely putting in place services that keeps vulnerable families intact, is far better and a much cheaper option for society in the long run. It is the only way to circumvent the generational abuse that the government begun by its past, forced removal policies.
The ‘Alert’ Notice
It is very concerning that the Department of Community Services has learnt nothing from the past. If certain subjective criteria are met it is once again placing a secret code on pregnant women’s files, that ‘alert’ child protection and social workers to the fact that this baby is being targeted for forced removal. This is done with the approval of the NSW Health Department. Even if the mother has completely turned around her life and the substance dependence or the reason for the first removal no longer exists. It also must be said that just like being an unwed mother did not mean that the mother ever abused a child or would ever abuse one in the future, neither does having an addiction automatically mean the mother is a child abuser. To remove a child because of a suspicion that the mother might cause emotional abuse sometime in the future, is crystal ball gazing for political expediency. Social science does not provide reliable tools to predict outcomes, particularly over the long term. Longitudinal studies have shown that predictions made about the development of particular children were wrong two-thirds of the time. Even the facts on which a decision is based can change, such as the decision to place a child with a middle class, two parent family. Divorce, death, illness, or financial disaster can turn that once “preferable” family into one that is less desirable, such as single parent family. Adoptive parents quite frequently point out that the most dangerous family form for a child is one that consists of a single mother living in a de fact relationship with a man who is not the father of the child. Yet paradoxically they acknowledge when single parents want to adopt: “I think it is discriminatory to not allow [single parents] to apply … an awful lot of parents in Australia become single after they become parents, of course that includes adoptive parents”.
The ‘alert’ dictates to medical staff that they must alert DoCS as soon as the mother is admitted to hospital as a maternity patient. DoCS forbids medical staff to inform the mother of the secret code on her file because they do not want her to know her baby will be taken after birth. This parallels practices already condemned by legal and psychiatric expert witness testimony given at the NSW Inquiry into Past Practices in Forced Adoption (2000). The Upper House Senators of that Inquiry were informed that mothers had a secret code placed on their medical files by the social work department under instruction from the Health department. It informed medical staff that the unwed mother’s baby would be forcibly removed from her at the birth. Being unwed during most of the 20th century equated with being an ‘unfit’ mother who would be presumed some time in the future to abuse her child. There was no evidence to prove this except her marital status. Just as today there is no evidence that a particular mother will abuse her child, only that she fits into a category of mothers who are deemed by virtue of their disadvantage – child abusers.
So from 2006 amendments to various pieces of child welfare legislation have empowered the NSW government to forcibly remove babies and children from our most vulnerable citizens by stealth, under the guise of a child protection policy – starting from birth. They can be targeted for removal even if it is only suspected that the unborn infant may later suffer emotional abuse. No heed is being taken of the evidence provided by neurobiological science that the most abusive trauma inflicted on a newborn is to be separated from its mother. That trauma is lifelong and effects cognitive, emotional and immune functions. Instead, as was the case with Bowlby’s attachment theory, science is being misapplied to further a political agenda. Because attachment theory acknowledged the importance of the mother to the infant’s psychobiological development, but unwed mothers were presumed neglectful and devoid of maternal feelings, the baby was forcibly taken, sight unseen, and given to strangers. An act then justified by Bowlby’s attachment theory with adoption agents stating that the infant needed to be placed with the married mother as soon as possible after birth so it could ‘attach’. The bond, already formed during the 9 month gestation period was dismissed if the mother was single. This was routinely done even though it has been known since 1954 that separating a baby from its mother caused it physical damage and its mother, mental health problems.
The maternal bond was violated on the grounds that it was more important that the infant had “permanency and stability” supposedly provided by a married, white couple. How permanent and stable the home adoptive parents gave is disputed. Many of our stolen children reported being brought up by a single parent because of divorce.  Some adoptions failed when, as teenagers, they ran away and became homeless. Victims of failed adoptions were found dying from drug overdoses on the streets.
