These exquisite stills are from the National Film and Sound Archive and taken from the 1921 Australian film ‘Know Thy Child’. The silent film – of which no more copies exist – followed the tribulations of country girl, Sadie (played by Vera James), who is seduced by travelling salesman Ray (played by Roland Conway). Sadie is left abandoned and pregnant and gives birth to baby Eileen. Through a twist of fate Eileen is later adopted by Ray and his new wife. The film was generally well-received by the public but did cause moral outrage among a few. This still shows Sadie cuddling her illegitimate daughter Eileen, who she is forced to give up due to her economic circumstance. Copyright applies to these images
Taken from a recent post on The History of Forced Adoption FB page – copied without permission or requested permission.!/forcedadoptionsarchives?fref=ts
As an adoptee, a bastard and someone who feels no less legitimate than I guess anyone else does, I have long taken issue with the use of the word ‘illegitimate’. To find it used on the supposedly legitimate page which purports to be recording facts and the truth of the history of forced adoption has been a surprise, a disappointment and a confirmation that the Admins are inexperienced, not well enough informed and are bungling in a way which other examples also show is creating stress, anger and confirmation of stigma amongst adult adoptees who post or try to post there. There are ways to express the views of the time, use words which are no longer acceptable because they are offensive, without causing offence and perpetuating stigma, it just takes some care and sensitivity. This is adoptism at it’s ‘best’..the equivalent of using the ‘n’ word, calling someone who has a disability by th ‘s’ word and so on.
To have a comment deleted or to be banned for speaking the truth of adoption as adoptees see it is just more of the same for us all. We get sent to sit in the naughty corner for speaking our truth all the time by a variety of people, groups etc and strangely enough it never stops us, we just go on speaking, trying again, trying differently or being trying! I’m sure we’re very trying to those who don’t want to hear, don’t want to know and don’t want to have their ideas and perceptions changed. This project, commissioned by our Government, states it is about ‘a discourse for shared knowledge and improved understanding of past forced adoption’ It appears not to be achieving what it is having a huge sum of public money to do. Perhaps first things first….counselling for adoptees, then go on to the fancy stuff with the large numbers of staff who no doubt had no idea what they were getting into. Some of us did try to prepare them but with the blithe naivete of the unknowing they blundered in and continue to blunder. Here’s an example on a thread –
Von Coates – Interesting that you are still using the word ‘illegitimate’ – very un-PC especially in this setting where so many of us are no less legitimate than anyone else! Stigma is alive and well!
Forced Adoptions History Project – Thanks for your opinion Von but FAHP disagrees. FAHP also recommends you read the text again in context.
Von Coates Thanks FAHP for your opinion but Von disagrees after rereading the text and giving the matter respectful consideration.

I made a further comment which was deleted, thereby revealing the true purpose of this project. It is not to record the history of adoption as experienced by adoptees, but to provide a resource for students, a place for mothers to tell their stories again and a place to use us adoptees while we play nice, play the game and don’t get too challenging or deviate too far from the accepted myths of adoption! Same old, same old! What changes? Even those who appear committed to recording our history want to write it their way. Stigma doesn’t exist and it’s ok to call someone ‘illegitimate’!!
So here’s the blurb on what the project is supposed to be about –
The National Archives of Australia Forced Adoptions History Project at
Forced adoptions have adversely affected many Australians, as established by the findings of a 2012 Senate Committee inquiry report. This report found it incontrovertible that forced adoptions occurred in Australia and concluded that 1950 to 1970 was a peak period for the unlawful practice. The inquiry resulted in a National Apology offered by the Federal Government on 21 March 2013. The report also recommended the creation of a website for affected persons to share their experiences. The Archives was commissioned to produce this website, as well as a national exhibition to raise public awareness of forced adoptions. The Archives asks that you respect the comments, feelings and privacy of people who contribute to this page. Please refrain from using surnames of any party or other identifying information. Please do not attempt to contact any persons using this page. Any comment or post that the Archives feels has ignored these requests, or vilifies another visitor in any form, will be immediately removed. If a visitor breaches these guidelines, their account will be blocked and prevented from posting on the page. The Archives is an apolitical agency. It is neither responsible for, nor promotes, views contained in material posted to this page, but offers it as a discourse for shared knowledge and improved understanding of past forced adoption. The broader topic of adoption is a separate issue covered elsewhere on Facebook. People wanting to contribute further to the Forced Adoptions History Project can do so by contacting The definition for forced adoptions in regards this page is: Forced adoptions occurred when children were taken for adoption because their parents, particularly their mothers, were forced to relinquish them or faced circumstances in which they were left with no other choice. Forced adoptions in Australia were common and incontrovertible. This was the finding of a 2012 Senate inquiry.

You’ll note this – ‘it as a discourse for shared knowledge and improved understanding of past forced adoption’ The rules got set after the beginning and posting is supposed to be in line with office hours – chaos! Discourse is non-existant due to deletions and a nonsense and improved understanding is very debatable.
Here’s another gem – This week’s topic is Forced Adoption & Stigma. FAHP Facebook has had queries from students wanting to know what life in Australia was like – after WWII to the mid-1970s – for unmarried women and their children. FAHP can provide only factual data & documents. Perhaps those affected persons who lived through it can provide primary-source accounts?
Never mind the pain in the retelling! I suggest they go to the Submissions to the Inquiry, the evidence given to the Inquiry, the Inquiry Report, the Monash History of Adoption Project and the now numerous memoirs of adoptees – or would that be too hard? Plenty of primary source accounts there!
It takes a Project like this to reveal how very disrespectful others are, how stigmatising and how unable to think outside the square. For all the progress that has apparently been made, we adoptees still have a very long way to go. The Inquiry could not refuse our Submissions and was run by Senators with experience and good judgement, heaven save us from amateurs and those with their own agendas. It will be life-long struggle for most of us, as we continue to face prejudice, misinformation, stigma, myths, lies and the barriers put in our way by those who can’t face the truth, lack courage, experience or moral fortitude.


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