Adoption loss, reunion, and beyond

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I was always told I would be selfish to keep my baby - she will be ‘better off’ with a married couple; stable, loving, financially secure.

My head was pinned down so I could not see her being born and taken away. But I did see her for 2 minutes before losing her forever. I signed the form hoping my daughter would find me one day. I knew something unjust had happened but it would be years before I would learn that a consent to adoption, although never stated, also gave permission for institutional or permanent foster care without my knowledge or consent.

I stared at babies in prams, toddlers in strollers, and then young adults. I never stopped looking.

In my 30’s I became a social worker and I joined a group for women like myself who had lost babies through adoption. ARMS (Association Representing Mothers Separated from their Children by Adoption) became my saviour, and in 1987 whilst writing my thesis ‘Relinquishing Mothers – A Forgotten Group’ I met my 19 year old daughter. That was 26 years ago.

In 2013 I attended Julia Gillard’s National Apology and in 2014 I wrote a book called Mothers In ARMS – The Story of Forced Adoption in South Australia (Publisher Wakefield Press).

Losing my child changed my life forever. Having a baby taken by coercion and deception is a heinous act. And to be blamed for doing the very thing that society demanded we do, teaches us about hypocrisy and injustice. I and many of my friends survived adoption but I still grieve for my fellow mothers, children and families who did not. Forced adoption was, and remains, one of this country’s greatest crimes.


My experience of forced adoption was that it was insidious and came in many guises – beware; history has a not so funny way of repeating itself.

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  • Adoption loss, reunion, and beyond