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Australia: Catholic hospitals apologize for forced adoptions

Catholic World News - July 25, 2011

The CEO of Catholic Health Australia has apologized for the participation of the nation’s Catholic hospitals in forced adoption. Between the 1950s and the 1970s, thousands of children were taken away from single mothers immediately after birth and placed in adoptive homes.

“The evidence that’s come forward really speaks to a shameful and a regretful time in the history of healthcare in Australia,” said Martin Laverty. “It wasn't just a small number of hospitals; we now know that there were many hospitals across Australia.”

“My ankles were strapped to the bed, they were in stirrups, and I was gassed,” one single mother recalled. “I had plenty of gas, and they just snatched away the baby, you weren’t allowed to see him or touch him anything like that or hold him, and it was just like a piece of my soul had died, and it’s still dead.”

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  • Posted by: Bernadette - Aug. 05, 2011 10:23 AM ET USA

    addendum: Some of the differences between then and now is that usually women gave their children up for adoption which I believe is a better, more sacrificial way, thinking more of the child than the mother's desires. Also, there was a certain shame that a woman would get herself into this situation which was understood to be a sin; having intercourse when not married. Is it better today when there is no stigma and baby brought up often in poverty by children or elderly grandparents?

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Aug. 05, 2011 10:10 AM ET USA

    Well, I am inclined to understand the thinking behind these laws: oftentimes the mother was too young and unable to care properly for the child; adoptive parents (mother/father) who wanted children would be a better environment for the child to grow up in; there was a certain shame in a young woman becoming pregnant out of wedlock and perhaps it was thought this would be a deterrent. Without forcibly removing the baby from his mother, perhaps the above COULD be encouraged more by our society.

  • Posted by: alowan6931 - Jul. 27, 2011 11:20 AM ET USA

    I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the forced adoptions were mandated by the government, not the Church, and that the Church in Australia is apologizing for obeying that law. Key phrases: "...participation of the nation’s Catholic hospitals in forced adoption..." - Participation means taking part in, not creating, a policy. "...regretful time in the history of healthcare in Australia..." - Not the history of the Church; the history of healthcare.

  • Posted by: Guest6455 - Jul. 27, 2011 2:59 AM ET USA

    We should NOT JUDGE THE PAST with the IDEAS OF TODAY of today. At the beginning of Christianity slavery and crucifixion were “normal”. Let us look at the PROGRESS we have promoted (even if we are sometimes a “zigzag” line). What will they think 30 YEARS FROM NO about what we do today?

  • Posted by: stpetric - Jul. 26, 2011 6:25 PM ET USA

    I wonder what the thinking at the time was; I doubt that Australia's hospital authorities (and the Catholic ones among them) considered what they were doing to be "totalitarian" or a "horrible abuse." I suspect it was the general ethos of the day that said unwed mothers were unsuitable. If that's the case, are we holding people of another time to the standards of our own? And what do *we* do now that our successors will be apologizing for in 50 years?

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Jul. 26, 2011 12:12 PM ET USA

    This story has been haunting me since I first read it. In the 1970s I was celebrating the birth of each of my children and at the same time, other women were having their babies wrenched away from them by Catholic institutions. I can't imagine their grief and sorrow - then and now. This is the Church founded by our Lord while he was here on earth. Where are our Shepherds that these horrible abuses (sexual abuse, the children's homes in Ireland and now this)could go on each time for years!.

  • Posted by: Chelle,SFO-MI - Jul. 25, 2011 10:57 PM ET USA

    My heart and prayers go out to these woman and children. Jesus have mercy on us.

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Jul. 25, 2011 9:17 PM ET USA

    How does this inhumanity happen over such a long period of time? Where was our Church? Please prayer for these families who were torn apart and for the souls of those who did this to mothers and their children.

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