South Australia’s Nyland Royal Commission has recommended a staggering 260 changes to the state’s child protection services.
The sheer number of recommendations indicate a lack of strategic priorities that will address the root systemic reasons why the system fails too many children.
This is typified by the Nyland Report’s treatment of the key question of adoption.
In his 2015 report into the death of four-year-old Chloe Valentine, Coroner Mark Johns found that Chloe died because Families SA was obsessively focused on practicing ‘family preservation’ – on doing everything it could to keep even appallingly maltreated child with their abusive and neglectful families.
Hence the Coroner recommended that more children be removed earlier and permanently before they are harmed by their parents, and that the use of adoption be expanded to give more children safe and stable families for life.
Commissioner Nyland, however, rejected increasing the number of adoptions, based on the spurious notion that adoption is somehow not in children’s best interests.
This is impossible to fathom, given the major and well-documented harm the current system does to children.
But the welfare of children was a secondary consideration, at best.
Taking her cue from fanatical anti-adoption academic-activists, Nyland suggested adoption was actually all about the interests of the adults who want to ‘own’ adopted children.
Adoption, in Nyland’s words, is primarily a “means to satisfy the desire of adults to create or expand their families.”
This is monstrously absurd given the child welfare issues at stake. It is also a heartless attack on the motives of adoptive parents accused of being especially selfish.
This is ridiculous and mean spirited given that parents hardly decide to have kids naturally for entirely selfless reasons — let alone in the ‘best interests’ of their yet unborn children — but for a whole range of deeply personal — and biological — reasons.
Adoptive parents should not be held to a higher standard in an absurd effort to discredit adoption as an illegitimate practice. Adoption needs to be accepted for what it truly is — a legitimate way to form families when more adoptions could do so much good for so many children.
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