Anglican Church apology for forced adoption in Australia

12 Sep

Reported in the The Church of England Newspaper (…

Australian church apology for forced adoptions

The Diocese of Brisbane has offered its apology to those harmed by forced adoptions.

The diocese “sincerely apologises to the mothers, fathers and babies, now adults, who have experienced hurt, distress and harm as a result of past forced adoption practices in homes which operated in the name of the Church. We are aware that these practices occurred at St Mary’s Home at Toowong and the Church of England Women’s Refuge in Spring Hill,” the statement printed on the diocesan website said.

An Australian Senate inquiry found forced adoptions were widespread across Australia from the 1950s to the 1970s for unwed or unfit mothers. In February the senate recommended church agencies, the government and other entities involved in coercing unwed mothers to give up their children for adoption offer an apology for their actions.


It was “with deep sadness and regret, this Diocese acknowledges that mothers suffered emotional trauma and abuse in these adoption processes. We apologise that they were subjected to shame, isolation and humiliation while in the care of homes operated by the Anglican Church. The Church acknowledges that the resulting grief and loss for both parents and children is ongoing and significant.”

From the Anglican Diocese in Brisbane, Anglican Church of Australia you can read the actual written apology dated 31 August 2012.

Apology to survivors of historic forced adoption practices and policies

From everything I have read, the practices in Australia mirrored those in New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Spain, the USA, and elsewhere.  Acknowledging and admitting the mistakes and actions of the past, and the harm done, is the first step to making a better future, a different future.  A future where anytime someone is tempted to wander down the slippery slope to coercion – they will be reminded it is wrong, or others will tell them it is wrong.  A future where Best Practices requires non-directive counseling for mothers by counselors who have no stake in adoption, or whether the mother chooses parenting or adoption.  All the countries that have this in their history – need to step up to the plate and do the right thing, and acknowledge their part in it.


Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Adoption, Ethics


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2 responses to “Anglican Church apology for forced adoption in Australia

  1. cb

    December 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I thought you might find this article interesting from 1929. One can see how things changed between then and the 1950-70s:


  2. cb

    December 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    The following is an excerpt from a history of NZ in the 1940s in regards to the organisation that arranged my adoption in the 1960s.

    “In Auckland, two small-scale organisations for the aid of unmarried mothers came into being. In September 1943 the Motherhood of Man movement was formed by a group of men and women keen to enlist public support for women alone and in difficulties with children, and in particular to help those who wished to keep their babies instead of having them adopted. It had comprehensive plans for a home and crèeche, coping both with unmarried mothers and those who needed daytime care for their babies: the children would be tended, under trained supervision, by the mothers-in-waiting who would thus receive good training. Those who wished to keep their babies would work during the day, returning to them in the evening at the home, if they did not live elsewhere. The movement hoped to establish several such homes, each taking about 20 women. It was, said its secretary on 23 October, ‘an adventure with a vision’, hoping to make a stand for a better way of life, with a wide-ranging educational programme through films and literature under the guiding spirit of Christianity. Donations of money were sought, and also clothes and accessories for mothers and babies. By January 1944 Motherhood of Man had city headquarters for interviewing applicants. In its first four months, 61 expectant mothers had sought advice and 41 other women had made general inquiries; 9 adoptions had been arranged and foster parents were sought for 18 expected babies. Baby clothes had been given to destitute mothers, and fathers of motherless children had also been given aid and advice. Its home remained an aspiration, but it continued to give practical help with advice and organisation. For instance, in January 1945 it advertised: ‘Deserted single girl. Mothers receive no maintenance or social security benefits for babies; domestic employment wanted where child no objection; country or town. Motherhood of Man (Inc).”

    As you can see from above, the keeping of babies was greatly encouraged in the mid 1940s by the organisation. As one can see, they helped with childcare, finding jobs and finding places to live.

    In the 1960s, they had the totally opposite approach, none of those things were available and the vast majority were adopted. I have no idea if the 1940s approach would have made any difference in my case if it had been available in the 60s but at least the girls in the 1940s seemed to have a choice of options if they sought help and fairly obviously the counselling was different as well.



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