Midwife says she acted appropriately

A Central Otago midwife charged with professional misconduct believed she had acted entirely appropriately in suggesting her family members as potential adoptive parents for her client's baby, a Health Prac-titioners Disciplinary Tribunal heard in Alexandra yesterday.

"It would have been remiss of me in my obligation to promote [the mother's] welfare if I had not let her know that [my family members] were wishing to adopt a child," the midwife said.

Her name is suppressed in the interim and the names of the teenage mother and father, the baby, and the prospective adoptive parents are all permanently suppressed.

The hearing began on Tuesday before a five-person tribunal, chaired by Bruce Corkill QC, and is expected to conclude today.

The charges are that while continuing to act as the teenager's midwife between November 2006 and January 2007, the woman failed to act in the best interests of her client by initiating, promoting, progressing and managing a private adoption with family members as prospective parents.

She was alleged to have promoted her own interests and failed to respond to the social, psychological and emotional needs of the mother-to-be.

The Midwifery Council of New Zealand's Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) determined the complaint should be heard by the tribunal.

Three social workers and the midwife gave evidence yesterday.

The midwife said through her discussions with her client and the client's family, she knew the girl was considering adoption.

She contacted a registered social worker who was at the Department of Child Youth and Family Services (CYF) in Dunedin at that time, Elizabeth Liddell.

Later the midwife contacted family members whom she thought might be interested in adopting the baby.

After she had mentioned their names to the mother-to-be, she took no further part in any adoption discussions, she said.

"I cared for [the mother] as I would for any pregnant woman referred to me. I certainly did not promote my own personal interests."

She believed she had responded to all her client's needs and had offered the girl the chance to change her midwife, before the delivery.

However, there was a practical difficulty in locating another midwife in the area who could take over, she said.

In the end, the girl had decided against adoption and she "fully supported" her in that choice.

During cross-examination by the counsel for the PCC, Matthew McClelland, the midwife agreed she had arranged a visit between her family members and the mother-to-be.

It was a "social visit," the woman said, and had been sought by the girl and her family.

"She'd made no decision [about adoption] at that stage but she had mentioned wanting to meet up [with the prospective parents]."

Mr McClelland said the people had not been approved by CYF as prospective adoptive parents and suggested it was unfair to present them to the mother-to-be, knowing they might not be able to adopt the child.

The midwife said it would be "more harmful" for the pregnant woman not to have had the chance to meet them.

A Central Otago Health Services medical social worker, Sharon Robertson, gave evidence that she believed it was unethical for a midwife to be involved in a potential adoption and midwifery at the same time, so she complained to the Midwifery Council of New Zealand.

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