Researchers have argued that there needs to be a better means of data collection in order to estimate the number of children who have died or been abused in adoptive homes. The economical and social costs caused by failed adoptions, has never been calculated in Australia. It was acknowledged however, that around 19% of adoptions were known to have failed by the 1980s.
In Australia failed adoptions are hard to identify. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) identifies two types of failed adoptions, a ‘disruption’: an adoption process that ends after the child is placed in an adoptive home, but before the adoption is legally finalised and the child is returned to state care or a ‘dissolution’: an adoption that ends after it is legally finalised. Again, with the child returned to state care. However the AIHW states:
It is difficult to access the frequency of adoption dissolution because after the adoption is legally finalised adoptees are no longer a readily identifiable group [and that] there is a paucity of current information on the rate of adoption disruption in Australia.
However disruption rates worldwide range from 10-40%. In the UK one third of adoptions of children over 5 break down. It was reported that one in five adoptions in Wales break down, but the Wales manager for Adoptions UK stated that it could be as high as 1 in 3. In the US it is estimated that between 10- 25% of adoptions are disrupted and the number of dissolutions are hard to determine as at the time of adoption a child’s records are closed and their first and last names and Social Security numbers may be changed and other identifying information modified. Amongst Canadian Aboriginal peoples the number of failed adoptions is particularly high estimated to be about 95% when the child reaches their teen years.
In the US adoptive parents are paid a subsidy up until the child reaches 18. Apparently many adoptions break down at that time and their adopted children find themselves homeless and living on the streets. Therefore following the US and UK model of expanded Forced Adoption is a very slippery slope indeed.
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 Australia ratified The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948) and committed itself to provide special protection to mothers and infants, irrespective of birth status, and to desist from committing inhuman and degrading acts against its citizens, freedom against arbitrary detention, security of person and right to legal redress for crimes that violate UDHR principles – the continuation of its policy of forcible removal of newborns violates its obligations and therefore Australia is in violation of the UDHR – Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 23, 24, 25(2); Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) (ratified 1989). CAT Violations of Articles: 1, 4, 6, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16
Article 1 – torture: severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, intentionally inflicted on a person for purposes of punishment, intimidation, coercion based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain is inflicted by consent or acquiescence of a public official or person acting in an official capacity
Article 4 – Each State party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law and shall apply to any person who is complicit in or participates in acts of torture
Article 6 – The State must inquire into the facts alleged re torture and take into custody persons alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4
Article 10 – Each State Party shall ensure that education and information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully included in training of law enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials who are involved in the detention of individuals
Article 12 – Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to prompt and impartial investigation, where there is reasonable grounds to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction
Article 13 – Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he had been subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by competent authorities.
Article 14 – Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the event of the death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his dependants shall be entitled to compensation.
Article 16 – Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12, and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of reference to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
ia University, (1999). No Safe haven: Children of Substance-Abusing ParentsNew York: January
AustralianState in violation of CAT prior to ratification (1989)
In the case of A. A. v. Azerbaijan it was established that events of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment that happened prior to the ratification of the treatment, but continue to have effects after the State party’s acceptance of the Convention and if the effects constitute themselves a violation of the Convention, are violations of the CAT Articles as if they occurred after ratification. See Communication No. 247/2004, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/247/2004 (2005) http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/cat/decisions/247-2004.html
 Sinclair, Raven. 2007. .Identity lost and found: Lessons from the sixties scoop.. First Peoples Child and Family Review. 3.1 (2007): 65-82.
