Saturday, March 06, 2010

If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?

( perth.). (For More)

WA is poised to be the first State to publicly acknowledge the aggressive adoption practices which resulted in thousands of mothers being unlawfully separated from their babies after giving birth out of wedlock.
Health Minister Kim Hames has revealed he is personally overseeing the creation of a memorial to the families affected by State hospital and welfare practices during the 1940s to the early 1980s.

Dr Hames is also likely to read an apology on behalf of the State Government either in Parliament or at a dedication ceremony opening the memorial at a yet to be determined location. Dr Hames said many women and families had been emotionally damaged and he wanted to help them heal. "You look back on those attitudes of the day and wonder how we could be so harsh," he said.

"Things like taking children away from their mothers as soon as they were born and not letting them see or touch them. We are apologising in the same way as with the Stolen Generation, recognising that those practices . . . were ones that today wouldn't be acceptable and that they caused considerable hurt and harm."

Experts say tens of thousands of WA babies were taken illegally when their unmarried mothers were prevented from seeing, touching, naming or bonding with their children immediately after birth. The practice, which has been linked to post traumatic stress, was illegal under the Adoption of Children Acts but widespread at public hospitals throughout Australia. Also common but illegal was asking women to sign adoption papers earlier than five days after the birth.

Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital apologised for their "ill treatment" of unmarried mothers in May last year.

Christine Cole, convenor of the NSW-based Apology Alliance which lobbies on the issue, said a memorial dedicated by a State health minister would be the most significant acknowledgment by authorities "probably anywhere in the world".

"These adoptions happened for two key reasons," she said. "First, it saved the State money because if a child was adopted they didn't have to pay for foster care or mothers' benefits.

"The second was this eugenics-based notion that young women who gave birth out of wedlock were feeble minded (*or deviant *rw) and unfit mothers."

Australian Medical Association WA president Gary Geelhoed said the memorial would be symbolic but "very, very important".

Once again, another nation steps ahead of us in addressing the huge cluster-fuck we call the EMS or BSE. Every word in the article above could apply to the US and to the mothers who were isolated, shamed, coerced and coldly divested of their infants.

While Origins NSW is not completely  happy with the actual presentation of the apology, it is a whole lot more than we US mothers have even a chance of receiving unless something big happens. They are talking about tens of thousands of young women. Here in the United States of Adoption, we are talking in terms of millions.

This is just another example of the Puritanical heritage that still guides the thinking of our powers-that-be and the general public. We are valued so little that we can still be seen as unfit and brood stock for the fit. I'd immigrate to the Land Down Under except for the fact that I don't like the weather, there.

The mothers down there have seen a lot of success in a few decades. It was hard fought-for and the struggle was a debilitating one for many. The late and sorely missed Dian Welfare was a ball of fire and a champion for this cause. So many others fought the system and won moral victories even when they lost court cases on an individual basis. The thing is, they worked together and the government was not so bogged down in the bottom line and the arrogance of  "Might Makes Right" that they could afford to ignore these people and their issues.

Our government has apologized for slavery,  for using people in experiements, and for the suffering of the Native Americans. All these things happened in the past but they affected groups of people, profoundly, and changed the course of their histories and lives. These groups are large, but not that much larger than the hordes of, mostly Caucasion, middle-class, girls who were hidden, warehoused and harvested of their babies.

I have seen individuals, even ministers, learn more tolerance and understanding over the years where our plight was concerned. Yet our elected officials only want to keep us hidden and cover the industry's large, smelly ass by intoducing legislation that calls for us to violate our own constitutional rights. They need some kind of loud wake-up call.

We are fractured, factioned and so many of us are damaged. But sooner or later, we need to be heard. So, why not us and why not now?


maybe said...

Re: using adoption to save the state money - sadly, that justification is still used in the US by many folks who are against any form of social safety net.

Mandy Lifeboats said...

maybe is correct....

And personally I don't see this happening in America, at least while I'm alive. And I sincerely doubt that anyone will pick up the gauntlet for American mothers, after we have left this earth, as a population of women who were discriminated against solely because of our marital status while pregnant and giving birth to our own children. There have been a few mothers that were trying to do the same as the mothers in Australia..but they didn't have the numbers of women backing them and sadly is a few too many nmothers in America who work on their own selfish agendas, in the guise of working for nmothers as a whole...that of working on their own mission to be the Diva..the Queen of Surrendering Mothers. We all can see how that has helped us has gotten us nowhere as a collective group. Then you have the nmothers who have been guilted (and still walk around in a state of perpetual guilt)by virtue of their surrenders and yet again, still seek redemption, in one form or another. I have come to accept that no apology, no acknowledgement from the states or the feds will ever be forth coming, willingly. Seems in America that the only way to grab attention is to SUE, SUE, SUE! And of course the adoption lobbyists, the religious organizations that were massively involved during the BSE/EMS, the adoption industry itself..they would fight any acknowledgement of the discrimination/inhumane treatment/the violation of human rights that were suffered by millions of young unmarried mothers in America during the BSE/EMS, to do that would to openly acknowledge their horrific part in separating newborns from their young unmarried mothers, with the accompanying threat of lawsuits. Adoption as a business in America is still thriving, adopters still want babies, and we still don't have open records nationwide for adoptees and mothers alike.
But I am happy for my sisters In Australia, it was a long time coming, was way overdue and they deserve this acknowledgement for all the loss they have suffered thru out their lives.
I have come to believe, compared to other Westernized countries...America isn't all that progressive...rather acts more like a Nation of Puritans and practices Taliban-like behaviors towards the most vulernable in our American society, yesterday and today, that being our women and children.
Good Blog..Robin!

Unknown said...

I am pretty sure that as they have said, there will likely not be any apology forthcoming for mothers of that heinous time, or any other time, for that matter. Teddy Roosevelt was the last president who made an apology and he rued it ever after! However, at this point in my life, I don't give a shit about and "I am sorry!" from the Government or anyone else for that matter. I simply want justice, and, as Mandy stated, "Sue, sue, sue!"

In our nation that puts money ahead of every other value, and where the general thinking is that people are poor or powerless because of some character flaw in themselves, it seems that if there is a profit to be made, then whatever "it" is, it is worth preserving.

Robin said...

I agree, Ladies, that the prospects are slim and that saddens me, terribly. It is like that last little fragment of idealism and conviction of the basic goodness of people has been taken from me. Lawsuits seem to be the only possibility for the oppressed in this county.

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

lawsuits probably are the only hope for the oppressed in the USA, if they can get the means to do it.

The right to petition the gov't for redress of wrongs is a First Amendment right. Suing is a freedom we all have a right to....up there with freedom of speech, the press, etc.