The Adoption Solution

sad kidWill the Northern Territory Royal Commission into the Don Dale scandal and the relevant issues pertaining to youth detention get to the root cause of the problem: the flawed child protection practices that damage children and leave them prone to criminal and other anti-social behaviours?

Going by the recommendations of the latest similar inquiry — South Australia’s Nyland Royal Commission into child protection, which has just reported — the most likely outcome is a multi-million dollar exercise in defending the indefensible status quo; while shooting the messengers who argue that things must be done differently to achieve different outcomes.

Take the way the Nyland report has grossly misrepresented the position of those calling for an increase in adoptions to address the nation’s child welfare crisis. More adoptions are necessary, not only to rescue maltreated children from dysfunctional families, but also to save them from the child protection systems that fail them in all states and territories.

But according to Commissioner Nyland, adoption advocates supposedly fail to understand that many — probably most — of the children who end up in long-term foster and other forms of out-of-home care are damaged and ‘un-adoptable’ because of their behavioural, psychological and other problems.

This claim is false. Supporters of greater use of adoption have long argued that giving children safe and stable adoptive families must occur in conjunction with dramatic changes to frontline child protection practices; so children are removed earlier and permanently from shocking homes — before they are damaged by the trauma experienced both at home and while in care.

The Royal Commission has inexplicably downplayed the forensic, and widely reported, findings of the 2015 inquest into the death of four-year-old Chloe Valentine. South Australian Coroner Mark Johns found that Chloe died because Families SA was obsessively focused on doing everything it could to keep the appallingly abused child with her neglectful mother.

All Australian child protection services practice ‘family preservation’ at almost all costs, and only remove children as a last resort.

Despite being reported multiple times because of safety concerns, children are left with even highly dysfunctional parents — such as Chloe’s mother — who have serious drug and alcohol, domestic violence and other social problems.

The parental abuse and neglect that children are exposed in the name of family preservation is the reason there are so many damaged children among the more than 43,000 children currently in care nationally. The damage done by parental mistreatment is then compounded as children are churned in and out of care as family restorations are repeatedly attempted and repeatedly breakdown.

A child protection system that profoundly damages children is, by definition, a failed system that requires root-and-branch pro-adoption cultural change by putting the best interests of children first — not the interests of parents demonstrably incapable of looking after children properly.

Rather than taking up the true reform challenge to ensure children are saved rather than continue to suffer, the Nyland Report adopts a blasé attitude to the fate of children failed by the system. The report claims that calls for more adoptions are impractical, while admitting that the reason adoptions are likely to break down is “as a result of extreme behaviour of children relating to their earlier mistreatment.”

Instead of calling for the scrapping of harmful family preservation policies — as logic and common sense would suggest — Commissioner Nyland is content to recommend traumatised children with no chance of returning home be placed into long-term guardianship care, with no mention of addressing systemic problems that cause the trauma. This amounts to recommending that foster care continue to be used as a dumping ground for the children failed and damaged by the system.

Calls for more timely adoptions may sound like an extreme policy to the uninitiated. This is of course an awesome intervention by the state into the lives of children and parents. But the solution is in proportion to the scale of the problems with the current child protection set up — which mean that the state agencies charged by statute with protecting children permit, rather than prevent, child abuse and neglect in tens –of –thousands of cases.

I’ve described the child protection system in Australia as ‘mad’ based on the old saying that the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The truth of that has unfortunately been proven by the Nyland Report, which is a nothing less than a blueprint for perpetuating the flawed — and sometimes fatal — status quo in child protection.

Let’s hope the Northern Territory Royal Commission does a better job. But that is shy hope in the extreme. What we really need is for governments to commit to a genuine reform policy — as distinct from a ‘process’ — that has increasing the number of adoptions at its centre.

Jeremy Sammut is a Senior Research Fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies and author of The Madness of Australian Child Protection: Why Adoption Will Rescue Australia’s Underclass Children.





  • matheus

    Very important text. Would the author, or someone who wish to comment, suggest a way for us, ordinary citizens, to help with this issue?

  • Solo

    For me, it’s always been you might be able to breed, but that doesn’t give you parenting ability. Some people just should not have children.

