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Adoption Deception, by Penny Mackieson.

June 6, 2016

Adoption Deception: A Personal and Professional Journey, by Penny Mackieson. Melbourne, Australia:  Spinifex Books, 2015

An impassioned statement about the dangers of an Australian policy that could put the needs of couples seeking to adopt children from other countries above the actual needs of the children involved.

Peggy Mackieson is an experienced social worker who has dealt professionally with problems surrounding international adoptions.  She herself was adopted as an infant and happily raised by loving and reliable couple.  She, however, is very aware of the problems children faced when removed from their parents and native surrounding even at birth.  She also understands the problems of mothers and other family members from whom a child is taken.  Her own knowledge and experience make her a devoted opponent of recent attempts by the Australian Prime Minister, policy makers and celebrities to loosen the restrictions which her nation has in place around international adoptions.

In Adoption Deception, Mackieson tells her own story and the chronology of Australian policies regarding adoption.  As late as the 1950s and 1960s, Australians were told that adopting Indigenous children, even those taken from their families by force, was the best solution to the country’s racial divided.  Recently, national apologies to those thus adopted have been made.  Yet, according to Mackieson, with the rise of a neo-liberal free-market Prime Minister, a new effort is underway to end restrictions in place to insure the rights of children being adopted, especially those adopted abroad.  In her view, the children are being treated as commodities, available to meet their prospective parents’ needs at the expense of their own.

Mackieson makes a strong, convincing case for restrictions to protect children.  In her book she includes much of her own correspondence supporting her position regarding adoption and related issues of surrogate pregnancies.  She advocates for children to be awarded Permanent Care Orders that would ensure adoptive parents the right to care for a child without the child surrendering her or his initial identity.  This seems to be particularly important when children are moved from one culture to another.  Her discussion makes me wish that my own country, the United States, had ethical protections in place to limit the abuses of a “baby market.”  At times, however, I felt her presentation of the problems with all adoption of children was somewhat absolutist.  Yet overall, I found her book a useful counter to the opposite claim that any adoption of a “disadvantaged” child is good for them.

I recommend this book to all those involved in discussions and decision-making about children potentially taken from their birth mothers.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2016 4:02 pm

    As the wife of an adopted child and the mother of an adopted child, I found your anaylsis of the book interesting. While racial differences were not involved for us, I am very aware of the impact on children who are adopted by families of another racial or national group. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • June 8, 2016 4:17 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I also read and reviewed a book about how both Australian and American authorities pushed for couples to adopt Indigenous children after World War II as the best way to solve racial problems. See my review The cover alone is worth a look.


  1. Adoption Deception: A Personal and Professional Journey – Adoptee Reading Resource

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