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Australian Prime Minister Apologizes For Forced Adoption Policy

NPR icon by Dana Farrington
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Morne de Klerk

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has formally apologized for the forced adoptions that took place in the country from the late-1950s to the 1970s. The BBC reports:

"Tens of thousands of babies of unmarried, mostly teenage mothers, were thought to have been taken by the state and given to childless married couples.

"Many women said they were coerced into signing away their children."

In her statement at Parliament House in Canberra, Gillard pledged $5 million in support services for victims, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reports. An additional $1.5 million will go toward a special exhibition in the National Archives.

"By saying sorry, we can correct the historical record. We can declare that these mothers did nothing wrong, that you loved your children and you always will," Gillard said.

As Eyder previously reported, an Australian Senate committee issued a report in February 2012 that urged the country to apologize for the practice. He notes testimony found in chapter 3 of the lengthy report, including this example:

"Many women were forced to live in 'maternity homes' until their delivery. Once in the hospital, many of them described being tied to a bed. Here's how one woman described the experience:

" 'I first knew something was wrong when a pillow was placed over my face during the birth, so that I couldn't see the child during the birth.' "

ABC Open is hosting a project called "Separated" to collect photos and stories about the policy. One submission shows a sketch of a baby, which the contributor says is of her newborn just before she was taken away for adoption in 1964.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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