An “Apology” for Abduction

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News came out yesterday about an Australian state apologizing to mothers who were forcibly raped of their newborn babies by baby brokers (in this case the Australian gov’t) and their hospital collaborators.   On a positive note, it is good the the perpetrators are recognizing that what they did to us (yes, same process here in Canada) was wrong, and they had no right to take and withhold babies from mothers.  But would YOU as a mother accept just an apology if YOUR baby had been abducted against your will??

NEWS:  ‘Sorry’ over babies taken from unwed mothers

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Fri Mar 5, 2010 11:02am AEDT

The West Australian Government is set to become the first to publicly apologise to mothers who were unlawfully separated from their babies after giving birth out of wedlock.

The Health Minister, Kim Hames, says he is preparing to read the apology in State Parliament and he wants to see a memorial created for the families affected by the welfare practices during the 1940s to the 1980s.

Dr Hames says in hindsight the practice was cruel.

“What’s happened is that the woman came forward with stories that were very sad and while the practices of the time were seen as appropriate, in the best interests of the mother and the child, when you look back on them they were particularly harsh and these women are still suffering as a result of those practices.”

The Opposition spokesman on Health, Roger Cook, says the apology should be made by the Premier.

“Labor commends the Government for this important gesture to the woman and children who have had their children adopted out over many years but Labor believes that if the Government is genuine in its apology it should be the Premier, not one of his ministers, that comes forward with the apology on behalf of the West Australian people.”


Transcript of the audio clip at of the interview

Dr Hames:  This started last year when i did an interview and offered to apology on behalf government to women who’d been traumatized by the past adoption procedures.  This happened in public and private hospitals, not just in government hospitals. But what’s happened is that the women came forward with stories that were very sad, and while the practices of the time were seen as appropriate and the best interests of the mother and the child, when you look on back at them now they’re particularly harsh, and those women are still suffering as a result of those practices.

So I intend to do something to try to resolve that and the process will probably be that we’ll have a small memorial somewhere to recognize the suffering. and i will do a ministerial statement in Parliament .. comments to to apologize for the suffering those women have been through where government was involved.

Reporter:  Dr. Hames, Will that apology carry any compensation?

Dr. Hames: No it won’t.  And the women who have come and spoken to me about that have not suggestd that they’re seeking any commentsation.  Tt’s really something to go thru the trauma, in fact, last year when I did this, women who’d come forward then Were very happy with my response and i wrote letters to them. In fact the Edward hospital did also, apologizing that those harsh practices that were seen as appropriate had caused so much pain and suffering.

Reporter:  Dr. Hames, it’s hard to believe that these practice were still continuing through the 70s and 80s.

Dr, Hanes:  Well, it went for a long period of time, and in fact I spoke to one woman who seemed to have slipped through the net and at 15 was still treated in a way that was not appropriate for the day.

Nowadays it is a much more reasonable procedure where women wish to give up their child for adoption, where there is a “cooling off period” when women are able to be in their child.  The practice of those day was that the baby upon delivery was immediately taken away, no family members were able to have contact, mother or immediate family.  They never saw that child again. and that was very sad and very hard for thow women to come to terms with the fact that they never even got to touch their own child.

Reporter: Is a public apology going to suffice?

Dr. Hames: Well, it’s what there is, it’s what i’ve been asked for.  The women haven’t come seeking money or seeking anything else. They’ve come seeking an apology. And while this wasnt’ just government obviously, and it was accepted practice of the day, if the women feel an apology will assist in their recovery, there is no reason why I should not give one.”


13 thoughts on “An “Apology” for Abduction

    Lizzy said:
    March 6, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Whilst is laudable for the West Australian Government to offer an apology for the crimes committed against young mothers affected by past adoption practices, it is also unacceptable to dismiss major breaches of the Common law and our human rights obligations of the perpetrators by accepting a few well meaning words.

    As any lawyer would know, one cannot give consent to an unlawful act and that would be the effect of accepting an apology without accountability or acknowledgement.

    Crimes of the magnitude committed against young unprotected mothers include kidnapping, assault, false imprisonment, among a litany of others, and whilst many mothers would seek an easy option to their suffering, their children deserve the same right to know of their experience as the Stolen Generations and the Forgotten Australians.

    Nothing less than a full Senate Inquiry to examine the serious breaches of law is acceptable.

    Lily Arthur Coordinator Origins Inc Supporting People Separated by Adoption
    02 9604 9352

    Lizzy Brew Secretary Origins Inc 0412377454

    Myst1998 said:
    March 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Well said Lizzy.

    “Its what there is” What the? So you are just going to offer a few words that mean nothing to you and hope that appeases the wrongdoing? While the public have no idea what it is you are actually apologising for because there has been no inquiry?

    Just another way of trying to escape accountability. Nice work. Not.

    Thanks for sharing this Cedar.

    Lissa said:
    March 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I second Myst’s comment – well said, Lizzy.

    “if the women feel an apology will assist in their recovery, there is no reason why I should not give one.”

    … he forgot to add ‘SINCERE’.

    No, it was not “accepted as the practice of the day”. The government and their collaborators knew damn well what they were doing was wrong. It was criminal. They profited financially from their actions. They caused irreparable damage and traumatized thousands of women and their children when they forcibly separated and destroyed families.

    This is not acceptable. How about holding those who were guilty in raping mothers of their babies accountable? Will he make known to the public exactly what they did to mothers? And who did it?

