Following an 18-month inquiry, a parliamentary committee in Australia recommended that 150,000 women should receive a formal apology for actions committed against them during the 1980s in order to hide the faces of unwed mothers in the community. Forced adoptions – carried out under a state-sanctioned policy pursued until the 1980s – was called “a horror of our history” by one committee member.
The aim was to rid society of the stain of illegitimacy and relieve the state of the financial burden which the babies represented. They were given to middle-class married couples; so-called respectable people. Their young mothers have lived with the shame and the loss ever since. The women say they were pressured and deceived into signing consent forms, and in some cases, signatures were forged. The practice had the blessing of state governments, church organizations and adoption agencies.
In addition to an apology, the committee recommended that the government fund family tracing services and peer support groups for the victims. It also said that adoptees should be given new birth certificates, showing their real parents’ names, and should be compensated.
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