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Adoption was legalised in Australia in the 1920s, but not widely embraced before the Second World War. During the 1950s, a series of court cases in which birth mothers challenged the validity of the adoption of their children, threatened the viability of this new social policy. This paper argues that the 1960s tightening of secrecy provisions should be understood in the context of these challenges which reopened debates around the status of adoptive motherhood. By listening for the voice of relinquishing mothers, it challenges the view they were complicit in the process which deprived them of claims to maternal status.


School of Arts

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Journal Article

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