' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Catholic church apologizes for forced adoptions in Australia

Monday, July 25, 2011

Catholic church apologizes for forced adoptions in Australia

Why was I adopted? That's the question Jane wrote so well about in her previous post,* and while neither she nor I were tied down during delivery, nor did we sign surrender papers immediately after when we were still under the influence of drugs, many mothers endured such a fate elsewhere in the world. Apparently this was common practice
in Australia for decades. In recent years, official apologies for forced adoptions have been springing forth from that nation, and today came a fresh one, this time from the Catholic Church.

Catholic Health Australia, the largest nongovernment hospital operator in Australia, released an official apology to the women hurt by the draconian adoption practices that amounted to baby-snatching. "These practices of the past are no longer tolerated, nor allowed by today's law, and are deeply regrettable," read a statement from Catholic Health Australia chief executive Martin Laverty. The statement noted that taking illegitimate children--despite the wishes of the mother--to give to married couples was "regrettably common" from the 1950s to the 1970s. Damn straight.

The statement acknowledged the "pain of separation and loss felt" by affected families. "For this pain, we are genuinely sorry," it said. Laverty added that he hoped the apology would "speed up the federal government into action" to establish a national program to help mothers and children who were harmed by the forced separations.

All this is nice, I say to myself, but what gnaws at my heart is how much unnecessary pain and lifelong grief was inflicted not only on the birth mothers, but also the adopted children--now adults--who were forced to grow up in families where they did not fit. For some, it was not so traumatic or difficult, as some have come here to tell us; for others. we know it was. The apology is nice--that's the best word for it that comes to mind--but there is no real compensation for years lost, and lives ruined. In the video below, the reporter says that up for half of the (birth) mothers whose children were taken did not go on to have other children. Adoption is the pain that goes on giving.

In 2010, the Western Australia Parliament issued an apology to mothers; the federal government apologized for the whole taking of the aboriginal children in 2008. Will we ever see anything remotely like this in America? Don't hold your breath--lorraine
* Adoptees ask: "Why Was I Given Away?"
See also: Adoption: Aussies and US 

On another note, you will notice today that we became part of the Blogher network and will be running ads in the sidebar. I am sure that our regular readers understand what a great deal of time goes into keeping First Mother Forum fresh and informative, and except for a generous gift from one of our readers, it so far has been a labor of love (and sometimes frustration)!  So far, the Blogher ad community seems to have the kinds of ads that I find acceptable--for services and goods that appeal to all women. As an added plus, the iVillage community is able to showcase First Mother Forum and our message in ways we cannot do ourselves. And the point of the blog is to reach beyond a small group of activists and reach the wider world. I have sometimes noticed a Blogher blog on our issues in the search function at the bottom of the page.

The remuneration from the Amazon ads have not yet approached a hundred dollars and so, choosing to receive a check rather than a direct deposit, no money from those ads have yet crossed our threshold. Those ads may now appear in the comment section, as I think it is a service to point out books and movies that we like. We tried Google ads once, but they ended up being for adoption agencies and search firms. I am not against search firms per se, but I have heard from several unhappy customers of their services, as they may take clients who do not have enough real information to make an honest adoptee/birth mother/father search possible. So...do check out our ads.


  1. The catholic church caught again in scandal when will this stop. What else two criminal acts and of course they can apologize and all is forgotten. Too bad mothers can't walk away and forget! What about adoptees that suffered? Oh, the church made a buck off of women and their babies.
    I don't care what religion it so it's criminal!!!

    Sorry? Too little to late!

    Australia is way ahead of adoption hungry United States who still taking babies with fine tuned "open" adoption with the good old fashioned adoption of sealing records to boot.

  2. "Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey says he has "little evidence" of forced adoption practices in Catholic hospitals despite a national apology delivered by the health arm of the Catholic Church yesterday for "unethical or unlawful" adoption practices of the past.
    The Archbishop's comments have angered groups working for the rights of women and children separated through forced adoptions and fly in the face of an official apology for past adoption practices made by the State Government in October last year."

    More here:

  3. 'official apologies for forced adoptions have been springing forth from that nation, and today came a fresh one, this time from the Catholic Church'
    Just to be clear the Federal Government apologised to the Stolen Generation, the child migrants and the WA Government apologised to the mothers of forced adoption.This latest apology from an arm of the church is not apology by the Church as a whole, from the place where the buck stops.As such it may or may not be accpeted by mothers that remains to be seen.Adult adoptees were not mentioned, those of us who had a life sentence, the products of fored adoption, the babies mentioned in passing.The inquiry into forced adoption likewise is not about adoptees.If it results in an apology to mothers well and good, but adoptees will clearly have to start shouting louder and longer.'Ungrateful bastards'? It seems so!

