The business of adoption: past practices at the Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne

Journal article


Quirk, Christin. (2013). The business of adoption: past practices at the Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne. Lilith: A Feminist History Journal.
AuthorsQuirk, Christin
Abstract

In the period 1945-1975, over 45,000 adoptions were legalised in Victoria. With the demand for adoptable babies at its peak across Australia, up to 68 per cent of ex-nuptial births resulted in adoption. It was argued that adoption guaranteed the moral and social redemption of mother and child, with adoptive parents cast as benevolent and sympathetic. Professionals who facilitated adoption perpetuated the stigma attached to single motherhood by encouraging silence, secrecy and relinquishment. Drawing on economic and business concepts to emphasise the incentive-driven, transactional nature of the adoption industry in this period, this paper examines past adoption practices at the Royal Women’s Hospital (RWH) in Melbourne. This analysis reveals the persistence of market-like transactions, notwithstanding legislation that was introduced in the early twentieth century which intended to distance adoption practices from past discredited trade in babies.

Keywordsadoption
Year2013
JournalLilith: A Feminist History Journal
ISSN0813-8990
Web address (URL)http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=562688282660989;res=IELAPA
Open accessOpen access
Page range46 - 58
Research GroupSchool of Arts
Publisher's version
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