  • Patrick McCauley

    We have been so sold on ‘The Stolen Generation’ as evil … and we have forgotten how ‘successful’ many of those adoptions were … many are now part of the quickly expanding Aboriginal middle class … literate’ numerate and creative … well adjusted well brought up kids make for healthy citizens. Children need stable trustworthy heterosexual parents, not foster carers who are often in it only for the money or the convenience. Foster Care has been a disaster right from the start. Sociology has been destroyed by fuzzy, feminist, over breasted, thinking and has become a cesspit of failed leftist theory.

    • Jody

      Please do not disrupt the mythology of the victim industry by suggesting the obvious; ergo, that children can often do far better away from dysfunctional parents. And it’s also important to remember – this is NEVER about the welfare of children but the prioritizing and enshrinement of victimhood status for certain groups. Our narcissistic age on steroids. But narcissists need enablers and they’ve certainly got them now!!

      • Warty

        Not that it helps much, but I seem to recall that our generation kick started the ‘social, or sexual revolution’ that laid the groundwork for our current (stuffed up) society.
        I do recall your saying that you were considerably more socially responsible than I, back then, but it was a uniquely anti authoritarian, stupidly utopian age, and has had much to do with the number of dysfunctional families we now find today. Remember that old ‘age of Aquarius’ catch call? Wasn’t our generation called the ‘me generation’?
        Well, it seems to me that the regrettable ‘work’ that some of us engaged in (in my case, the early 70s) with its cultish rejection of anything to do with family, suburban living, religion, authority and sobriety is now bearing fruit, and the irony is that I detest what I am seeing, and am doing whatever I can to roll back the damage.

        • Jody

          I think you are right and I admire your honesty. This is exactly what we talked about last week with Brendan O’Neill – in Sydney for the IPA. One of the questioners said we could find a direct link to the 60’s ‘hippy’ culture and our current problems; and Brendan said he believed the Right had forfeited their values by failing to do anything to defend them. This is the void where pc and its attendant horrors were spawned.

          I was a Newcastle girl and rather 4 square. Catholic schools, father an executive at BHP and a 3 female siblings. Two in State schools and my father had his work cut out keeping them from the alter prematurely – only 50% successful!!! When I worked at the national broadcaster in the early 70s I saw a generation of decadence, contempt and smug anti-establishment behaviour which, frankly, bored me comatose and which I found strangely reminiscent of conformist group-think (something I’ve always despised). So, it surprises me not one iota that we have the troubles we have today.

          I found the ‘hippy’/drug generation ugly, to say the least of it. Today somebody like Barry Humphries ridicules the 1950s and 1960s in Australia by accusing them sarcastically of being “nice”, but I think he demonstrates a poor understanding of the link between ‘not nice’ and our current malaise.

    • mvgalak@bigpond.com

      Even more, the feminist idea that a male is just a source of a sperm and a father is not needed in the future child’s upbringing is one of the most toxic and destructive fallacies ever conceived by the male hating sisterhood.

      • rosross

        @ a propos,

        Radical feminism no more represents feminist philosophy than fanatical Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus represent their various religions.

        It is important to make that distinction because feminism was vital in terms of bringing change to society in regard to females, changes which they still do not have in less developed patriarchal cultures. Any study of history shows the horrific attitudes which subjugated women for thousands of years, and in some cultures, still do.

        There will always be some for whom the pendulum swings too far but to see feminism, a movement to gender equality, as a male-hating sisterhood, is to see all men as members of a patriarchal female-hating brotherhood. Having said that, where we erred is in not putting enough focus on what liberation for women would mean for our sons, because males, even more than females, were damaged by patriarchy and the abusive subjugation of females.

        There are always excesses, but it is erroneous to claim that males as merely a source of sperm and fathers not needed, is a feminist idea, or indeed, common amongst feminists.

        • mvgalak@bigpond.com

          Thanks for your response . I concede your point re. my interpretation of the feminist idea about males as a mere source of sperm. However, we do have to deal with the law of unintended consequences of the good intention of gender equality.
          First – the feminisation of the Western societies and , as a result, diminishing of the defence posture against , as you euphemistically described, “less advanced, patriarchal societies”.
          Second, the loss of the male family authority, which led to either low grade but long term competition for the supremacy within the family or a dramatic increase of divorces.
          Third – The rapid dissolution of the sanctity of marriage as a building block of the civilised society.
          Fourth – The politically correct Government actions to defend women from the, largely, non-existent threats brings the positive discrimination as well as negative one for males when it comes to child custody and the bizarre ideas of the female quotas in business, politics etc.
          This is, obviously, not a time or a place to discuss this question fully. However, my point is that despite being driven by the loftiest of ideas, feminism, as any other ideology, along with the positive ideas carries within itself the toxic and destructive seeds. Taken to absurd limits, these seeds can be dangerous.

