The fantastic video “Out Of The Fog: Mothers Speak About Adoption” by producer/director Suzie Kidnap has been released on Youtube. I strongly recommend it. This is a landmark video about the natural mother’s experience.
Some great news that was published in the paper today is that a lawsuit has been filed by Sixties Scoop survivors, against the government that took them from their parents: Lawsuit filed for ‘Sixties Scoop’ kids”
Related to this, I wanted to share this with you a new article from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixties_Scoop.
The term Sixties Scoop was coined by Patrick Johnston in his 1983 report Native Children and the Child Welfare System. It refers to the Canadian practice, beginning in the 1960s and continuing until the late 1980s, of apprehending unusually high numbers of children of Aboriginal peoples in Canada and fostering or adopting them out, usually into white families..
Reder (2007) reports that the adult adoptees who were the subjects of this program have eloquently spoken out about their losses: loss of their cultural identity, lost contact with their natural families, barred access from medical histories, and for status Indian children the loss of their status 
This government policy was discontinued in the mid-’80s, after Ontario chiefs passed resolutions against it and a Manitoba judicial inquiry harshly condemned it.  This judicial inquiry was headed by Justice Edwin Kimelman, who published the File Review Report. Report of the Review Committee on Indian and Métis Adoptions and Placements  (also known as the Kimelman Report).
Use of the Term
The term “Sixties Scoop” has wide usage in Canadian media:
“A new report shines a light on the “sixties scoop,” where unusually high numbers of native children were put into foster care or adopted, usually by white families.  (CBC Radio Archives, 1993)
“Lawsuit filed for ‘Sixties Scoop’ kids,” (The Victoria Times Colonist, June 1, 2011) 
“The ‘Sixties Scoop’ is a term that refers to the phenomenon, beginning in the 1960s and carrying on until the 1980s, of unusually high numbers of children apprehended from their native families and fostered or adopted out, usually into white families…” (Reder, 2007) 
“Commonly referred to as the Sixties Scoop, the practice of removing large numbers of aboriginal children from their families and giving them over to white middle-class parents was discontinued in the mid-’80s..” (Eye Weekly, Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd.). 
“B.C. natives sue federal government for millions over ‘Sixties’ Scoop’.” (The Vancouver Sun, May 31, 2011)
Similar social developments in other countries
An event similar to the Sixties Scoop happened in Australia where Aboriginal children, sometimes referred to as the Stolen Generation, were removed from their families and placed into internment camps, orphanages and other institutions. A similar term, Baby Scoop Era refers to the period in United States history starting after the end of World War II and ending in 1972, characterized by an increased rate of pre-marital pregnancies over the preceding period, along with a higher rate of forced adoption.
- ^ Johnston, Patrick (1983). Native Children and the Child Welfare System. Publisher: Canadian Council on Social Development. Ottawa, Ontario
- ^ CBC Radio (March 12, 1983) “Stolen generations” Program: Our Native Land. Broadcast Date: March 12, 1983. http://archives.cbc.ca/programs/535-16036/page/1/
- ^ Lyons, T. (2000). “Stolen Nation,” in Eye Weekly, January 13, 2000. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.
- ^ Reder, Deanna. (2007). Indian re ACT(ions). For Every ACTion – There’s a Reaction. First Nations Studies Learning Object Model. University of British Columbia
- ^ Philp, Margaret (2002). “The Land of Lost Children”, The Globe and Mail, Saturday, December 21, 2002, http://www.fact.on.ca/news/news0212/gm021221a.htm
- ^ Crey, Ernie, & Fournier, Suzanne (1998). Stolen From Our Embrace. The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities. D&M Publishers Inc. ISBN 978-1-55054-661-3 Winner of the BC Book Prize Hubert-Evans Prize for Non-Fiction
- ^ Lyons, T. (2000). “Stolen Nation,” in Eye Weekly, January 13, 2000. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. http://www.cuckoografik.org/trained_tales/orp_pages/news/news5.html
- ^ Kimelman, Edwin (1984). File Review Report. Report of the Review Committee on Indian and Métis Adoptions and Placements. Winnipeg: Manitoba Community Services.
- ^ Chiefs of Ontario – UPDATE Preparation for Special Chiefs Assembly. 60s Scoop Litigation. Downloaded from http://www.nanlegal.on.ca/upload/documents/coo-60s-scoop-litigation-update-final.pdf
- ^ “Former CAS wards seek billions in lawsuit” Wawatay News, July 22, 2010, Volume 37, No. 15. http://www.wawataynews.ca/node/20094
- ^ Fournier, Suzanne (2011). “B.C. natives sue federal government for millions over ‘Sixties’ Scoop’.” The Vancouver Sun, May 31, 2011. Postmedia News.
