Heartbreak of forced adoption

Lina Eve of Cawongla was forced to give up her baby when she was 17. David Nielsen
Lina Eve of Cawongla was forced to give up her baby when she was 17. David Nielsen

A NORTH Coast adoption activist hopes a national inquiry into forced adoptions will bring more support for women who have suffered the heartbreak of losing a child.

The long-awaited senate inquiry into forced adoptions received more than 400 submissions and will be handed down in Canberra today.

The inquiry has heard many unmarried women were often bullied and forced to give their babies up for adoption well into the 1970s.

As a result, many of these women continued to experience grief and depression for the rest of their lives.

The inquiry has examined whether Commonwealth Government policies compelled these women to hand over their babies.

Many women have told how they were judged and treated badly and most did not even catch a glimpse of their baby before the child was whisked away.

Northern Rivers artist and adoption activist Lina Eve was just 17 and unmarried when she had to give up her first-born child to a forced adoption in 1964.

She said women were drugged, punished and threatened.

After conversations with the adoptees, Ms Eve said they also felt that the "secrecy about their origins often created a feeling of shame and abandonment".

Ms Eve said she hopes the inquiry leads to funding being allocated to support those affected by forced adoptions.

"I hope the inquiry into forced adoptions will make funding avail- able to provide offices and trained counsellors for Origins, the support group that has been providing free counselling for many years for people separated by adoption," Ms Eve said.

"I hope too they would provide funding for mediation (if required) during reunion and financial assist- ance if families need to travel a long way to meet."

Ms Eve said making information about the facts of forced adoptions clearly available in video, film and books could end this stigma and help educate the community.

"It might also be of benefit for adopted people to learn they were not merely cast aside by their mothers but were taken by force, coercion and the general shameful treatment towards unmarried mothers," Ms Eve said.

While many have called for a national apology to be offered to those affected, Ms Eve said it is more important to focus on real assistance in terms of counselling support services.

"An apology alone will not accomplish much, beyond an emotional symbolic moment," Ms Eve said.

"What we need is support to help heal all the damage done to mothers (and a few fathers) and their child- ren by the social experiment of forced adoption."

If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety or depression (which so many people affected by forced adoption are), they should call Lifeline on 13 11 14.


THE Northern Star is looking for people who have been through the experience of a forced adoption.

We are hoping to document the stories of women and their children from our region.

Please contact 6620 0554 or email

Topics:  adoption children coffs harbour parents senate inquiry

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