The other stolen generation

The Other Stolen Generation

Hearing anecdotal evidence from the son of a migrant woman, who in the 1950s, had one of her twins stolen from a Redfern maternity hospital, persuaded me to research the phenomenon known as the ‘white’ stolen generation. The migrant woman, who had extremely limited English skills, was only handed one of her twins before being aggressively shooed out of the hospital by staff. She died never knowing what had happened to the other twin. Her children are still living with the family trauma today. 

The name the ‘white stolen generation’ distinguishes it from the ‘stolen generation’ where hundreds of children were forcibly removed from Indigenous mothers under the guise of child protection. In the five decades between the 1930s and the 1980s, more than 250,000 babies born out of wedlock were forcibly removed from their mothers and put up for adoption in practices later, deemed illegal. Pregnant women were forced to leave their families due to the stigma of being unmarried and were ushered into maternity hospitals where they were given mind altering substances, tied to beds, denied the right to ever see their babies, and even told their babies were dead. Pregnant women were guilt tripped by maternity staff who intimated they were selfish for wanting to keep their babies. Files were marked for adoption even after impending mothers expressed that they wanted to keep their babies.

In another significant scandal, mass children were deported from the UK and Ireland to Australia. Children as young as four were told their parents were dead and promised ‘sunshine and oranges’ on the other side of the world (TPG). Instead, the children were put into institutions and subjected to hard labour and abuse. One social worker brought worldwide attention to this miscarriage of justice and was instrumental in reuniting many children with the families.

Organisations such as Adoption Loss Adult Support and Apology Alliance have been established to offer help and support for those affected by the ‘white stolen generation.’ Then Prime Minister Julia Gillard apologised nationally in 2013 for those affected by these illegal adoptions.

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