- ^ CBC Radio Archives (Print Edition, March 16, 2011). “Stolen Generations” http://archives.cbc.ca/version_print.asp?page=1&IDLan=1&IDClip=16036
- ^ “Lawsuit filed for ‘Sixties Scoop’ kids,” The Victoria Times-Colonist, Wednesday, June 1, 2011, http://www.timescolonist.com/life/Lawsuit+filed+Sixties+Scoop+kids/4872693/story.html Accessed 1 June 2011.
- ^ Reder, Deanna. (2007). Indian reACT(ions). For Every ACTion – There’s a Reaction. First Nations Studies Learning Object Model. University of British Columbia
- ^ Lyons, T. (2000). “Stolen Nation,” in Eye Weekly, January 13, 2000. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.
- ^ The Vancouver Sun, May 31, 2011. Postmedia News.
- ^ The Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative
- ^ Fessler, A. (2006). The Girls Who Went Away; The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 1-59420-094-7
- Sixties Scoop Class Action Lawsuit
- The Stolen Generation, the 60’s Scoop
- The “Sixties Scoop,” Chapter 14 Child Welfare, Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba. Justice and the Aboriginal People. The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission
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This post was prompted by a thread on an adoption-related discussion board this morning. I wanted to share it here, because even though my thoughts on adoption and ethics might be known by my regular readers, some of my new readers may appreciate a summary.
“Adoption ethics” is a contradiction in terms.
Why? Because as long as adoption contains falsified birth records, coercion, reproductive exploitation, human rights abuse, and fraud, it is NOT ethical in the slightest. But one has to back up and examine the elements which constitute child adoption in order to see this. The only reason that most people accept modern day adoption and so few have questioned it is because or a long time it has been all around us as an accepted part of society. But, the same once held with domestic violence and child abuse (anyone else remember “Spare the rod and spoil the child’?). And, just like these ethically unacceptable acts, reproductive exploitation and coercion happens behind closed doors. But society can change.
Adoption, as it was invented in 1851 and practised ever since, has been institutionalized in Western nations in such a way that these following elements are inherent to it:
- Falsified birth records: Fabrication of a legal lie that the people who are adopting gave birth to the child. Forbidding the mother from filling out a birth record. In any other situation, intentional fabrication of a federal or state government record is a felony offence.
- Coercion — See the “Coercion checklist,” “Open Adoption: They knew it would work,” “Proof of Coercion in the Industry’s Own Words“, etc.” Coercion is ANY method that is intentionally employed in order to increase the percentage chance that the mother will surrender her baby. Includes pre-birth matching, separation of mother and baby at or near birth. To get an idea of what constitutes coercion, compare practices pre-adoption industry (1930s, 1940s) to practices once the Post-WWII adoption industry arose. Compare to practices in the U.K. (e.g. mother has 6 wks protection post-birth to recover and experience motherhood before signing) and Australia. The Trackers International survey of 1000 natural mothers found that 98% had been pressured to surrender their babies. That means only 2% who were NOT coerced!
- Fraud: Withholding vital information from the mother regarding social services and financial support that would have enabled her to keep her baby, withholding information or blatantly lying to her about the devastating emotional consequences of surrender for most mothers, convincing her that she is unworthy of keeping her baby and that the adoptive family are perfect and almost “heaven-sent.” Convincing her that parenting is overwhelming and that she is emotionally or financially incapable of doing it.
- Human Rights Abuse: Many articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but especially Article 25, which guarantees mothers the support and resources they need to keep their babies, and in effect guarantees babies the support and resources they need to keep their mothers! Also the recent guidelines for substitute care of the child published by the General Assembly in 2009.. We are ALL human beings. We are not dogs or pond scum. To treat us like animals, like livestock, is act of violence aganst the inherent dignity and personhood of each one of us.
- Reproductive exploitation : Just as bad as sexual exploitaiton. Why should it be considered any better, any more excusable?
- Human Trafficking (Baby Selling): Adoption is an industry that thrives because baby brokers profit from the exchange in human flesh. This is no different from slavery, where people “paid for” human beings to work as labourers for them. Similarly, in adoption, people “pay for” human beings to act as “offspring” for them. Children sell up for $50,000 or more, and this pricing does depend on race: white children are “worth more” than children of colour. Check out an online price-list (there are many) for buying yourself a child, where babies are euphemistically called “situations”:
“The following are a few situations available to our clients from the agencies we work with:
“African American baby boy due Oct. 5 in UT. Agency fees are 16K plus medical.
“Caucasian/African American baby girl due Oct. 17 in UT. Agency fees are 22,500 plus medical.
“Caucasian/African American baby boy due in Oct. Agency fees are 26,500 plus 4K in assistance to mom.
