Friday, September 30, 2011

Unmarried mums tied to beds, sedated during birth - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A parliamentary inquiry into forced adoptions has heard how unmarried
mothers were tied to beds and sedated as they gave birth.

For this article, please click the link below:
Thanks to Brett and Therese

Time to say sorry for all the broken hearts

Martin Laverty
September 28, 2011

. Turning back time ... the pain of past adoption practices still lingers. What can be done to mend hearts broken in the past?

Some women live with broken hearts, past practices having taken their babies from them for placement in adoption. Some of those children, now adults, live with broken hearts because they were taken from their mothers and placed in adopted families. Fathers, siblings and other family members have lived with broken hearts because of past adoption practices.

Some Catholic hospitals and health services played roles promoting and implementing the once widespread policy of placing the children of some unmarried young mothers in the care of adoptive parents. To those across Australia who carry broken hearts as a result, I say sorry.

The practice of placing these babies in adoption was the policy of governments over many decades. The practice was carried out in government hospitals, Catholic hospitals and in other formal and informal organisations.

I've had recent contact with many people who have had different experiences of adoption; three of which, while respecting the privacy of the individuals involved, shed light on the different challenges they've faced.

The first is a mother who delivered her two children in a Catholic hospital in the early 1970s, shortly after having stayed in a Catholic home for women to which she was taken by her parents. She describes her births as painful, she describes the removal of her children as heartbreaking, and she struggled in the years afterwards to access the medical and birth records needed to make contact with her two children. That contact is now made. They've done what they can to put their lives together, but the heartbreak remains obvious and there have been periods of darkness.

The second is that of a woman who is still searching for her brother, born in rural NSW in the 1920s. Her situation is one for which there simply may be no solution; she has no records and no system to enable a family reunion, which in all reality could simply be too late.

The third is a man in regional Queensland, seeking his birth records from the early 1960s. It appears his birth was in a public hospital in Sydney, and now approaching 50, this man is trying to put together the jigsaw puzzle of his birth. He does not know his mother, and in turn, his mother does not know him.

Each of these stories is deeply personal, as are the experiences of those touched by past adoption practices. For some, adoption has been positive. For others, tragically, not so.

What can be done to mend hearts broken in the past?

First, some still have difficulty accessing records, despite post-adoption services in all states and territories. The Community and Disability Services Ministers' Conference should establish a national strategy involving all governments and non-government agencies involved in adoption to facilitate access to medical and birth records.

Second, there exists a continuing need for post-adoption counselling, by counsellors with experience in post-adoption care. Again, the Community and Disability Services Ministers' Conference is best placed to develop a strategy to support access to counselling focused on the differing needs of mothers, fathers, adopted children, their siblings and, if needed, the parents who have cared for adopted children.

Third, some mothers continue to have grievances about their birth experience or the consent procedure that led to their child being adopted. Some of these grievances are unresolved. Adoption was and is a legal responsibility of states and territories, and the processes that exist to hear grievances about medical care and consent differ across states. They are complex and difficult to access.

Finally, there is a role for an apology from governments. We have issued our apology in recognition of the role of Catholic organisations. The government of Western Australia has done the same. Others should follow. We would be happy to work with governments in shaping such an apology.

These words here today will not satisfy everyone, as words cannot put broken families back together. These words have not emphasised that for some, adoption has worked well. I'm nonetheless pleased to have been able to make our formal apology to the Federal Parliament, and to now encourage federal parliamentarians to do what they can.

Martin Laverty is the chief executive of Catholic Health Australia. This is an edited version of his address today to the Senate inquiry in Canberra into past adoptions.
Sydney morning Herald.

Thank you Chris for forwardg this to ALAS.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Public Hearing- Canberra, Wednesday 28 September 2011

Commonwealth contribution to former forced adoption policies and practices

Committee Room 2S1
Parliament House

9.00 am - 4.15 pm

Time Witness
9.00 am – 9.45 am Attorney General's Department
9.45 am – 10.30 am Australian Institute of Family Studies
10.30 am – 10.45 am Break
10.45 am – 11.15 am Mr Thomas Graham
11.15 am – 11.45 am Dr Susan Gair (via teleconference)
11.45 am – 12.15 pm Department of Health and Ageing
12.15 pm – 12.45 pm National Archives of Australia
12.45 pm – 1.45 pm Lunch
1.45 pm – 2.15 pm Mrs Janice Kashin
2.15 pm – 3.00 pm Catholic Health Australia
3.00 pm – 3.15 pm Break
3.15 pm – 4.15 pm Community Forum
Taken from Parliament of Australia Senate site

Hickey aploogises to mothers

The West AustralianSeptember 21, 2011, 5:26 am

Perth Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey has asked for forgiveness for his "insensitive" comments in July about unwed mothers who were forced to give up their babies for adoption in Catholic institutions.

