Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hurts of forced adoption must now be healed.

12 August 2012.
IT'S a national scandal, affecting thousands of Australians, that until recently was spoken of only in hushed tones.
While it is sometimes claimed that those involved in the forced adoptions of babies from unwed mothers in the 1950s to 1970s thought they were doing the right thing, the true extent of this cruel chapter in our history is only now beginning to be revealed.

A Senate committee report into the issue earlier this year opened a window into the true extent of the cruelty dished out, including birth certificates marked for adoption against the mother's will, and women drugged with sedatives and pressured to sign adoption papers and later denied information about the fate of their children.

On Tuesday the ACT will join Western Australia, South Australia and soon Tasmania in making a formal apology to both the women and children affected by the so-called coercive adoption practices meted out to an estimated 150,000 mothers around the country.
The federal government also recently indicated its intention to make a national apology on the issue and has established a reference group to advise on the timing and form that apology should take.
It has taken more than half a century, and even today some victims are only now making contact with their lost children. For many, a national apology cannot come soon enough, as thousands of Australians continue to suffer. Yet an apology on its own is not enough.
Many women, and their adult children, continue to battle the significant cost and bureaucratic red tape involved in tracking the birth families. It is a long, difficult and sometimes expensive battle to unearth the truth.

If the federal government is serious about righting the wrongs of the past, and bringing some form of closure for those affected, its planned apology must go further than just the symbolic.
It should include financial assistance to help those seeking the truth, a determination to collect, centralise and make available important historical records to those who have a birthright to see them and special counselling services to assist those still traumatised by their forced separation.
There is much the federal bureacracy can do to help these people find and recover records, especially with the state and territory based apologies showing a real willingness to help those affected.
Governments can assist the healing process by taking important steps like apologising. The importance of doing so, and the impact it can have on victims, should not be underestimated.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/opinion/hurts-of-forced-adoption-must-now-be-healed-20120811-2419p.html#ixzz23Uu0tQtZ

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