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, . . Unadoptable?
Every day in Melbourne a husband and wife take
a new baby into their home to enjoy love, care and a full life. Here Ron Testro and
photographer Jack Lawrence tell of those who are NOT WANTED . . .
|M Australia every year hundreds of babies-ofren
apparently quite normal-are born wearing the metaphorical tag: "Unadoptable."
Nobody wants them.
They are among the thousands of adorable Utile human beings who find their way into institutions.
Every adoption institute has its percentage of "unadoptables"
?-ehildrpn with er'inn\oA linnUc l»#»J U«»«J:*..
-1.IPMU.V.M rriiu ^iij/piuv! limps, poa nereairy,
blind, deaf, congenital hearts, mental
Yet. hundreds of brave Australians, people who just want to love a child,
no matter who It, is or how It is, DO adopt these chil- dren.
But still some children «ait. for parents who will
Tlie normal institution children who arc adopted are the lucky ones - the lov- able, cuâdlesome babies and toddlers, discarded by their natural parents, but wel- comed as .a "gift from heaven'' by married couples unable to have children of
Getting people to adopt noimal babies is not a diffi- cult task these days. There are more people wanting children than there are chil- dren to go round.
f Childless Joan and John i Drummond, after being | married nine years, went to I a Melbourne foundling hos | P'tal to adopt a baby.
I (Their names and namca
of other adopting couples j Brid babies have been
changed for this story.)
After weeks of inquiry into the Drummonds' back- ground, the institution found them eligible to adopt and
te?.,,thera to select
I their" baby. -
JÏ17 plcked R dark
Jiaired, dark-eyed 12
,mm0mths"old baby Biri, whose «miling eyes seemed to plead iron* her cot: "Please take
Later, the matron told "e couple to prepare .emsclves for a "bomb
Quietly and without dra Ks ^d-sclosed that the
nSeS Was an abo" »nïheirei wa¿ sllence' Joan
n1nh,0hl? °-"umnion(l were
PWnly shocked, Thev íiki
¿there and didn't XleTÍ
'"This is something you «» decide only for your. kimi." said the matron.
J,Jcave you here "lone jw when you want me you ««top 07i the window."
l/S, ml"utes of silence
aS (nC1 *, C-h,,ld'S ÍUt*-T
"as to be decided.
, «11 minutes in which a
m.couple, with the dual In Äc and jUfy thr***
iliv»,T were asked to
Would the baby, wlthln erifn pa,renU' be rele E« an JnsUtution, per gsto.remalnparentlessfor
«ard ,.M0t ,n a ncarl,y
"ara. will never know the ?
drama of those 10 min- utes, the doubls. the «averin g, alternating spasms of fear and cour-
Then came a knock at the window, and the young couple were standing there smiling.
"We'll take her." they said. Tliey had made their
A 14-year-old deaf
mute boy in one Melbourne in- stitution has waited nine
He is a Stale ward, and ill«- institution receives 12/0 a m eck for him.
The institution superin- tendent. BELIEVES the boy
is an orphan, and says in that time no one has visited
Who is i his mystery boy, whose past Is in the. shadows and whose future is a question mark?
He has never asked who his parents were, and the superintendent, because he doesn't know himself, has never told him.
In this city of li million people is there someone will- ing to helD a deaf mute boy who wants nothing more
SOME .time ago a
country woman selected the ugliest baby in an institution be- cause she felt "it should have a chance in life."
For weeks before taking him home she had been tell- ing friends that she was go- ing to adopt a baby.
A year later, not without a sense of humor, she met the matron again, and told the story of the baby's homecoming.
"For days neighbors and friends flocked in expecting to say the usual nice things about a pretty baby," she
"But one look and there was silence.
"They asked about his weight, health, anything at
"But not one comment about his looks."
couple wanted to adopt a little boy from a Melbourne foundling hospital.
They were told his mother was a mongol, then working
%nmí0/f*fLVED Lukc "cW and HarrY ore happy,
. tíiJr i J. cbildron hcrc- But each suffers from
mutai defect which
<$ Left: Smiling Mary in her party frock, and Janet both have their twisted feet braced in irons. Heavy burdens for two who haven't
known a mother's love.