  4. I wonder if the Mormon church will ever do the same....meh..who am I kidding?

  5. I wonder what it is that makes it possible for the Catholic Church to issue apologies in Australia but not in the US. Is it that the industry pockets are so much deeper here? Where there's money to be made, why apologize?

    Linda, I think you're right. I would bet that we're more likely to hear an apology from the Catholic Bishops in the US than we would be from the LDS hierarchy. We need to get the South Park team to write a scathing musical about LDS and adoption.

    Sometimes I feel sick living in the US and being a commodity in one of the dirtiest capitalistic schemes around. Adoption took my identity and my voice, all in the name of "protecting" my mother from her "ruined" reputation and "saving" me from the life of a bastard while making the adoption agency thousands of dollars. Such a nice story of redemption, wrapped up in pretty lies. And no, I don't feel grateful at all.

  6. Discouraging to see that Archbishop Hickey is just as much a craven liar and proponent of covering and denying the Church's misdeeds and crimes as our own here in NJ, and church Hierarchy right up to the Vatican all over the world.

    This is much the same way they deal with the world-wide pedophile and abuse scandal, deny, lie, cover up, and then finally issue some weak apology. Not sure how to feel about this, as I am glad that some Catholic officials did apologize in Australia. It does mean something to have them admit what they did, and that is was wrong. But for the Archbishop to issue a statement denying the abuse now, just seems too much like business as usual for Bishops.

    Do you all know about the Vatican letter that was uncovered that was sent to the Irish Bishops ordering them NOT to report pedophiles and abusers to the civil authorities? This is world-wide rot and corruption in the leadership of the Church.

  7. Well, the Brits aren't sorry.
    Martin Narey, the former head of
    Barnardo's (a notorious adoption
    center) has been put in
    charge of adoptions for the UK by the Conservatives. He doesn't think keeping a child in the family is useful. What next? Read this and see 50 yars of progress die.


  8. SameOld: That is one shocking, yet informational, article I just skimmed about Martin Narey. IS THAT THE BEST THE UK COULD DO? The ex-head of the prison service now dipping in children's care and adoptions? What's he gonna' do? Put families that don't measure up into gas chambers? Like Hitler did to gays, and others. [I'm losing respect for the Brits.] Say it isn't so.

    Narey says his new role as the adoption tsar will see him work five or six days a month, at a "very modest" rate of £540 a day. [How much is that?]

    He says, "I've shelved some much more lucrative work to do this." Aaawww.

    That's very interesting. I've heard so many adoption-adorers say that! A particular, young, adopter comes to mind who ALSO said that she recently "SHELVED SOME MUCH MORE LUCRATIVE WORK" in public relations to start a non-profit through which she gives grants to needy prospective adopters so they can adopt more easily.

    A few weeks ago this adopter and lover of more menial, less lucrative, labor was nominated for CNN's "Hero of the Year" award and her story was plastered every hour on CNN about the good work she does in separating vulnerable families.

    I nominated Joe Soll in 2008, or 2009, for the same CNN "Hero of the Year" award and I didn't hear a peep about us from who the Gifts are haughtily finagled! Even though I knew that nobody cared about us; I thought well, just perhaps, we might get some media attention for our cause and pain. Not yet! But soon!

  9. Caleigh:

    What's this woman's name so I can look her up?

  10. Mrs M said -'I wonder what it is that makes it possible for the Catholic Church to issue apologies in Australia but not in the US. Is it that the industry pockets are so much deeper here? Where there's money to be made, why apologize?'
    Here in Aus those of us who were the products of forced adoptions often, as in my case, came free!There was no industry as such and never will be an industry as you suffer elsewhere.As for the rest of the answer let's just say it's complicated and not for this place.Sadly here there is a move towards American style adoption. led by fundies and with Dan Cruver's encouragement!
    While domestic adoption is nil in my State there is a move for the adoption of more 'orphans' by the previously mentioned.

