Over the past century, thousands of Australians experienced the agony of forced adoption. Now their stories are finally being heard.
That’s the title of a new exhibition being displayed by the National Archives of Australia and focusing on the personal stories of thousands of people whose live were damaged by forced adoption in Australia.
Julia Gillard officially launched the exhibition, which includes thousands of first-hand accounts of women forced into giving up their babies over the past century.
Forced adoption policies were in place in Australia from the 1950s to the 1970s. For decades it was the social norm to expect young and unmarried mothers to give up their children. There are reportedly at least 150,000 Australian women who had their children taken from them by some churches and adoption agencies
One of the contributors to the exhitibion, Margaret Oakhill-Hamilton, tells of falling pregnant when she was only nineteen years old.
“I was engaged to be married and three weeks before the wedding my fiance called it off,” Ms. Oakhill-Hamilton said.
“I was sent to St Mary’s Home, and I stayed there until my son was born.
I was taken by an ambulance to Royal Brisbane Hospital, and there I believe I was drugged.”
She has no recollection of her son’s birth, and afterwards she was drugged until she agreed to sign a consent form for adoption. Fourteen days later, her son was collected by his adopted parents.
“I was told to go home, get on with life and put it behind you.”
The exhibition documents the experiences of Margaret and thousands of others like her who had their babies stolen using the same ‘forced consent’.
‘Without Consent’ is on display at the National Archives until July 19, 2015.