Woman One wants baby. Can’t fall pregnant.
Woman Two falls pregnant. Doesn’t want baby.
Woman Two gives Woman One baby. Problem solved, right?
If only it was so easy!
A heated debate erupted when Tasmanian MLC Adriana Taylor put forward a proposal to see women considering abortion matched with couples wanting to adopt – the idea being that adoptive parents would financially support the birth mother for antenatal, delivery, postnatal and lost income costs. The biological mother could opt out at any point.
The proposal was withdrawn the next day due to other MLCs’ fears that the concurrent intense media speculation would taint the integrity of an inquiry into Tasmania’s adoption practices.
A tenuous excuse for a too-hard-basket topic methinks.
Thing is, like it or not, the conversation around Ms Taylor’s idea has already begun, and continues.
At the very least, the flurry of media scrutiny highlighted Tasmania’s abysmal adoption figures. In the 2012-13 year there were 13 adoptions in the state, of which only two were local with the remaining adopted from overseas or to people known to the child.
In 2012 there were 1009 Tasmanian children in state care. Another heart-wrenching figure.
And because bad news tends to come in threes, here’s another: about 1800 babies’ lives are terminated in utero each year in Tasmania (more abortions stats here).
Thirteen adoptions, 1009 children shuttled between carers and parents, 1800 babies dead before they see the light of day.
Is this the way we treat our children?
There are so many layers of need in the fragile circumstances represented in these figures. At-risk children. Infertile couples. Pre-birth children at risk of abortion. Women faced with unwanted pregnancy. Women and couples giving their child up for adoption.
There is trauma in every scenario, so how do we prioritise need?
Call me old-fashioned but I was taught that it’s our responsibility as adults to look out for the most vulnerable in society. Sometimes protecting the lives of these vulnerable children will mean sacrifices for adults.
At the moment, many children are the scapegoats of a culture that favours adults’ right to autonomy and parenthood.
There is so much room for improvement, the mind reels.
Ms Taylor’s short-lived proposal clearly wasn’t going to please everyone, and it’s unlikely any solution will completely rewind the high numbers of children suffering on our watch.
But to know that there are 1009 children in state care and 1800 aborted each year, with only two local adoptions – to know that and do nothing is an epic injustice.
Every number in these statistics is a child’s innocent face imploring someone, anyone, to provide protection, care and love.
Please, let’s have this inquiry into Tasmania’s adoption system.
A more robust and accessible adoption process has the potential to solve many of the care issues shaking Tasmania’s children, inside and outside the womb.
(Anyone interested in providing care to at-risk children can contact Glenhaven Care on (03) 6343 7551)
First published in The Examiner for Keeping the Faith column on Monday November 3, 2014.