Without Consent: Australia's past adoption practices
This exhibition brings to light a previously hidden aspect of Australiaâ€™s past. It has offered those affected by forced adoptions the opportunity to share their experiences â€“ some for the first time ever.
This exhibition brings to light a previously hidden aspect of Australia’s past. It has offered those affected by forced adoptions the opportunity to share their experiences – some for the first time ever.
It is estimated that at least 150,000 adoptions took place from the 1950s to the 1970s; a significant number of them were forced adoptions. Many of the women who had their babies taken were unmarried and, because of the stigma attached to unmarried mothers at the time, were often forced to live a lie for decades. For some, it was a secret they took to their graves.
The National Archives curated the exhibition and developed a website, following former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s national apology to those affected by forced adoptions. The exhibition aims to show the truth – that the babies taken for adoption were dearly loved and wanted by their parents.
One letter in the exhibition, from a mother to her son, read ‘I loved you so much it hurt, and I loved you much more than I loved myself; that was why I was prepared to sacrifice my happiness for yours’.
The exhibition is a tribute to the courage and generosity of those who volunteered to share their experiences and, in doing so, exposed this aspect of Australia’s history.
The companion website can be viewed at http://forcedadoptions.naa.gov.au/
A national touring exhibition developed and presented by the National Archives of Australia.
Assisted by the Australian Government through Visions of Australia.
Image credit: Matron and babies at Ngal-a Mothercraft and Training Home, Perth, 1966. A1200, L54726, National Archives Collection