Australia apologizes for forced adoptions
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 0340 GMT (1140 HKT)
A file image of newborn babies in a hospital maternity ward, 1955.
- Forced adoptions were widespread in Australia for decades
- They were often arranged for the babies of unwed mothers
- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivers the apology
(CNN) -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard offered an apology Thursday to the mothers, children and families affected by forced adoptions.
An untold number of unwed women in Australia were forced to give up their children for adoption over decades during the 20th century.
"To you, the mothers -- who were betrayed by a system that gave you no choice and subjected you to manipulation, mistreatment and malpractice -- we apologize," said Gillard, speaking in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra.
Addressing those ripped from their families, she said: "To each of you who were adopted or removed, who were led to believe your mother had rejected you, and who were denied the opportunity to grow up with your family and community of origin, and to connect with your culture, we say sorry."
Gillard's comments came about a year after a Senate committee that investigated forced adoptions released its report, which included a recommendation for a national apology.
The report found that some mothers signed adoption papers while under the influence of medication. Others were not advised of government payments that may have been available to them.
"Most common of all was the bullying arrogance of a society that presumed to know what was best," Gillard said.
The report estimated there were 140,000 to 150,000 adoptions between 1951 and 1975, and as many as 250,000 from 1940 onward. It determined it was impossible to say exactly how many of those were forced.
Gillard pledged support for families that continue to be affected by such adoptions, committing $5 million Australian to improving access to specialist support and records tracing.
"We offer this apology in the hope that it will assist your healing and in order to shine a light on a dark period of our nation's history," she said.
Part of complete coverage on
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 1704 GMT (0104 HKT)
Google's acquisition of a military robot maker prompts Douglas Rushkoff to ask how the deal fits the company's value of "don't be evil."
After their leader Kim Jong Un had his own uncle executed, how do ordinary North Koreans feel?
December 20, 2013 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Despite wanting to be a great power, India often fails to behave like one, writes Jeremy Carl.
December 21, 2013 -- Updated 0035 GMT (0835 HKT)
What scope do western governments have to influence change for the better?
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Extremist attacks of the kind that claimed the life of UK soldier Lee Rigby do not come out of thin air, analysts say.
December 20, 2013 -- Updated 1814 GMT (0214 HKT)
From tycoon bankruptcies to billion-dollar takeovers, 2013 has been a roller coaster year.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
Which has been the craziest year in travel history? It just could be 2013.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Kickstarter is one of the world's largest crowdfunding websites -- over 53,000 projects have been born.
December 20, 2013 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see in news reports, taken by CNN teams all around the world.
December 20, 2013 -- Updated 1525 GMT (2325 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember. Look back at the photographs that chronicled 2013.
December 20, 2013 -- Updated 0236 GMT (1036 HKT)
Never mind the baubles -- one of these Christmas trees is made of macaroons.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 1203 GMT (2003 HKT)
What do you need to map a billion stars? A billion-pixel camera certainly helps.
Today's five most popular stories