Adoptions in 21st century Australian have seen a climax of adoption reform, according to Marian Quartly who spoke at a keynote address for the Biennial OHAA in Adelaide this week. As part of a four-year ARC-funded research grant, the Monash University History of Adoption team established a website and put out a call for people to upload their personal testimonies through oral histories. Marian and the team hoped this would result in research results from all points of view. She notes that most responses were from adoptees and birth mothers.
Marian looked at adoptions over a long time period and noted that from the 1920s to early 1970s babies were generally given up to avoid shaming the family – babies were born in secret. From 1860 to 1950 advertertisements in the newspapers can be found for babies (see Trove). The attitude only began to change when abortion became more acceptable and payments were made to single mothers. The popular magazine "The Australian Women's Weekly" helped shape the change in attitude through articles and its "advice" column and the magazine helped establish mothers' groups. A research finding was that society mores in Australia forced adoption for single mothers who felt that they had no choice. On 21 March 2013 Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a national apology for Forced Adoption Practices.
The Adoption Project website also covers inter-country adoptions and how that has affected the adoptees and the adoptive parents. Vietnamese babies came out during the Vietnam War. Babies from other countries continued the trend. Some adoptees suffered from racism and confusion with their dual identity.
The research project has resulted in a book entitled The Market in Babies: Stories of Australian Adoption.