    His statement that “women came forward with stories that were very sad” is a slap in the face. Sad doesn’t begin to describe what we live with.

    Lizzy said:
    March 31, 2010 at 4:52 am

    Dear Barbara,
    The soon to be released AIFS Report into past adoption practices will reveal to you what governments across Australia, as well as at federal level, are intending to apologize for.

    ‘…It was common for unwed mothers to relinquish their babies for adoption. This act had the potential for lifelong consequences for the lives of these women and their children, as well as others…’ (AIFS Report, p. 4)

    Keep in mind that to ‘relinquish’ means to ‘voluntarily cease to keep or claim’ (Oxford American Dictionaries).

    That is, they intend to say sorry for your having relinquished your child – an act by which you have brought on yourself the lifelong consequences you suffer. That is not an apology but insincere empathy. That is not admission of the theft of thousands of newborns from the labour wards of of this nation, but a whitewash.

    Lizzy Brew

    Betty said:
    August 12, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Do you not want to be reunited with your stolen child?

      Adoption Critic responded:
      August 12, 2010 at 6:16 am

      Betty, two questions: Who is your question directed to? And, what does any apology have to do with reunion?

    Betty said:
    August 12, 2010 at 7:25 am

    I’m asking Lizzy. I was distressed to read of her loss of her son. Theft is a better word. The child was stolen.

    A forced apology is not an apology at all. How many of these politicians and bureaucrats would be “apologizing” if you had not lit a fire under them?

    A mother and her child are a unit. An inseparable unit. A biological unit. Anyone rending that unit is a devil. They cannot hide behind “we thought it was best for everyone concerned.” But a full inquiry will not help. We think we want something so bad in our life, for something to be made right by official actions, then find we are still empty & full of rage.

    I hope that answers your question.

    I have never had the horrible experience that you did. I have never given up any children and therefore am not pretending to know anything about you.

    Thank you.

    Joan M Wheeler said:
    September 13, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    I am very sorry for what happened to you, Cedar. These are most certainly crimes against mothers and their newborns. My own situation is much different so I can only give words of acknowledgement. My heart breaks for all mothers who endured this harsh treatment.

    Von said:
    October 23, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Commenting now after the event, it appears to have had sincere meaning for many.My own mother spent her life after me in WA.One of my father’s other daughters attended to represent us all.She spoke to many mothers and was witness to the apology.It meant a great deal to me and my family.
    Apologies are a point in time of acceptance or not, from which those who wish to move on are able to.No compensation, legal action or action by Governments or individuals will ever take away the trauma of adoption or the wrongness of how we were all treated, mothers and babies.You can argue all you like about the finer points but in the end adoptees have to live with it as do mothers.

    Izzy Labo said:
    September 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    An Apology is only a first step in the healing process, but it is a crucial one. Lilly Arthur, your leader, has accepted two apologies, one from the Federal govt as a Forgotten Australian and the other as a ward of the State, and received compensation for both: one from the Sisters of Mercy, the other: the Q’land govt – more than $40,000. She has no right rejecting an apology on behalf of mothers and adoptees who have been waiting to be acknowledged by one for decades. The NSW Inquiry listed the illegal practices more than a decade ago. Gaining the WA apology generated huge publicity which exposed to the general community the serious human and civil rights abuses that the NSW Inquiry had previously identified. Why do you feel the need to insult mothers by accusing them of “taking the easy way out” by accepting an apology – you should address your criticisms at Lily Arthur, one of the few mothers who has received apologies and compensation. The apology, that Origins fought hard to sabotage, opened the door to gaining the WA Greens backed Senate Inquiry – if you had been successful there would be NO Senate Inquiry. Yes, the apology emanated from WA and so did the Senate Inquiry – what a coincidence Lizzy. All Origins achieved was the Australian Institute of Family Studies research project, which you have now refused to participate in. I hope you and Lilly wont be hypocrites and take credit for the Senate Inquiry? Just because you asked for one means squat, mothers have been asking for an Inquiry since 1991 – long before you and Lilly joined the movement. Taking credit for the achievement for others is not new to Origins. Mothers gained the NSW Inquiry long before you joined, Lizzy and several months before Arthur did. And to credit one person, now deceased, who you blatantly politicise, for your own aggrandisement, as being the sole person responsible for gaining the NSW Inquiry is an insult to the many mothers who participated in that campaign.

      Lily Arthur said:
      September 20, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      Not that it is any of you business Izzy I recieved my apologies and redress for the abuse I suffered as a ward of the state not for the theft of my firstborn and as for an apology they can do that when I have recieved the same for his theft, as for sabotaging your apology YOU have no right to accept an apolgy for genocide while there are still mothers and adoptees who do not know the crimes that have been committed against them, and YES we wll fight any apology until we feel that mothers and thier stolen children have recieved justice that is the mandate we have from our members

        Lily Arthur said:
        September 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm

        I might also say “get off your backside” and do somthing constuctive about getting justice for mothers and adoptess instead of winging and whining for symapthy and meanlingless aplogies and freeloading off the back of those that are knocking their guts out for nothing and as for the AIFS study we are suppoting it so get your facts straight once again

    Adoption Critic responded:
    September 27, 2011 at 3:37 am

    [Blog Author’s Note: I approved the post by “Izzy” so that her misconceptions could be addressed in case anyone was to believe them. However, comments have also been submitted by others which are nothing but false accusation, slander, and spite. These will not be posted.]

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