Forced adoption victims offered apology

Date: Sep 24, 2012

The premier of New South Wales has issued an apology to those who were victims of forced adoptions in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

In a joint sitting of parliament, Barry O'Farrell apologised for the pain and suffering experienced by the mothers and children involved in these forced changes of child custody.

"The trauma induced by the forced adoption practices in the past has reverberated through the lives of tens of thousands of mothers, and their children who were removed.

"It's affected fathers who were never given a say, as well as the families who never knew of the truth of what went on with brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews or grandchildren they lost," he said.

The forced adoptions involved single mothers and teenage mothers were forced into signing forms, often whilst under sedation,which legally allowed these newborns to be placed into other families. This scheme took place over numerous decades and involved an estimated 150,000 babies across the country.

This apology has come in the wake of apologies by other state governments, including the South Australian and Western Australian parliaments.

The NSW family and community services minister Pru Goward said that these adoptions took place whilst the mothers didn't have all their faculties, as they had just given birth.

"It is true that there were thousands of young women in NSW who were persuaded or manipulated to accept that adoption was in the best interest of their child, but there are an unknown number for whom the persuasion became coercion - they are part of this apology," she said.

Opposition leader John Robertson and Pru Goward's counterpart, Barbara Perry also gave speeches in parliament, highlighting the 'barbaric' practices that were undertaken in the mid twentieth century.

The apology today (September 20) saw hundreds turn out, many reading testimonials of how this practise of removing children from mothers has caused much heartache and pain. Lyn read a poem, describing in detail what she had to endure after she lost her son.

Some were affected by the forced adoptions and were present for the speech, told the Sydney Morning Herald they felt that the speech did not go far enough. They suggested the speech didn't stress the criminality of the issue; they also felt that a vehicle for reconciliation would be extra mental health services.