Marian Quartly (Lecturer in History, Monash University, Australia)
This book tells the history of adoption in Australia from its beginnings in the nineteenth century to its decline at the beginning of the twenty-first. The authors find that a market in babies has long existed. In the early years supply outstripped demand; needy babies were hard to place. Mid-twentieth century demand and supply grew together with adoption presented as the perfect solution to two social problems: infertility and illegitimacy. Supply declined in the 1970s and demand turned to new global markets. Now these markets are closing, but technology provides new opportunities and Australians are acquiring babies through the surrogacy markets of India and the United States. As the rate of adoptions in Australia falls to a historic low, and parliaments across the country are apologising to parents and babies for the pain caused by past practices, this book identifies an historical continuum between the past and the present and challenges the view that the best interests of the child can ever be protected in an environment where the market for babies is allowed to flourish.