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The Interplay Between Infertility and Adoption in Policy and Practice in Twentieth-Century Australia

  • Shurlee Swain
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter traces the changing relationship between infertility and adoption in mid-twentieth-century Australia. After the Second World War, the lack of babies available for adoption made the role of the adoption broker critical. This coincided with the point at which infertility came to be seen increasingly as a medical or psychological problem. In evidence before the recent Australian Inquiry into Past Adoption Practices, it was alleged that doctors and social workers were under pressure to satisfy the ‘customer’ by producing the baby when other treatments had failed, creating an environment in which single mothers came under extreme pressure to relinquish their children. This chapter explores the validity of such claims, and argues that while the power imbalances between single women, infertile couples, and the agencies which manage adoption remain unaddressed, there is no guarantee that similar injustices will not occur in the future.

Keywords

Adoption Class Psychology Race Social workers 

Research Resources

Primary Sources

    Websites

    1. Adoption History Project website, 2012: http://pages.uoregon.edu/adoption/index.html.
    2. Australian Government, National Apology for Forced Adoptions webpage, 2013: http://www.ag.gov.au/ABOUT/ForcedAdoptionsApology/Pages/default.aspx.
    3. History of Adoption Project website, 2012: http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/historyofadoption/.

    Testimony Relating to Forced Adoptions

    1. Australia Senate Community Affairs References Committee, Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices (Canberra: Senate Printing Unit, 2012).Google Scholar
    2. Christine Cole, Releasing the Past: Mothers’ Stories of Their Stolen Babies (Sydney: Veljanov Printing, 2008).Google Scholar
    3. Pauline Kenny, Daryl Higgins, Carol Soloff, and Reem Sweid, Past Adoption Experiences: National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices (Research Report No. 21) (Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2012).Google Scholar
    4. Parliament of Australia, Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Inquiry (Adoption Inquiry), Submissions, 2010–12: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2010-13/commcontribformerforcedadoption/submissions.
    5. Parliament of New South Wales, Releasing the Past: Adoption Practices 1950–1998, (2000):http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/56E4E53DFA16A023CA256CFD002A63BC?open&refnavid=CO4_2.
    6. Parliament of Tasmania, Joint Select Committee Adoption and Related Services 1950–1988 (1999):http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/Ctee/reports/adopt.pdf.

    Published Sources On Adoption as a Cure for Infertility

    1. Marjorie Bull, ‘About Adoption’, Australian Journal of Social Work, 20:1 (1967), 2–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    On Psychogenic Infertility

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Secondary Sources

    On the History of Adoption

    1. Ellen Herman, Kinship by Design: A History of Adoption in the Modern United States (Chicago, IL, and London: University of Chicago Press, 2008).Google Scholar
    2. Marian Quartly, Shurlee Swain, and Denise Cuthbert, The Market in Babies: Stories of Australian Adoption (Melbourne: Monash University Publishing, 2013).Google Scholar

    On the History of Infertility

    1. Neville Hicks, ‘This Sin and Scandal’: Australia’s Population Debate 1891–1911 (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1978).Google Scholar
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    On Psychogenic Infertility

    1. Randi Hutter Epstein, ‘Emotions, Fertility, and the 1940s Woman’, Journal of Public Health Policy, 24:2 (2003), 195–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Catholic UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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