  11. The pound to dollar exchange rate is 1.64 so it is $885.60 per day.

    The Conservatives want to destroy their safety nets also. They have contempt for all. Putting a prison warden in charge of adoption is so sensible. Logical. Good grief. As the article states, expertise at anything is sneered at.

  12. I'm so discombobulated! I made a mistake! Unless it was the computer technology; it's not always perfect.

    Please hurry and see MY ADDENDUM [my last comment] dated July 26, 2011, 7:12 PM, under "Adoptees ask: 'Why Was I Given Away?'"

    The aforementioned ADDENDUM belongs under here, "Catholic Church apologizes for forced adoptions in Australia." It's my answer to SameOld's fantastic comment.

    Just click on my name above that comment if you want to vomit! I made it easy for you "guys."

  13. Caleigh,

    Re-post your comment here and we will delete it from the "adoptees ask" post.

  14. LORRAINE: The arrogant, entitled, adopter's name is Becky Fawcett.

    You know, I always want to say something that really bothers me. How do these people, like Fawcett, flaunt and rejoice over taking other people's children right in the media, like she does in her video, hurting the feelings of all the viewing families that have been crudely separated via adoption? How does CNN and the rest of the media do that? Where is the respect and empathy? Have they no shame?

    For example, the media respects our fallen troops, as they should. The media wouldn't dream of flaunting and rejoicing over all those troops that survive - continually shoving survivors joyously in viewers' faces. If anything, the fallen are revered more in the media, not the survivors.

    Conversely -

    The media doesn't respect moms and their families who have lost kids to adoption because the media views us much like society-at-large views us - you know the stereotype: We're viewed as powerless trailer-park trash! People don't even know about us! But guess what - they will!

    We must DEMAND respect! I see it as much the same as the feminists' fight in the 1960s. Yes, we can!

  15. MS. MARGINALIA: Thank you for those kind, encouraging, words! It's a shame that only now am I learning to ask for what I need and I'm learning to do so through FMF; there were no such venues heretofore.

    ADDENDUM to previous comment in which I spoke of the proliferation of adoption-adorers who leave lucrative careers to go into the lowly, less lucrative, business of adoption promotion. The example I gave can be reached at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/?iref=allsearch

    Once on the CNN page, please look on the left side under "CNN Heroes Videos," scroll down, and click on "CNN Hero: Becky Fawcett." She avers, "We believe in families. Period."

    Please click on my name and see if the link works. Also, you can just google Fawcett; she's all over the place. You "guys" might already know all about her? I'm the newbie, remember?

  16. Caleigh: About the martyrdom of adoption work for "love" vs well paid job. Well you have to wonder what was wrong with Bernardos to hire a prison administrator (and not a good one) in the first place.

    I think these people protest too much and can't get a better job for lack of skills and a good work history. What it really says is most adoption workers aren't valued pay-wise.

  17. SameOld: I absolutely agree with you! Both Narey and Fawcett are full a' s--t! Like we really believe that they gave up lucrative jobs! In this economy? Yeah, right! I'm so glad you brought that up; I completely forgot to say that.

    JANE Edwards: Thank you for helping me get my family [of comments] together!

  18. Would have thought a prison officer was perfect for Barnardos after all Barnardos were one of the institutions that created child migrants!

  19. In my 11:23 PM comment, I said, "...the media views us [moms who lost] much like society-at-large views us - you know the stereotype: We're viewed as powerless trailer-park trash!"

    After your illustrious neighbors - society -separate(s) single moms from their children via adoption; then, your neighbors turn the tables and say, "What kind of mother would give her child away? Only trailer-park trash would do that!" This is what your neighbors, perhaps, even unconsciously think. [Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.]

    I apologize to all people who live in trailer-parks! It's terrible the negative connotation our illustrious neighbors gave, and give, to residents of trailer parks.

  20. VON: I looked up the definitions of child migrant and forced migrants. It's so interesting! Thank you for calling that terminology to our attention! Education. Education. Education. I/we gotta' be armed! I'm becoming well-rounded in the world of child/family abuse! And it's not just physical and emotional abuse - we all know about that. It's these "hidden" sneaky and slick forms of abuse that society, as a whole, has no idea about. Most of society is too busy just trying to survive to pay much attention to abuses all over the world.

    I said once before on FMF, "I feel like I'm getting an online college degree!"

  21. In my July 26, 2011, 11:31 PM comment above, I wrote, "...Once on the CNN page, please look on the left side under 'CNN Heroes Videos'...."

