Gypsy Creams

Poor Worried Jane

Woman's Weekly / 11th July 1969

Yep, it’s another tantalizing problem which we don’t have access to! What on earth happened to poor Worried Jane? Another letter which confuses me is the question from an unmarried mother about adopting her own child after the father clearly left her high and dry. I’m going to have to page friend of the site Kif; did unmarried mothers not have automatic custody of their children, or has she given up the child to the local authority and is trying to get it back? It’s not clear.

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Kif Bowden-Smith on 12 January 2012 @ 7pm

In essence, most of the discrimination had been swept away in the Adoption Act 1958, but society’s attitudes hadn’t and, crucially, the majority of the rights (as we would see it now) remained with the father. If the father of a “bastard” subsequently married, he could easily adopt the child he’d had with someone he hadn’t married; she would have many more hurdles to jump in getting “his” child adopted if she married a man “willing to take on” her illegitimate child. In theory, the 1958 Act made all rights joint rights. The courts didn’t always interpret it that way.

To avoid this, she could adopt her own child, removing the father from the picture – and absolving him from maintenance too. That was the choice: get maintenance but risk losing the child, or do without the maintenance but be assured you couldn’t lose the child.

Later Adoption Acts (1968, in force in 1970, and 1976 in force in 1977) began the process of putting the child first, although it wasn’t until 1988 that the law started to care ONLY about the child and rule parents’ feelings, either way, out of the judgment.

Tanya Jones on 13 January 2012 @ 3pm

Thanks, Kif, I had a feeling you’d come up trumps! They’re sobering facts, and certainly brings more context to some families I knew growing up.

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