 Through policy formulated by the Department of the Interior – the same Dept. that guided the States on domestic adoption legislation and policy see Cole, C. (2011). The Broken Bond: Stolen Babies Stolen Motherhood Viewed through a Trauma Perspective. Supplementary Submission No. 223 to Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2010-13/commcontribformerforcedadoption/submissions ;
Cole, C. (2013). Stolen Babies Broken Hearts: Forced Adoption in Australia 1881-1987, Unpublished Doctorate, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, UWS, http://arrow.uws.edu.au:8080/vital/access/manager/Repository/uws:17555
 See Bronwyn Bishop’s recommendation to re-establish forced adoption as a default welfare option by the States – Murphy, K. Quartly, M. & Cuthbert, D. (2010). “In the Best Interests of the Child”: Mapping the (Re) Emergence of Pro-Adoption Politics in Contemporary Australia’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 55(2), pp. 201-218. House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services. (2007). The Winnable War on Drugs: The Impact of illicit drug us on families. Sept 13. Accessed March 5, 2009. http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/fhs/illicitdrugs/report.htm
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services. (2005). Overseas adoption in Australia: report on the inquiry into adoption of children from overseas. Nov 21. Access April 4, 2008. http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/fhs/adoption/report.htm
 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 5; No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or PUNISHMENT. Art. 12; No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy or family; Art. 16 (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state Art. 25 (2). Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection. MacDermott, K. (1984). ‘Rights of Relinquishing Mothers to Access to Information concerning their Adopted Children,’ Human Rights Commission Discussion Paper No. 5, July, Canberra: Human Rights Commission.
Sherry, C. (1992). ‘Violations of women’s human rights: births and adoption’, unpublished paper.
 Verrier, N., (2008, 1993). The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child, USA: Gateway Press Inc; Verrier, N. (2011). ‘Position Statement’, Nancy Verrier, Retrieved 5th September, 2011 from http://nancyverrier.com/position-statement/
Verrier, N. (1997). ‘Separation Trauma’, in J Benson, (Ed.), Separation Reunion Reconciliation: The Sixth Australian Conference on Adoption, Brisbane: Janice Benson; Verny, T. (2001). Pre and Perinatal Perspectives of Adoption, Bonding Before Birth, Accessed Aug 23, 2011. http://www.keepyourbaby.com/bonding_before_birth.html ; Verny, T. (2002). Pre-Parenting: Nurturing your Child from Conception, New York: Simon & Shuster.
 Lickliter, R. (2000). Theories of Attachment: The Long and Winding Road to an Integrative Developmental Science, Integr Psych Behav, 42, pp. 397-405; Schore, A. (2001a). The Effects of Early Relational Trauma on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, and Infant Mental Health, Infant Mental Health Journal, 22(1-2), pp. 201-269.
Schore, A. (2001b). Effects of a Secure Attachment Relationship on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, and Infant Mental Health, Infant Mental Health Journal, 22(1-2), pp. 7-66.
Schore, A. (2009). Relational Trauma and the Developing Right Brain: An Interface of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology and Neuroscience, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1159, pp. 189-203; Winberg, J. (2005). ‘Mother and newborn baby: mutual regulation of physiology and behaviour-a selective review’, Development Psychobiology, 47(3). Nov, p. 217-229.
 Feldman, R., Weller, A., Zagoory-Sharon, O & Levine, A. (2007). ‘Evidence for a Neuroendocrinological Foundation of Human Affiliation: Plasma Oxytocin Levels Across Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period Predict Mother-Infant Bonding’, Psychological Science, 18(11), pp. 965-970; Goldin, P. R., Kateri, M., Wiveka, R. & James, J. G. (2008). The Neural Bases of Emotion Regulation: Reappraisal and Suppression of Negative e Emotion, Biological Psychiatry, 63, pp. 577-586; Gunnar, M. (1998) ‘Quality of care and buffering of neuroendocrine stress reactions: potential effects on the developing human brain’, Prev Med, 27(2), Mar-Apr, pp. 208-211; Odent, M. (2006). The Long-Term Consequences of How We are Born, Primal Health Research Centre, 14(1), Summer, Retrieved 6th September, 2011 from
 Dahlen, H. (2011). ‘Oxytocin: The hormone of love and birth’, Retrieved 6th September, 2011 from
http://www.pregnancy.com.au/resources/topics-of-interest/labour-and-birth/oxytocin-the-hormone-of-love-and-birth.print.shtml ; Nissen, E. Lilja, G, Widstrom, A. & Uvnas-Moberg, K. (1995). Elevation of oxytocin levels early post partum in women, Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 74, pp. 530-533. Odent, M. (2001). ‘New reasons and new ways to study birth physiology, International Journal of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, 75, Suppl 1, pp. S39-45; Odent, M. (1986/2002). Primal Health: Understanding the critical period between conception and the first birthday, East Sussex: Clairview Books.