    I meant to say, "... look on the RIGHT side...." Hey, this writin' ain't easy! Right? Right.

    Come to think of it, it's alot like school! [ha-ha]

  22. I don't know where to put this info and I don't want it forgotten. Perhaps it will be good fodder for future discussion?

    Here is yet another adopter who also got on THE BANDWAGON OF ~ ~ THE LESS LUCRATIVE WORK OF A LOVING MARTYR. She is so thrilled with her own adopted children that she, too, wants to spread the word. Yep, you guessed it! She has turned into an adoption consultant. She actually lists the prices that must be paid for each of the children that are for sale on her list on her website. She refers to the children yet to be born as SITUATIONS.

    What kind of a college degree is necessary to get into this line of work?

    Are these situations the offspring of The Situation and Snooky!?

    Is this common practice? A price list for buying human beings?

    Notice this adopter even has the word "situations" in her html. What a national disgrace? I don't think our forefathers had this in mind when they created our democracy and capitalism, entrepreneurship, supply and demand, the free market....


    Please click on my name and see if the link works!

    Make no mistake: The chickadees will come home to roost soon!!!

  23. OMG, that is such a disgusting site, Caleigh, prices listed alongside the upcoming babies. And since the living/legal fees are listed, you feel like the girls are producing babies on demand.

    Yes, this is fodder for the blog. Thanks.

  24. Here's an adopter-couple so thrilled with adoption that they, too, have set up a list of situations and, of course, how much each situation costs. Aaaawww.

    This twosome founded "Christian Adoption Consultants" and, aaaawww, they claim to "help couples on their adoption journey." And, look, the Bible made them do it. Please check out their home page on which they quote one of the Psalms in the Bible. Aaaawwww.

    Please just click on my name for a quick glance. I hope the link works.



    "How much do you have to spend? or How much do you want to spend? I'll see what I can do for you."

    Oh, okaaay, does it make you feel better if I call you an ADOPTION CONSULTANT?

  26. Such an offensive site!thanks for bringing it to attention.

  27. Have any of you looked at a website of an agency called "Adoptions First?" I believe it's the agency that Angelina Jolie went through. I am so disgusted by their solicitation of pregnant women. They make it sound like you'll rub elbows with the Hollywood celebs, do lots of shopping, live in a great house, and take tours of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Malibu.

    You can find them at: http://www.adoptionsfirst.com/BirthMothersSite/. Be sure to look through the whole site...but try not to do it right after you eat your dinner. I almost vomited when I read their crap.

  28. http://www.adoptionnetwork.com/birthmother-unplanned-pregnancy/unplanned-pregnancy-birthmother-tea-party.html

    When you think you have seen every form of adoption agency bad taste, check out the birthmother tea party, complete with silly hats! It should be a parody, but it is for real.

  29. Maryanne:

    GAG...It just gets worse and worse...and worse. They must have spiked the tea--let's all get together and celebrate that we gave away our babies to deserving families!

  30. I swear to God - I lost connection with my computer on that disgusting site. For a couple minutes I was stuck on that site!!! That only happens when my mouse battery is low, and then I get a heads-up, a warning. It was like a Higher Power said, "Let's have a moment of silence," analogous to "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

    [I feel uncomfortable saying that, I hope I'm not being sacrilegious. I'm following some of your leads in evoking religion.]

    Isn't such coercion illegal? Wouldn't that be classified as a confidence game or confidence trick? Am I still in the United States of America?

    Someone asked my intentions anent making change and here's the answer: This type of site is what I want to counter. I want adoption information in every agency across the U.S. to be FAIR & BALANCED - I mean really fair and balanced, not just pretend. Young moms must be given the COMPLETE both sides of the adoption gain and the adoption loss story.

    Hey! I don't care if people I don't know choose adoption; I would just appreciate a fair and balanced approach - clear & COMPLETE information for the family in crisis - society has made it a crisis! The last time I checked, giving birth to a Gift is a joyous occasion!!!

    If that site isn't "Victims not realizing they're being victimized," nothing is!" Oh, my God! I'm horrified! That site reminds me of - has the aura of - the movie with Mia Farrow, Rosemary's Baby, when all the hooded FREAKS were standing around in a circle like devils/vultures with mouths watering for that baby!!! Ugh!!!

  31. Sadly agencies in America are so well versed in selling techniques that coercion is 'subtle', designed to trap susceptible young women who think their baby is a 'gift'.



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