Thursday, March 1, 2012

Apology Recommended

A Senate committee in Australia has recommended the country apologize for forced adoptions during that country's Baby Scoop Era:
A Senate committee in Australia is asking the country to apologize for its past policy of forced adoptions.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, thousands of unwed mothers were coerced into giving up their children. The committee talked to hundreds of mothers since its inquiy started in 2010.

The AP reports that about 100 mothers who gave up babies sat in the Senate public gallery as the committee presented its report today.

"If it wasn't illegal, it was unethical," committee chairwoman Sen. Rachel Siewert said, according to the AP. "The evidence ... tells the accounts of mothers and fathers who were pressured into giving up their babies by their families, by institutions — both state and territory and private institutions — by social workers, doctors, nurses and those who they rightly expected to have helped them."

The BBC reports that many of organizations that took part in the forced adoptions have apologized, but the victims want the government to issue a formal apology of the kind it issued in 2008 to indigenous people, over the systematic suffering they had undergone.
You can read the Senate committee's report here. What strikes me most vividly is the parallels between the Australian stories of force, coercion and stigma in this report and the American stories of force, coercion and stigma in Anne Fessler's powerful book, The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade.

And who's holding their breath for an American government apology for the Baby Scoop Era?

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