What stuns me is the contradictions/differences between countries that all had their own versions of forced adoptions during the same period…
Australia has completed the Senate Inquiry into Forced Adoptions and in the 20 recommendations is a call for the government to apologize. It is also interesting to note that before this inquiry, Australia learned that how adoption had been practiced was wrong, and to my knowledge all (or most) domestic adoptions are now done through state agencies, not private, and the profit has been taken out. That parenting is the first priority and adoption is last, and mothers pensions and health care are the norm. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong on this.
Canada is also starting to warm up to some type of Inquiry into Forced Adoptions although with the Conservative Party having the majority in the federal government, it may take a while. In the Senate (not elected) Senator Art Eggleton has publicly stated there should be an Inquiry, yet I don’t know how much weight he has as the current federal government has appointed a lot of conservatives to the senate recently, to ensure they have a majority there as well. The push may have to come from the provinces to reach the federal level. A class action lawsuit has been filed in British Columbia and it is expected that other provinces will be hit with similar actions as well. In Ontario, MPP Monique Taylor has pushed for a provincial inquiry into the practices.
Just like Australia, although perhaps not as well, Canada learned that how they practiced adoptions in the past was wrong and the number of domestic adoptions are very few outside of foster care. There are still private agencies but the scale is nothing like the US even comparing the population differences, and whether or not there are private agencies is determined by the laws in each province. I could not find any province that provided domestic (non-foster) adoption statistics. It’s important to note Canada also has a year maternity leave and you can qualify for unemployment insurance, provided you have enough weeks of employment. Universal health care at little to no monthly cost, as well as other services are available to mothers.
For Intercountry adoptions at least the Canadian Federal Government is willing to call the issues for what they are Child Trafficking and Corruption.
Ireland which had the same history, has also learned those practices were wrong. There was an inquiry into the Magdalen Laundries by the Human Rights Commission in 2010, but there are calls for further inquiries into the vaccine trials on babies for adoption and how the bodies of those infants who died were treated, as well as other practices. Ireland also exported a sizable number of babies to the US estimated to be a minimum of 2,000 during this period according to this submission to the UN in 2011 by the Adoption Rights Alliance.
In Ireland today, non-family domestic adoptions for all intents and purposes are rare from what I could find. Ireland has an estimated population of 4.5 million and 2008 (most recent report) had a grand total of 67 non-family domestic adoptions of which 25 were done by persons or authorities outside of State and only 1 private placement adoption. Of the 67 non-family adoptions only 3 were under the age of 12 months for that year.
The 2008 report from Ireland (link above) includes this in the opening statement (bolding mine and I also included a link to the actual act):
The purpose of the Adoption Act 2010 is to improve standards in both domestic and intercountry adoption. The regulatory framework governing adoption has been strengthened in an attempt to ensure that the best interests of children are protected at every step throughout the adoption process.
Accredited bodies – organisations delivering adoption services – must comply with the terms of the legislation, which was first published in January 2009. The new legislation seeks to end the practice whereby a single adoption agency could provide the full range of adoption services, from pre-birth counselling to post birth placement with prospective parents. This was a very clear policy decision taken to avoid the obvious conflicts that could arise.
Ireland has also made a concerted effort to make Tracing for adult adoptees easier, but hasn’t made progress on changing the laws for adult adoptees to access their original birth certificates to my knowledge. They did take the manual index cards of adoptions and created an electronic index with 19 separate fields that could be searched in different combinations, and I believe it is a centralized registry. The above report also details statistics on that as well.
Germany has state processed domestic adoption as well and to get an understanding of how they operate please read this post over at International Adoption Reader to understand the fundamental difference of how she sees Adoption as an Institution vs Adoption as an Industry or Establishment elsewhere. The snippet below does not adequately cover everything so go read her post.
Domestic infant adoption cannot and must not be facilitated by private agencies. If a couple applies to adopt domestically (except for stepchild adoption most likely for an infant), their application is taken care of by the same youth welfare authority that is responsible for providing homestudies. You would consequently never find a private body recruiting “birthmothers”, since this is simply illegal, as private adoptions are. Women who are pregnant in difficult circumstances will be offered a really broad range of support – from mother child homes for teenagers to enough welfare money and child support for other situations.(The last cases of forced adoption happened in former socialist East Germany, more than 20 years ago.) Generally, family preservation is the first choice in social work, and children who need to be taken out of a family due to neglect or abuse will be foster children in a setting which allows and supports first family contacts on a regular basis.
I have only chosen to cover a few of the countries that I believe have taken steps in the right direction since the era I was adopted in.
The USA on the other hand hasn’t learned from the past the same way, nor does it appear the least bit interested in looking at the way our mothers were treated or any even talking about it, let alone initiating a Senate Inquiry.
They haven’t restricted the private adoption industry in any meaningful way I can see, like the other countries. Instead, the private adoption industry appears to have focused on how to get more women to surrender their babies for adoption, to working on getting the laws in states changed to allowing for pre-birth expenses to be paid, as well as reducing the waiting period/revocation period in some states. Federally they have worked on as getting the government to pay back the costs of adoption under the Adoption Tax Credit. They adjusted from having a society that demanded women surrender their babies to finding methods to convince women they should surrender to a better home and how they could have “open” adoptions, but never worked to ensure the laws in each state fully protected (if at all) those mothers to ensure the adoption stayed open. They changed their tactics to also include pre-birth matching schemes (that also include hospital plans), and advertising for “birthmothers”, but my question is even though the methods are different, are they really all that better, or just different.
Finally, something I have watched brewing for several years in the US is the mind-set change back to my era, and the politicians are working hard to do just that by systemically reducing the choices and options a mother has. Shannon LC Cate whose personal blog is Peter’s Cross Station has a post on Blog Her that speaks to that much better than I could hope to do, so please read it. The GOP War on Women’s Subtext: A Return to the Baby Scoop Era.