Adoption was widely accepted in Australia throughout the 1950s and 60s - by families, government and welfare authorities - but over the course of the 1970s, adoption, from policy to practice, was transformed. This second program in the series uncovers the change in thinking and its consequences for parents, children and professionals.
The changes were the result of political leadership and grassroots campaigning, as groups formed round Australia debating the need for reform to adoption law. Birth mothers spoke out, grown-up adoptees demanded access to information and for the first time indigenous people were asked their views on the adoption of indigenous children into white families. In 1975 the federal Government entered the scene with Operation Babylift and inter-country adoption became widely known.
Adoption has continued to affect many Australians - it is estimated that one in 6 people has a close connection through family or friends - and debate continues over inter-country adoption, with the most recent government inquiry taking place in 2005. Following campaigns led by Christine Cole, several major hospitals in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney are now issuing apologies to unmarried mothers whose babies were adopted against their will.
Research has confirmed the persistent grief experienced by birth mothers and sense of loss felt by adoptees, and every state government contributes financially to post-adoption support services. Adoption is a deeply personal matter and across Australia there is a plethora of self-help groups where adopted people and parents meet to tell their stories and share experiences. We would like to thank all those who contributed so generously in this series.
Produced by Jennifer Bowen, with sound production from Garry Havrillay, and Tim Symonds
First broadcast by Hindsight, on ABC National in Australia in November 2009
Listen to the first part of this documentary here.
First broadcast February 22nd 2014
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