WA Government to apologise for abusive, illegal adoption system

The West Australian today reports that the WA government may become the first State government to publicly acknowledge and fully apologise to all mothers and children forced into adoptions, and harmed by illegal adoption practices.

For decades in the mid twentieth century, State hospital and welfare systems engaged in abusive adoption practices, including getting unmarried women to sign relinquishment papers earlier than five days after the birth, and forcibly preventing mothers from seeing, touching, or naming their babies. These practices have been linked to post adoption trauma, even in situations where women may still have placed their babies for adoption.

The West continues:

Dr Hames is also likely to read an apology on behalf of the State Government either in Parliament or at a dedication ceremony opening the memorial at a yet to be determined location. Dr Hames said many women and families had been emotionally damaged and he wanted to help them heal.

“You look back on those attitudes of the day and wonder how we could be so harsh,” he said. “Things like taking children away from their mothers as soon as they were born and not letting them see or touch them. We are apologising in the same way as with the Stolen Generation, recognising that those practices . . . were ones that today wouldn’t be acceptable and that they caused considerable hurt and harm.” […]

Christine Cole, convenor of the NSW-based Apology Alliance which lobbies on the issue, said a memorial dedicated by a State health minister would be the most significant acknowledgment by authorities “probably anywhere in the world”.

“These adoptions happened for two key reasons,” she said. “First, it saved the State money because if a child was adopted they didn’t have to pay for foster care or mothers’ benefits. “The second was this eugenics-based notion that young women who gave birth out of wedlock were feeble minded and unfit mothers.”



Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, parenting, social justice, work and family

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1 reply

  1. recognising that those practices . . . were ones that today wouldn’t be acceptable and that they caused considerable hurt and harm.

    If only all apologies could actually acknowledge that hurt and harm has been caused.

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