  • bemartin39@bigpond.com

    It is a bitter irony that while some are prepared to sacrifice the welfare, even the lives of children for the interest of “family preservation”, others are working furiously to destroy the very institution of the family. To compound the irony, oftentimes they are the same people.

    • Lawrie Ayres

      You are no doubt referring to the Safe Schools programme supported by the Andrew’s and Baird’ governments. Supported also by those bastions of progressive dysfunction the ALP, Greens and many Liberals.

      We are called conspiracy freaks if we conclude that the left is hell bent on the destruction of the family and society through so called progressive policies but the evidence is far more convincing than that used to demonise fossil fuels. The biggest hurdle that rational people face is the hopelessness of the media to present all the news and to invite proper debate.

  • gcheyne@bigpond.net.au

    Jeremy has missed the boat: prevention is much better than cure.
    Child neglect and abuse would hardly be a problem if family planning programmes were in place. Teach the teenagers how to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and you will find that the really wanted child will be better looked after.
    And there is a bonus: “Family planning is the most cost-effective technology we have for the prevention of poverty” – UNFPA
    Why is it so hard?

    • mvgalak@bigpond.com

      It is hard because every child is a source of income, as simple as that.

  • mvgalak@bigpond.com

    We need a license to drive and , often, to practice various professions. Nobody needs a license to exercise the G-d-like ability to create a human being. When people talk about the crisis of the child welfare system – i beg to differ. We do have a crisis but this is not a crisis of a child welfare system. It is a crisis of a parental responsibility. Children are becoming damaged by their own irresponsible, indifferent and , often, violent families.Following the failed ideological model these children are remaining at the mercy of despicable adults , who insist on continuing to take care of these kids for narcissistic and pecuniary reasons. Not, I repeat, not out of love for these children. Irresponsible adults should lose the right to be parents. Children should be adopted out and given a stable, loving and, above all, safe home, not a tragic shuffle of temporary shelters. The so-called parent/s, who failed their parental responsibilities should be penalised and made to contribute to their children’s upkeep. The present system is a ready made medium of churning out personality disordered adults, many of which will become the future prison inmates and public mental health system professional inpatients. The failure to penalise irresponsible parents and to protect their mistreated children will cost us dearly in treasure, crime, drug abuse and mental disorders.

    • colroe

      I heartily agree. How many times, almost daily, we read of child abuse cases where the so called “stepfather” (read boyfriend) of the usually dysfunctional mother bashes or murders a little one, all in the name of “discipline”. Sadly this “discipline” is enforced by a brute who has possibly himself been raised in a violent family, and with no idea of love or compassion, elects to impose his sick idea of discipline on an infant. The mother, and then the real father, appear on television proclaiming the infant to be a “beautiful angel” or suchlike. Where was their care and concern for the beautiful angel when the child was being mistreated?

  • Warty

    Dr Sammut, I listened to your recent CIS presentation, where you had the space to go into greater detail regarding the causes of the social breakdown, leading to the significant number of dysfunctional families (single parent and otherwise). One of the things you mentioned was the preference amongst the political and cultural ‘elites’ to accept progressive social values rather than traditional ones, which would accomodate the more effective system of child adoption. As a precursor, that CIS explanation, in the context of the Nyland Report’s objection to child adoption, makes an awful lot of sense.
    The even greater social catastrophe in England, with the state’s social services supporting single mothers (to stay single mothers), does little to encourage any sense of ‘family’, and of course, the ‘progressive left’ actively works towards undermining any sense of traditional family, as does the whole concept of ‘no fault divorce’ which was introduced in 1975.
    And now we have gender fluidity to further muddy the waters. Little wonder some of the more elderly readers of Quadrant sometimes say: ‘I’m well out of this bloody mess’ or words to that effect.

  • rosross

    The Stolen Generation is a fabrication sourced in lies and racism and it has already doomed a generation and more of indigenous children to a miserable life. The Stolen Generation was always about ego, power and making money and so too are calls for Constitutional Change and ridiculous Treaties. All that matters are the lives of our children and we fail them at their cost and our peril.

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