Requirements to be satisfied by applicants for adoption of a child

“The personality, age, emotional, physical and mental health, maturity, financial circumstances, general stability of character and the stability and quality of the relationship between the applicants and between the applicants and other family members, are such that he or she has the capacity to provide a secure and beneficial emotional and physical environment during a child’s upbringing until the child reaches social and emotional independence”*

Before I start, I just want everyone to know that I realise this is a controversial topic, but I think it’s one worth discussing. Intellectual discourse is appreciated, personal flaming is not.

What I want to talk about is restricting childbirth.

We require a licence to drive. We require a licence to go fishing. We require a licence to breed dogs. We do not require a licence to breed people.

I believe that raising a healthy child is the most difficult thing any person will ever attempt. I can’t even keep my fish alive. I would hate to attempt to raise a healthy, sane, intelligent, well balanced child, with little to no training, experience or firm understanding of what is going on. True, people have managed to raise relatively normal people for a hundred thousand years without any real regulation. Childbirth is the ultimate in unskilled labour. But for the vast majority of those years, people also had to go out and kill something to eat. We don’t do that anymore. The situation as it is today is that there are a great many people having children too young, with too little emotional resources or stability of their own, with too little support, or simply too little motivation and interest, to raise their children properly. Children raised in these damaging and often abusive family environments can often grow up to be disruptive, even dangerous to society, illiciting great cost, to the individual, and to society, sometimes in lives. We are the product of our environment. If we have a damaging environment, we can end up damaged.

In order to adopt a child, or even care for one intermittently, as in a fostering situation, tremendously demanding standards of behaviour, means and psychology must be met. Yet if you can pop one out yourself, you’re welcome to it. Hence, we come to the point. Should a requirement be introduced whereby prospective parents must pass a similar level of screening to prospective foster or adoptive parents?

Every other individual who comes into a formative contact with our children must pass very strict processes. Teachers, counsellors, child-care workers, hospital staff, babysitters . . . Why not parents, by far the strongest influence on a child’s upbringing?

I am not convinced of the necessity, but I can certainly appreciate the value in implementing a some sort of screening system as a prerequisite to childbirth. Everytime I see a child being abused - emotionally, verbally, even physically; everytime I see a parent with little or no control over, or interest in, their child; everytime I consider the difficulties inherent in the simple prospect of keeping a child happy, I wonder why this is allowed to happen.

We are hardly in the position of requiring excess population growth to maintain our society. If anything the reverse is true. Many issues we face today would be far less pressing with a smaller population base to deal with. This is true in the developed world, and even more applicable in the developing world. We have enough learning behind us to appreciate the damage ill-prepared parentage can wreak on someone’s childhood. I believe we are in a unique situation in human history, where we are at a sufficient level of understanding, technology and resources that we truely can learn how best to raise a child. And we can ensure that only those who do so are those who learn how.

The system would be one of provided education, training, and screening. If you wish to have a child, you are required to undertake a course of education, and be subjected to an objective assessment. The education would be provided to all and sundry, without any discrimination. It would be required for the parents, and strongly recommended (and provided free of charge) to any and all other family members. Following the completion of the assessment, on the basis thereof, a decision would be made as to whether the prospective parents are deemed suitable. If they are not, they are free to re-enter the course for as many times as necessary. Other circumstances such as past instances of child-abuse would have to be considered, with either far more stringent strictures in place, or possibly outright exclusion, dependent on severity, etc. People can change, and should be allowed the opportunity to do so.

Some interesting reading -
  • Victorian Adoption Regulations -
  • South-Australian Adoption Regulations -
  • State of Massachusetts Adoption Regulations -
  • Collection of personal accounts regarding pre and post adoption education classes -
  • New South Wales regulations regarding child care -
  • Queensland Government Child Care Regulation (1991) -

*Adoption Act 1984, Adoption Regulations 1998, State of Victoria, Part 6, Division 1, Section 35 - "Prescribed requirements for applicants" -