 Sullivan, et al. (2006). ‘The International Society for Developmental Psychobiology annual Meeting Symposium: Impact of Early Life Experiences on Brain and Behavioural Development’, Developmental Psychobiology, 48(7), pp. 583-602, Nov.
At p. 594; Edelston: 1943 cited in Van der Horst, F. & van der Veer. (2008). Loneliness in Infancy: Harry Harlow, John Bowlby and Issues of Separation, Integr Psych Behav, 42, pp. 325-335.
Anand, K. J. & Scalzo, F. (2000). ‘Can Adverse Neonatal Experiences Alter Brain Development and Subsequent Behaviour’, Biology of the Neonate, 77(2), p. 70; Schore, A. (2001). The Effects of Early Relational Trauma on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, and Infant Mental Health’, Infant Mental Health Journal, 22(1-2), pp. 201-269, at p. 206; Dorn, L., Hitt, S. & Rotenstein, D. (1999). ‘Biopsychological and Cognitive Differences in Children With Premature vs On-Time Adrenarche’, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 153, http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/153/2/137.pdf
Maciag, C., Dent, G., Gilligan, P., He, L., Kowling, K., Ko, T., Levine, S & Smith, M. (2002). ‘Effects of a Non-peptide CRF Antagonist (DMP696) on the Behavioral and Endocrine Sequelae of Maternal Separation’, Neuropsychopharmacology, 26(5), http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v26/n5/pdf/1395841a.pdf
At p. 580.
 Odent, M. (2006). The Long-Term Consequences of How We are Born, Primal Health Research Centre, 14(1), Summer, Retrieved 6th September, 2011 from
http://www.birthlight.com/public/yoga/primalhealthvol14no1.pdf ; Odent, M. (2011). ‘Maternal emotional states and prenatal care’, WombEcology.com
Retrieved from http://www.wombecology.com/maternalemotional.html
 Becker , K., Abraham, A., Kindler, J., Helmeke, C., & Braun, K. (2006). ‘Exposure to Neonatal Separation Stress Alters Exploratory Behaviour and Corticotrophin Releasing factors in Neurons in the Amygdala and Hippocampus’, Developmental Neurobiology, 67(5), pp. 617-629; Odent, M. (2001). ‘New reasons and new ways to study birth physiology, International Journal of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, 75, Suppl 1, pp. S39-45; Odent, M. (2011). ‘Maternal emotional states and prenatal care’, WombEcology.com ; Raber, J. (1998). ‘Detrimental effects of chronic hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation. From obesity to memory deficits’, Molecular Neurobiology, 18(1), Aug, pp. 1-22; Raine, A., Brennan, P. & Medink S. (1994). ‘Birth complications combined with early maternal rejection at age 1 year predispose to violent crime at 18 years’, Arch Gen Psychiatry, 51, pp. 984-988.
Retrieved from http://www.wombecology.com/maternalemotional.html ; Schore, A. (2001a). The Effects of Early Relational Trauma on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, and Infant Mental Health, Infant Mental Health Journal, 22(1-2), pp. 201-269; Schore, A. (2001b). Effects of a Secure Attachment Relationship on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, and Infant Mental Health, Infant Mental Health Journal, 22(1-2), pp. 7-66.
Schore, A. (2009). Relational Trauma and the Developing Right Brain: An Interface of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology and Neuroscience, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1159, pp. 189-203.
 Sinclair, Raven. 2007. .Identity lost and found: Lessons from the sixties scoop.. First Peoples Child and Family Review. 3.1 (2007): 65-82.