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Adoption Approved. Despite wrongful removal at Birth

Adoption approved. Despite wrongful removal at Birth

From: The Australian May 31, 2010

THE NSW government's welfare agency seized a baby girl from her Chinese immigrant parents and, against their wishes, adopted her out to an Australian-born couple, prompting a judge to observe that the infant may have been "wrongly taken away".

The girl, who was born in NSW in March 2005, spent less than a day with her mother before being taken into custody by the NSW Department of Community Services on medical grounds.

Last month, the NSW Supreme Court awarded custody of the child to her adoptive parents, saying "even if the baby was wrongly taken away, that is not enough on its own" to warrant her return to her birth mother.

Court documents say the girl was born to a Chinese immigrant mother who speaks no English, and was described as "fearful of government and court processes".

Her baby was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a potentially life-threatening condition colloquially known as water on the brain.

The mother initially consented to an operation to insert a shunt to drain fluid, but then withdrew her permission. The court heard the medical team had "great difficulty" communicating with the baby's mother, "not only because of the language problem but from an attitude of severe mistrust".

"(She) took the view that immediate surgery was unnecessary and that the doctor should wait and see how the baby's condition developed," the court heard.

DOCS then intervened, taking the baby into its care so the operation could go ahead.

Four months later, when the baby was discharged from hospital, she was sent to live not with her mother but with foster parents. . They have cared for her since.

The court heard the girl has "various medical problems", including a developmental delay, but she "has thrived and is making very good progress" and has formed a close bond with her foster parents and their son, who was also adopted.

The couple applied to the NSW Supreme Court last month to adopt the girl, who has not seen her mother since the day after she was born.

Her father, who is also Chinese but speaks better English, has not seen her either.

The court heard the couple had been given "frequent opportunities" to see their baby, provided they agreed to be supervised by welfare workers.

They refused to attend those contact sessions on the grounds that a government department "had no right" to interfere in their lives.

Court documents suggest NSW Supreme Court judge George Palmer tried hard over many months to get the baby's mother to mount a legal challenge to a plan by DOCS to have the child adopted out.

Last October, when the girl was already four, he arranged for letters to be sent to the mother in Cantonese, saying she needed to "understand what was happening in court and how they should present (their) case".

The letter said the court "knows that you have difficulty in understanding English and court procedures (but) the decision about your daughter is very important so you should do your best to help the court to make the correct decision". The parents are asked about their relationship and income.

But Justice Palmer concluded that "every opportunity has been given to (the parents) to present a case for the return of the child" but they had declined to participate. He therefore gave the foster parents permission to adopt the girl, but warned that an appeal is still possible.

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 4:03 AM on Mar. 29, 2011 in Adoption

Answers (6)
  • This from a country that deliberatly tried to breed out the native race... why am i not surprised.... it's a disgusting attitude, and i feel so sorry for that mother and her child.

    Answer by Piskie at 4:06 AM on Mar. 29, 2011

  • I have my own views about CPS in general, that country, and CPS within that country. My god I feel sorry for them.

    Answer by Razelda at 4:15 AM on Mar. 29, 2011

  • Didn't anyone even just feel for the mom once. Other than the language barrier, it appears that they were inclined to look out to the child in the case of just giving it a medical treatment and making sure it wasn't going to have a problem to begin life. But surely they could have gotten a linguistic translator of emergent means.

    Answer by coffeeyum at 4:19 AM on Mar. 29, 2011

  • I have heard more than one birth mother tout the Australian system as a model for US reform. I wonder what they think about this.

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:38 AM on Mar. 29, 2011

  • This is so very sad. These parents were failed badly. It should not have taken this long either, they should have been provided an interpreter and this matter taken care of before the baby even left the hospital. I would bet that if communication was possible, the parents would never have lost custody in the first place

    Answer by susie703 at 3:12 PM on Mar. 29, 2011

  • I can say we are trained, in this country, for cultural issues. Some cultures have different degrees of trust in medical and authorities. And different cultural views on treament of certain medical issues. Add in a language barrier and it increases the compexity of the situation. I can honestly say I have always taken into consideration cultural issues, sometimes to the dismay of the schools I coordinate with, and am heart broken when others do not take in relevant cultural issues. My cocerns are nit only for the child and mother but of all potential cases where culture and language become barriers for access to fair and appropriate resources and treatment. I will say, with a heavy heart, I do experience situations where sterotypes are played out amoung all professionals. I have a hard time being an advocate and being professionally civil during these situations.

    Answer by frogdawg at 3:38 PM on Mar. 29, 2011

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