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A "miracle" four years in the making

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* Kr E D ^ b R E wL! A oS d! *SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTHA “MIRACLE1 FOUR YEARS IN THE MAKINGAfter four years of fighting an insensitive and incompetent bureaucracy, Bridget and Rick Wood will adopt a child on Saturday, thanks to the efforts of Dr Bob Woods, Federal MP for Lowe and Shadow Minister for Health.Dr Woods will join Bridget and Rick and their relatives as they celebrate the arrival of a new and long awaited member into their family - a four month old baby boy. The celebration will take place at the residence of Bridget's sister-in-law, Margaret Ussfeller, at 27 Eccles Avenue in Ashfleld at 2.30pm on Saturday, September 7."It is a victory celebration for the Woods and all of us who have helped them fight red tape that would unfairly not allow them to adopt. Bridget and Rick have had a great deal of heart ache in their lives and I am so pleased to have played a part in helping them realise their dream of adopting a child," Dr Woods said."The amount of suffering the Woods have been subjected to by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) is horrible. It's shocking that an organisation meant to help people actually hurt them for years," Dr Woods said.In 1974, Bridget's natural child from her first marriage, Brendon, tragically died at 13 months old after accidentally falling from a bed. Long periods of depression followed for Bridget. About this time, she also became infertile. A divorce from her husband resulted in 1979. IVF treatment and microsurgery aimed at opening her tubes were attempted, but were unsuccessful.Brendon's accident would haunt Bridget and Rick, who Bridget married in 1981, as they began seeking adoption in 1989. They were Informed by the Department for Family and Community Services that although they were found to be excellent potential parents, they were ineligible for adoption due to 'the fact that a child sustained a mortal injury whilst in the care of Mrs Wood."In making up its mind, the Department for Family and Community Services completely ignored the findings of the 1974 coroner's report that found Brendon's accident to be totally accidental. It ignored reams of expert testimony that confirmed the death as a sad accident.Indeed, the FACS bureaucracy began to Ignore all evidence, including a letter by Dr HW Jarvis, Bridget's family doctor at the time of the accident, who writes: "There is no way that Bridget could be accused or be guilty of neglect and the sad tragedy that happened that day should never occur to anyone."-MORE-COMMONVVEALTHPARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY M IC AH


In 1989, after running into stonewalls everywhere and running up thousand of dollars of legal costs, Margaret Ussfeller, Bridget's sister-in-law, asked Dr Bob Woods to help with the prospective adoption.

"After I examined all the medical evidence, it seemed outrageous to me for FACS to decide that the Woods were not suitable adoptive parents," Dr Woods, a former cancer specialist, said.

"Additionally, as the Woods were trying to resolve their case in the courts, FACS was not even bothering to show up for court cases. This cost not only the Woods thousands of dollars, but the taxpayers as well," Dr Woods said.

In August 1990, Dr Woods succeeded in having the Department of Family and Community Services reconsider the Woods' case. But, the Department refused to assign a date for a new Panel of Review of the Woods' eligibility.

Finally, after more representations from Dr Woods and some four years after taking up their fight, the Woods were proclaimed eligible on December 13,1990.

"At that point, I started to push the Department to give the Woods preference. After all, they had been subjected to four years of needless trauma because of stubborn bureaucrats.

"Even then, the Woods were told that they would have to reapply again because the Korean adoption program had been closed down. If they wanted an Australian child, they were unbelievably told that they would have to jump through all the hoops againl Thankfully, we nipped that one In the bud," Dr Woods said.

"I am very pleased that the Woods' agony has been relieved, but how many others are being subjected to this kind of suffering by a bureaucracy not willing to look beyond the edge of its desks?" Dr Woods said.