A crèche in a large metropolitan hospital, 1953.

A new exhibition, Without Consent: Australia’s past adoption practices opens at the Western Australian Museum – Albany on Saturday 10 September 2016.                             

It brings to light a previously hidden aspect of Australia’s past – forced adoptions –and has offered those affected an opportunity to share their experiences, some for the first time.

WA Museum – Albany Regional Manager Rachael Wilsher-Saa said it is estimated at least 150,000 adoptions took place from the 1950s to the 1970s and a significant number of them were forced.

“Many of the women were not given the chance to love and care for their babies because they weren’t married. They were compelled to live a lie for decades, or even for the rest of their lives,” Ms Wilsher-Saa said.

Without Consent: Australia’s past adoption practices is a national touring exhibition developed and presented by the National Archives of Australia. A website was also developed following former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s national apology to those affected by forced adoptions in 2013.

“This poignant exhibition is made possible by the brave and generous people who volunteered to share their experiences,” Ms Wilsher-Saa said.

“It aims to express the truth: that the babies taken for adoption were loved and wanted by their parents.”

One letter in the exhibition is from a mother to her son. It reads: “I loved you so much it hurt, and I loved you much more than I loved myself; that is why I was prepared to sacrifice my happiness for yours.”

Without Consent: Australia’s past adoption practices will be on display at the WA Museum – Albany until 20 November 2016.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be advised that this exhibition may contain images of, or reference to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who may have been affected by forced adoptions during this period.

Jane Mitchell
Media and Publicity Officer
Western Australian Museum
(08) 6552 7805 / 0424 027 646