AUSTRALIA APOLOGIZES FOR THEIR EMS
(http://www.abc/.%20net.au/local/%20audio/2010/%2003/05/2838001.%20htm?site= 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".
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?