0 Above: John's physical defects always stand in the way of his adoption into a happy, noisy, normal home; He waits for parents who
may never come.
as a servant in the institu- tion.
This didn't dissuade them. The matron even pointed the mother out. But they still stuck to their desire to adont the boy.
That was several years ajro. The boy is showing no signs of subnormality and Is growing up a con- tented, happy boy in the placid atmosphere of his
home. I A south or the Yarra ! couple, engaged in a small I business, adopted a cross- j eyed baby girl. I
They loved children, but j
at the time could afford to ' keep only one child.
Later their finances im- j proved, and they adopted a second child-this time
the first one's sister, also , cross-eyed.
That was two years ago, and the girls' eyes are now responding to corrective
rpHE story of Mike
X had not such a
Mike, aged three, was terribly deformed. The or- ganisation which had him felt it could not ask anyone to aceppt the sacrifice of adoption.
An illegitimate? Discarded by his parents? Little was known of him.
An officer of the organlsa t ion now gently brushes aside inquiries about him.
"It urns some time ago," she says, "and I can't re- member what his real name was and what institution he was sent to."
Where is Mike now? Is he "lost" for ali time in an institution? ~~~is Mike, deformed
and twisted, fated lo be
no more thanjm entry
line in a record book?
£ SOS'S record card in a Melbourne babies' home describes him as "shy but affectionate." He was a premature baby, weighing 2lb. 13oxs. He might become deaf as he
Vet, hear!-rending as it is, what can be done? What is the answer?
"Would the sacrifice of adoption be too great?
.There is no answer.
THERE is no cen- ¡
tral "clearing ; house" in Australia \
for adoptions, and there lies the weakness in our institu- tional adoption system.
If babies are not State wards, maternity hospitals and institutions of various religious denominations can
arrange adoptions indepen- dently.
This weakness in co- ordination means that no single authority really knows what babies are "on the market."
A Chinese couple in Syd- ney, after waiting some years, heard by the merest chance that there was a Chinese baby in a Mel- bourne institution.
New Australians, of course, often want babies of their own nationality.
One hospital has a 13 mouths-old baby girl with a cleft palate. Arrange- ments arc now being made for her to be adopted by a young married woman who ha_ a cleft palate
In America a clearing house for adoption vacan- cies has been set up and is successfully finding parents all over the country.
Four children, whose parents v.ric killed in a road accident, remained in an institution for years nriMiisc ihev loved one another fanatically and could no1 be soparalcd.
Eventually along came a couple who could afford to take four children.
But those children might not have had to slav in an institution for lons if there had been a central agency which knew the wants of all people seeking children.
Brothers and sisters are often sent to different in- stitutions where, living in different environments and seeing little, if anything, of each other, they grow apart.
There have been cases too many cases-of brother and sister growing up in separate institutions, each unaware of the other's exist-
BUT the institu-
tions are doing excellent work.
St. Joseph's Catholic foundling home in Broad- meadows, believed to be the biggest of its kind In the
? Southern Hemisnhere : the
Methodist Bables' Home. South Yarra: the Berry st. Foundling Hospital, East Melbourne; Anglican and Salvation Army homes, and the Children's Welfare De- partment are all battling with little public recogni- tion, to find homes for our unwanted babies.
Brave people who adopt defective chil- dren don't demand a gilt-edged guarantee, as if the child werc~a pure-bred calf.
This love blinds the new parents to any infirmity the child might have.
"Courage is not enough," says the confidential officer of one organisation who ha.' handled adoptions for years.
"There must be more titan dutii. There must be love And it must come from both parents."
They say they realise that if their own children had been born defective they would have had to put up with it. Some of them even feel there is less risk in ob- taining a baby "ready
After the first week or two the reaction is usually the same. Thcv phone or write back saying what a wonderful baby they have been given.
So brave parenthood brings bliss with it. . .