” Caucasian baby boy due Jan. 11 Agency fees are 30,500 plus medical”
Gee, in case #4 the mother even gets a cut of the profits!
The United Nations has even reacted with alarm over the sale of babies:
“During the course of 2002, the Special Rapporteur received many complaints relating to allegedly fraudulent adoption practices. Where such practices have the effect that the child becomes the object of a commercial transaction, the Special Rapporteur, like his predecessor, considers that such cases fall within the “sale” element of his mandate. The Special Rapporteur was shocked to learn of the plethora of human rights abuses which appear to permeate the adoption systems of many countries” (p. 25, “Rights of the Child: Report submitted by Mr. Juan Miguel Petit, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/92.“).
It is my serious opinion that adoption is SO flawed that it is impossible to reform. That is why I do not believe in “adoption reform.” What we need, instead, are laws that protect mothers and children from exploitation and coercion, from babies being sold like loaves of bread. We need provisions that are based on ethics, not on exploitation for profit.
Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/p9tLn-ju
I have always said that the theft of my baby was an illegal adoption. No adoption could be legal when it begins with an abduction, a baby being taken from a tied-down mother against her will, withheld from her forever more from that point, the choice to keep her baby robbed from her, the “decision” of adoption made by others but not herself.
So, in Western Australia, exiled mothers are going to receive an apology from the government for exactly the same practices that myself and tens of thousands of young and unwed Canadian mothers endured!
I will include the full article here, because I do not want readers to have to surf over to second site to see what I am talking about.
Of course, an apology does not make up for the fact that criminal acts and human rights violations were committed. For that, IMHO, the perpetrators should be brought to justice. There should be recompense for the victims, and the people who illegally obtained children for adoption purposes (the sole reason WHY these crimes were committed, to supply the market for healthy white infants wanted by infertile people who were deemed to deserve our children more than WE were!) should be treated in the exact same way as anyone in possession of stolen property. But an apology if it is actually an admission of guilt, is a good first step.
Unmarried mums get State apology
DANIEL EMERSON, The West Australian September 1, 2010, 6:32 am
The State’s apology to unmarried mothers illegally separated from their babies under harsh adoption practices is set to happen within weeks.
WA is to become the first State or Federal government worldwide to admit hospital and welfare authorities were wrong to immediately separate mothers from their babies after giving birth out of wedlock. Mothers from around Australia keen to hear the apology have been told it will be delivered in Parliament on October 19.
Experts say tens of thousands of WA babies were adopted illegally when their unmarried mothers were prevented from seeing, touching, naming or bonding with their children immediately after birth between the 1940s and the early 1980s.
Health Minister Kim Hames said the exact format of the apology was still being finalised but it would be “to unmarried mothers of adopted children who were adversely affected by past adoption practices”.
Christine Cole, of the NSW-based Apology Alliance, said it was also important for the Government to say sorry to the children taken. “They were denied their family of origin and the culture of that family,” she said.
(Note: This post is not directly adoption related, but pertains to another issue close to my heart, the mistreatment of First Nations peoples in Canada)
There are no words to describe the magnitude of the horrors that occurred during the 150 years of the residential school system (they were instituted in the 1840s, started winding down in the 1950s, and the last one only closed in 1996).
Some people who went to them talk about having “positive experiences,” but the horror stories of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse that took place in these “prisons for children” are overwhelming in number. Not only were children forceably taken from their families and forbidden to speak their native languages, but it was all part of a “cultural genocide” which had the purpose of trying to “eliminate Canada’s Indian problem.”
“I want to get rid of the Indian problem. Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed. They are a weird and waning race…ready to break out at any moment in savage dances; in wild and desperate orgies.” – Duncan Campbell Scott, Head of Indian Affairs, Canadian Government, 1920.
The researcher, activist and former minister Kevin Annett is a controversial figure, but no matter how you feel about him, I very much recommend his documentary “”UNREPENTANT: Kevin Annett and Canada’s Genocide” (January 2007). ” on his site “Hidden From History: The Canadian Genocide — Telling the Untold Story of the Genocide of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada”
It went beyond abuse — to murder and the withholding of proper medical care. At a time when tuberculosis was being successfully treated, some of these schools had a huge mortality rate. John Milroy, author of A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, has data indicating that at it’s peak, from 24% to 42% of the children in some residential schools died of it. This is quote from a small article in New Scientist (reprinted here)
” In 1907 Peter Bryce, a chief medical officer for the federal Department of Indian Affairs, recorded that 24 per cent of pupils at 15 schools had died of TB over 14 years. At one school, 63 per cent of the children died… Other documents show that officials knew death rates were high until the 1940s, Annett told New Scientist. They record children being admitted with active, contagious TB, with no quarantine or even ventilation in their rooms, the only ways to control TB before antibiotics. Former students say they slept in crowded dormitories with sick children, and were often hungry: hunger lowers immunity and exacerbates the spread of TB.”
