Why adoption should continue to be the ‘last resort’ in Qld
Letter to the Editor by Kerri Saint
ON AUGUST 10, 2020, the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee commenced considering the proposed amendment to the Queensland Child Protection Act, which stipulates that adoption be more readily available as a care option.
This Bill came about following the State Coroners report into the tragic death of Mason Jet Lee, who died at the hands of his step father three years ago.
The proposed Bill would see adoption moved from being fourth on the hierarchy of care options, to the third option.
Currently, adoption is viewed as a last resort, and this has been for a number of very good reasons. Adoption requires that the birth certificate be changed, and that a child be permanently and legally severed from their biological parents and all other family members, including siblings and grandparents.
Adoption is extremely traumatic, causing deep, life-long consequences and intense unresolved grief and loss.
Adopted people are four more times likely to commit suicide than non-adopted people, adversely affecting indigenous and non-indigenous alike.
Service provision for ongoing pain and suffering of those already affected is extremely poor, and many adopted people are still left unsupported.
The inquiry into the bill received 38 submissions from individuals, support groups and organisations - all but a minor few reject the proposed bill.
This includes the Queensland Human Rights Commission, Australian Association of Social Workers, and the Queensland family and Child Commission.
Most notably, the Benevolent Society, one of Australia’s oldest welfare organisations, who offered an apology to victims for their role in former forced adoptions, also strongly disagrees with the change.
Many are confused as to why the Coroner proposed that adoption be more readily available for children in care, when Mason Jet Lee was not in care himself.
The failure to protect Mason from harm was a failure of the system, and the lack of oversight, training and funding for child safety workers and not a fault of current adoption laws.
Adoptive families are prone to the same levels of dysfunction and family breakdown as any other family. However support stops 12 months after an adoption.
This is extremely problematic and concerning as adoptive families will face many issues not faced by biological families.
Adopted children, torn from their biological family and suffering other trauma related issues, would require intensive ongoing care often well into their adulthood, and it is just not available.
Adoption is still an option under the current model and other forms of long term care provide the ongoing support needed, such as Kinship Care, Guardianship and Permanent care orders.
Adopted people hold grave concerns around this proposed bill as government still refuses accountability for abuse, and mistreatment caused by past adoption practices. These victims have waited all their life for the question posed by the Committee Member for McCalister, Mrs McMahon after hearing all the evidence; “How do we get it across to the public, the harm and trauma of adoption”?
Kerri Saint, Association for Adoptees
(Formerly Known as WASH; White Australian Stolen Heritage)
Editor’s Note: The committee will table its report on August 28, 2020.