Queensland says sorry for forced adoptions

SHE was not able to touch her son until she was in her early 20s but Margaret Oakhill-Hamilton may finally be able to consider forgiveness.

The more than 35,000 of them from Queensland were given a formal apology by the State Government on Tuesday through Premier Campbell Newman, Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis and Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Ms Oakhill-Hamilton's son is considered one of the "forgotten children" who were taken by force or deception from mothers between 1946 and 1980.

In many cases, the thinking was that an unmarried woman was far less qualified to have a child than an infertile couple.

Scores of these new mothers signed consent forms to give their children away through intimidation, abuse, fear and deceit.

Others had their signatures forged.

Ms Oakhill-Hamilton said in her case, it was because she was unwed.

"There were always infertile couples who (authorities believed) could do a better job than we could," she said.

"The only time I saw my son was at five days old through a glass window."

By the time the pair reunited, her son was 24.

Her experience as a devastated 19-year-old was retold to the Parliament by the Opposition Leader.

For the hundreds able to visit Parliament for the confession, a portion watched from the Parliamentary gallery but most watched a live feed of proceedings.

Wherever they were, the words of the three politicians brought tears to the eyes of many with plenty of parents holding their rediscovered children.

In the speech, Premier Newman said these mothers "were denied a voice, dignity and care and, in many cases, the fulfilment of your of your pregnancy was turned into anguish.

"We regret the untruths that were told to you and about you, and any illegal acts that were perpetrated upon you," he said.

"Today in this Legislative Assembly, we place on the record for future generations and say to all those affected, you have been heard, you are believed and you are not to blame."

After the speech, Ms Oakhill-Hamilton said she was particularly impressed with the Ms Palaszczuk and Ms Davis's speeches.

She said she believed many adopted children may not realise they had been taken from their biological parents, but said she hoped the apology would prompt people to ask the question.

The Adoption Loss Adult Support group, which lobbied for the apology was satisfied with the State Government admitting the forced separations were illegal.

A video and transcript will be available from Wednesday on www.communities.qld.gov.au.


Premier Campbell Newman:

To the mothers whose babies were taken and hidden from them, and who were misled, deceived, threatened or forced to relinquish their babies, we say sorry.

To the sons and daughters taken from their mothers, we also say sorry and express our deep regret for the trauma that many of you have suffered.


Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk:

We are here today, on this historic day, to say sorry to these mothers, their now adult children, and to the children's fathers, siblings, grandparents and other family members. Today, to women like Margaret and Trish and Glenda, the Labor Members of this place offer our apology for the wrongs done.

To unwed young women and their children of the past we offer our hope that there will be healing for the pain, the grief and the guilt experienced.

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