Historical forced adoption in Victoria

Content warning

This page contains information and images relating to historical forced adoption practices that may be confronting or distressing.

Forced adoption refers to past practices that forcibly separated mothers and their babies. Not all these practices resulted in adoption.

These practices usually occurred in an institution, such as a hostel or hospital. Practices included:

  • sending mothers to maternity homes with harsh conditions
  • forcibly restraining mothers when they gave birth
  • immediately separating them from their newborn babies against their will
  • pressuring or coercing mothers into signing consent forms.

The long-term effects of past adoption practices cannot be understated.


The Victorian Government acknowledges the term ‘forced adoption’ does not represent the experiences of all affected by these practices. The term is not used to describe the experiences of individuals but used to introduce the overarching subject matter.


The trauma and effects of Forced Adoption practices can last a lifetime. Counselling, mental health services and advocacy resources are designed to offer practical and emotional support to those who need it most.

If you or someone you know has been affected by forced adoption, we encourage you to use this resource to find the support and assistance you need.

Support Services:

Lifeline - 24/7 support
Call: 13 11 14

Call 1300 26 474
Email: info@vanish.org.au

Relationships Australia
Call 1800 210 313
Email: fass@rav.org.au

Call 03 9287 8800
Email: linkup@vacc.org

VAHS Yarning SafeNStrong
Call: 1800 959 563