The plea comes as the Catholic Church's Australian medical arm prepares to apologise during a Senate hearing in Canberra next week for the treatment of unwed mothers coerced into parting with their newborn babies in its hospitals.

Catholic Health Australia chief executive Martin Laverty delivered a similar apology in NSW in July.

But his expected apology before the Senate inquiry into former forced adoption policies next week is being hailed as a national gesture.

It will be given to Federal Parliament and broadcast live on the internet.

Archbishop Hickey offended affected mothers after the July apology by saying there was "little evidence" of forced adoption by the Church.

Albany woman Judith Hendriksen, who gave birth in 1973 at St Anne's Hospital in Mt Lawley run by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy and had her daughter adopted against her will, wrote to Archbishop Hickey about her experience.

In his reply to her last month, Archbishop Hickey wrote that he had since read other reports from girls who gave birth at St Anne's "and I am beginning to understand something of their grief".

"Perhaps they (the Sisters) did not believe they had forced anyone, only strongly recommended adoption but I can see for a young girl this would seem like forcing her because it was pressure she could not resist," he said.

"Please forgive me for my insensitivity.

"I know better now."

Experts say that between the 1940s and the early 1980s an estimated 150,000 babies were taken by government and church authorities when unmarried women were prevented from seeing, touching, naming or bonding with their children immediately after birth.

Ms Hendriksen said yesterday that, though Archbishop Hickey's July comments had "re-traumatised a lot of women", she respected him for seeking forgiveness.

Christine Cole, convenor of the NSW-based Apology Alliance which lobbies on the issue, said that Mr Laverty's apology would have international significance.
Ms Cole said that WA had led the nation in addressing the issue after the State Government apologised a year ago to unmarried mothers and their children and families for past adoption practices that separated them.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Catholic Church to Apologise for forced adoptions

July 25, 20119:18AM

THE head of the healthcare arm of the Catholic Church says he is prepared to apologise to the victims of forced adoption practices dating back 50 years.

The flagged apology follows an admission by Catholic Health Australia that "a small number" of church-run hospitals and women's homes maintained unwanted adoption practices from the 1950s to the 1970s.

CEO Martin Laverty says he is prepared to front a Senate inquiry to make an expression of sorrow and regret if such an apology brought healing and comfort to the several women who had their new-born babies forcibly removed.

"These practices of the past are no longer tolerated, nor by today's laws, and are deeply regrettable," he said in a submission to a Senate committee investigating the Commonwealth's contribution to former forced adoption policies and practices.

Mr Laverty said his organisation only became aware of the women's experiences in June.

"We acknowledge the pain of separation and loss felt then and now for the mothers, fathers, children, families and others involved in the practices of the time," Mr Laverty said in the submission to the Senate inquiry.

"For the pain that arises from practices of the past, we are genuinely sorry."

In some cases, the adoption practices had "devastating and ongoing impacts" on families.

"There are likely to be people in our community who continue to live with pain and grief as a result of adoption practices of the past," Mr Laverty said.

Catholic Health Australia is prepared to support the setting up of a framework that would allow the victims of forced adoption to get access to personal medical or social work records to help contact lost family members.

It would also support a fund for "remedying established wrongs".

At least 150,000 Australian women reportedly had their babies taken against their will by some churches and adoption agencies.

Juliette Clough said she was just 16 when she was forced to give up her baby boy at a Catholic-run hospital in Newcastle in 1970.

"They just snatched away the baby," she told ABC Radio, adding at the time her ankles were strapped to the bed and she had been "gassed".

"You weren't allowed to see him or touch him, anything like that, or hold him and it was just like a piece of my soul had died, and it's still dead."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Victorias Trade in Babies

This is the link to the ABC interview.