But did news articles about a possible 28 mass graves found at residential schools ever made it into your local newspaper? (The list of locations, as compiled by the Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared Children is available here). (Annett writes about it here).
But, just like with adoption, a child and a parent were separated, often against their will. Sometimes parents talk about willingly sending the child to residential school as they thought it would help the child get a good education and good care. Sometimes former residential school students speak about having had a good residential school experience. But, just like with adoption, we must listen to the stories of those who suffered at the hands of people in positions of trust and authority who forcibly separated families against their will, those who were abused, those who suffered trauma for which there may be no recovery.
And, to quote the dedication on the T&RC website,
“For the child taken. For the parent left behind.”
1) Further reading: “‘Aggressive Assimilation’: A history of residential schools in Canada – FAQs on residential schools and compensation,” CBC News, June 14, 2010.
2) The end of residential schools did not spell the end of the en masse removal of First Nations children from their families. As they closed, the “Sixties Scoop” began, lasting well into the 1980s. For more information, see “Stolen Nation,” “Aboriginal Justice Inquiry – The Sixties Scoop,” “The Sixties Scoop: How Canada’s ‘Best Intentions’ Proved Catastrophic,” Native Children and the Child Welfare System by Patrick Johnston, and Stolen From Our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities by Ernie Crey and Suzanne Fournier.
“What is coercion?” This question was asked recently in an adoption-related forum, by someone unfamiliar with the idea that mothers may not want to surrender their babies for adoption. Someone who has meekly accepted adoption industry brainwashing and never questioned the notion that mothers’ don’t willingly abandon their children hither, thither, and yon.
Ever since the Post World-War II demand for newborn infants arose, and the social work profession decided to meet that demand by taking the babies of vulnerable mothers, coercion has formed a large part of adoption practice. You can read all about it in many pages on the internet. Origins Canada has a collection of articles about coercion, including the coercion checklist I created from the true experiences of mothers I had got to know in support groups. You can also read about Baby Scoop Era practices in the U.S. and what excuses baby brokers used for their abuse of mothers and abduction of infants. You can pick up a copy of Ann Fessler’s book The Girls Who Went Away and read first-hand accounts from the mothers incarcerated in maternity prisons, which were little more than baby farms, who knew they would never be allowed to leave with their babies. Or you can read mothers’ stories on the Exiled Mothers and Origins Canada sites. You can look at the many years of research, the millions of dollars in federal tax money, put towards inventing new methods to separate mothers from their beloved newborn infants: techniques such as open adoption, taking mothers away from their support system and putting them into maternity homes because it will more than double the rate of surrender (Namerow, Kalmuss, & Cushman, 1993), and research in which blindfolded regressed “volunteers” were forced to relive the trauma of their surrender in order to find out what coercion worked best. One of these volunteers committed suicide after her experience.
But what is a good one or two sentence definition that sums of what constitutes coercion in adoption practice? I thought it may be useful to invite feedback on one such possible definition:
“Coercion” includes any practice specifically designed and intended to either ensure — or significantly increase the odds — that a mother will surrender her baby for adoption.
“Coercion” describes any practice designed to remove a mother’s freedom of choice by the use of influence, persuasion, fraud, or duress. A coerced “choice’ is not a “choice” at all.
Update: This article, from March 2010, ends with a proposed possible definition of coercion. This short description was taken and expanded upon in a later article: “The Definition of Adoption Coercion.“
- Adoption “Choice” – A Response to a Mother
- Adoption Coercion in Black and White
- Adoption: “Studies on How to Take Babies”
- An “Apology” for Abduction
- The Basic Facts of Pre-Birth Adoption Matching
- They admit it was illegal!
- This is what it’s like.
- “What Constitutes Coercion?” (By “Write-A-Holic”)
Same URL, same blog, same author … but yes, a different name. Of course, i’m waffling on it. What should I name it?
Thank you, dear readers for your suggestions, and I am open to hearing more of them. I have not completely settled on “Adoption Critique” for the name of this blog. There are many other options:
… Adoption Voice?
… Adoption Trauma Survivor?
… Adoption Words?
… Adoption Critic?
So, what do you think? Do you like “Adoption Critique”? Is something else better?
I thought it was better than “Adoption Analysis” (boring?) 🙂
So, your feedback is always invited.
…. Ten years ago today, our reunion. We hugged for the very first time. I got to touch him for the first time. That right, the right that all other mothers take for granted, the right to hold and hug their babies, had been stripped from me — stolen from me — the moment he was born.