Regarding the letters/answers received by Hon. Amy Adams 11/02/2015
Ms Adams, it seems is receiving advice from the Min of Justice advisory team.
Perhaps the team does not understand the awful history of adoption in NZ, after all it is history, in this case my history. I refer to the practices of ‘forced adoption.’ Adam’s response does not address the issues that I have raised. She does however give a ‘rundown’ of the Adoption Act 1955.
I make the following comments and I would like them to be read and taken with the seriousness that is intended.
Consent given under duress is not consent, consent given when no other option or support is offered is not consent. Consent given with only token legal support or advice given is not consent(at the time of signing with one hand on the bible promising not to try and find one’s own child). Consent given when the MOTHER was still incarcerated is not consent (even if I had known that there was a ten day period when I could have refused to allow anyone to take my child, who would I have gone to)?
Signing a paper when all the power is on one side, when one is in emotional turmoil, when one has been escorted to the legal office by the person who has facilitated the removal of one’s child, is not consent.
It is a legal axiom that consent not freely given in not consent at all, and the history of the adoption corruption in New Zealand relied upon invalid consents, obtained by political pressure, manipulation, threats, illegal practices, emotional blackmail and standover tactics. The state and its officials colluded with institutions and intending adopters in maintaining these abuses of power. These practices were systematic, not sporadic, events.
To say that the responsibility for that system lies with families, as Collins has done, is absurd, amounting to a monstrous distortion, which absolves the enablers, who relied on secrecy and political protection to conceal their actions from any public scrutiny. They supposed that status quo would last forever, and the passage of the Adult Adoption Information Act 1985 was a very severe shock to them and their abuses of power. It is extremely revealing that the adoption practices of the state’s social workers changed remarkably from that time, although there was no legislative requirement for this to occur when and how it did. (from ‘Apology is Not Enough by Anna Coffey-Noall and Maggie Wilkinson)
I made phone calls to that person (Matron of the home) continually in the weeks after, pleading to have my child back, only to receive a wall of repudiation…in retrospect I realise that I had given birth to the commodity, which had been wanted by someone else, I had done my duty of supply. I was not needed anymore.
IT IS NOT ABOUT NOW (except the grief is still as profound) IT IS HOW IT WAS THEN! Do not give platitudes about (what you have been advised to say) about how new practices have been snuck into the adoption ACT (without consultation) to appease me.
My rights as a New Zealand citizen were ignored by the State’ when the State actively supported the church home’s fevered obsession in removing the baby from its Mother, to supply the entitled market.
St Marys Anglican Home for unwed Mothers was a baby farm which carried out its practices with the full support of church and State.
After which, we (the Mothers), after months of servitude were turfed out and told to ‘get on with it.’ In my case bleeding physically and mentally. Fifty years later, I am given platitudes that ‘it is no longer like that?’
Below is an excerpt from a thesis by Gillian Palmer:
Birth mothers : adoption in New Zealand and the social control of women, 1881-1985.
Authors: Palmer, Gillian R.
Issue Date: 1991
Abstract: This thesis profiles the lives of women in New Zealand, comparing these generalised experiences to emerging adoption law from a feminist perspective. Although this thesis covers adoption’s legislative history from its inception, it concentrates on the era of closed adoptions, from 1955-1985. This period encompasses a period in adoption history in which women were forced to surrender their children and then silenced and forgotten. This thesis draws on secondary sources and interviews with birth mothers in Christchurch from as long ago as 1940 and from as recently as 1979. Women who gave up their children for adoption were given a ‘choice’ to adoption or to keep their child. However, the issue in not necessarily one of the birth mother’s ‘choice’, rather it is the conditions under which choices are made. Birth mothers were rendered powerless and invisible by the adoption process. The law’ and practice of adoption in New Zealand is examined as a form of social control over birth mothers, the women who gave up their children for adoption. This form of social control is, it is argued, a result of the patriarchal power relations. It is argued that adoption has formed part of population ideology and control, supporting the nuclear family and maintaining the patriarchal status quo.
Publisher: University of Canterbury. Department of History
I also consider that my treatment and that of many other young women was a breach of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which New Zealand is a sovereign state.
Julia Gillard’s “National Apology for Forced Adoptions” to Australian mothers does acutely reflect and speak to the same suffering of people trapped in New Zealand’s murky adoption past. It’s time for NZ to stop equivocating and demonstrate the same courage.