Forced Adoption Practices in Australia

I read a few of the recommended ethics blogs in the reader.  None of them struck me as particularly ground breaking until i came across an article on Forced Adoption Practices in Australia (  A news story describing the events can be found here (

  • Beginning in the 1950’s, and ending in the 1970’s, the Australian Church forced unmarried or “unfit” soon to be mothers to put their unborn children up for adoption.  A senate inquiry found that this practice was widespread and this investigation lead to an apology from the church which admits complete fault for its actions and acknowledges that the Church caused suffering for both the parents and children that were subject to this treatment.
  • This is an outrageous phenomenon that has occurred outside of Australia as well.  From an ethical perspective, who gave the Church the right to force an adoption?  Aren’t they taking away a mother’s right to raise her children, or a child’s right to be brought up by her parents?
  • When i realized that this practice had been occurring in the 1950’s I was shocked.  I would have expected something like this in the medieval era, but not 500 years after its end.  How could the government allow this to occur in a “free” nation?

6 thoughts on “Forced Adoption Practices in Australia

  1. I think people are ignorant of the omnipotence of the government’s power. In China, families were not allowed to have more than one child for a number of years in order to slow the population growth. And in the US, certain government officials are lobbying to take away a woman’s right to an abortion – even in the case of rape. Although this “forced adoption” idea seems absurd, nothing is really all that shocking any more. I almost feel like we’ve become numb to outrageous initiatives like this.

  2. In a way, this “forced adoption” idea almost sounds like Child Protective Services. While I agree with Joe that forced adoption does take away the parent’s right to raise their child and the child’s right to be raised by their parent, could it also be protecting children from ending up in a dangerous situation? Young children are unable to care for or speak up for themselves, could the Australian government be trying to give these children a voice?

  3. What a crazy event that took place. This is something I can believe happened in maybe the 1800’s but all the way up to the 1970s? That’s insane. How does a rule like this even come about in the 20th century? With other events going on in the world near this time like the holocaust and the abolition of slavery, it seems Australia must have been in their own little world rejecting the ethical changes going on in the world. What was the criteria for being a “fit” mother? Some kind of a test? Come on Australia.

  4. I agree with heather on this issue, although there is no doubt in my mind that this law takes it to an extreme. The law was there to protect the rights of children and to protect them from an unfortunate situation. That being said, the religious aspect of it confuses me. I also agree with Ronjohn that it creates a huge grey area in determining what makes parents unfit.

  5. Staring from 1950 and ending in 1970, I just wonder why it takes like 20 years to for the senate to find out about this absurd practice. Why didn’t the natural mothers complain about this to local police? Looks like there is another conspiracy behind this during that 20 years period.

  6. This sounds totally nuts. Were people who attend these churches be okay with this practice? At the very least, I’m happy to hear that the church apologized for its actions. I feel like that doesn’t happen very often in situations like these.

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