The federal senate has agreed to an inquiry into the practice of forcible adoption in Australia between the 1940s and ’80s, supporting a motion by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert on November 15.
“Today’s vote starts to recognise the suffering that so many people have endured as a result of forced adoption policies,” Siewert said. “There is no doubt that many women were treated very badly as a result of these policies. Young and vulnerable mothers were pressured into adoptions, and often had to surrender their newborn children without being allowed to see them.
“For many mothers and children, the emotional and psychological damage of these policies continues, and will be felt for the rest of their lives. We must do all we can to address this.”
Calls for an inquiry into, and apology to the victims of forced adoption have been mounting on the wake of campaigns for justice for the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Many of the pretexts used for stealing babies from Aboriginal people were also used to steal babies from non-Aboriginal people, particularly those who were economically or socially marginalised.
Typically, the victims of forced adoption were young, unmarried women and their babies. Reactionary ideologies that cast women who had premarital sex as having sinned justified both a cruel official policy and unsympathetic treatment by medical staff and bureaucrats.
Submission to the inquiry must be sent to