Behind Closed Doors part 1

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Being adopted in 1952, I find the 50’s of particular interest. Archival records indicate that the Secretary of Victoria’s Child Welfare Department was preparing a memorandum to combat baby trafficking at that time. He had concerns on several fronts, but his main concern was the critical role of guardian ad litem

This guardian ad litem is the infant’s legal representative from the time of the mother’s consent to adopt to the point where the judge grants adoption. That guardian, on assessing the suitability of the adopting couple, recommended to the Court that an adoption proceed. Up until 1954 this guardian could be a friend of the adopting family, as long as the person presented as being respectable. Such lack of impartiality frequently led to poor judgements and encouraged corruption. In my case the guardian ad litem was a friend of the adopting family and her assessment was less than impartial.

Although by 1952 some senior bureaucrats and judges had advised changes to the relevant Act there was opposition from the mainly church operated agencies and their supporters. The Department Secretary was particularly critical of the system as it stood and expressed his opinion in various advices to senior politicians and lawyers. However a change in government meant that the proposed amendments were abandoned until 1954. I wonder as to why the incoming Labor government didn’t take a bipartisan approach but it may have been the influence of the Church on that party at that time. The Church didn’t want a ripple in the adoption pond.

 

Being adopted in 1952, I find the 50’s of particular interest. Archival records indicate that the Secretary of Victoria’s Child Welfare Department was preparing a memorandum to combat baby trafficking at that time.