Did Australia Practice Forced Adoption for Unwed Mothers?

From the 1930s until the early 1980s, Australia practiced forced adoption for unwed mothers, a period referred to as the white stolen generation. Due to the stigma during the time for children born out of wedlock, some Australian hospitals believed that these children would be better off being placed with married couples. Single women were often drugged to force their signatures on adoption agreements or were deceived and told that their babies had died. The exact number of forced adoptions for unwed mothers during this time is not known, but there are estimates of as many as 250,000. In 2010, the first government apology was given by West Australian officials, and in 2013, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard issued an apology on behalf of the country as a whole.

More about adoption in Australia:

  • The number of annual adoptions in Australia reached its peak at almost 10,000 in 1972.

  • In the 1960s, 60% of all unwed mothers in Australia are estimated to have given their children up for adoption.

  • The Australian government pledged the equivalent of $11.5 million US Dollars for the victims of forced adoption.
More Info: naa.gov.au

Discussion Comments


I was about to say the same thing. B both are victims and both suffer their whole life. Both parties pay a high price in that the mothers never get the joy of watching their children grow up, of enjoying the milestones they make, first day of school, graduations, and the biggest of all, the birth of grandchildren.

The children may have been adopted by wonderful parents and given the best life one could ever hoped for. But is that enough to take the place of a biological mother? These adopted children will never know any of their biological relatives, and will have no biological connections of any kind. I'm sure these were closed adoptions, so what about now? Will they release information to anyone who wants it? I know some of the these 'reunions' never go as smooth as the fantasy, but shouldn't they have the option?


The victims? Who are the victims - the adopted children or the mothers who were forced to give their children up? Seems like both are victims.

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