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
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
Until clearer information comes to light, here's a summary of what we know, and what we don't.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Turns out it's not as hard as you think to board a plane with a stolen passport.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 0300 GMT (1100 HKT)
Aaron Miller says even those with little knowledge of Ukraine should spot the myths we've heard.
Track star Oscar Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Follow live updates of South Africa's trial of the century.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
CNN reveals it's not just trade in which Russian interests are strongly represented -- it's in some of the most lavish assets around the world.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
What we commonly call the Web is really just the surface. Beneath that is a vast, mostly uncharted ocean called the Deep Web.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
On March 1, football's lawmakers, the International Football Association Board, met to debate the idea of a "sin-bin."
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1756 GMT (0156 HKT)
"Don't ask me about her again," Justin Bieber tells lawyer after question on Selena Gomez.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
It seems architects are increasingly drawn to buildings you can see straight through.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1758 GMT (0158 HKT)
In the early 1960s, a young postdoctoral student stumbled onto something that puzzled him.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 1923 GMT (0323 HKT)
Was it a bomb? Mechanical failure? A hijacking gone awry? Pilot error? Here are four scenarios that aviation experts are discussing.
Today's five most popular stories