Mothers disappointed by Barnett's apology
Nicolas Perpitch From: The Australian October 20, 2010 12:00AM
YOUNG unmarried mothers who had their babies forcibly adopted in Western Australia up until the 1980s have received an apology.
But they believe Colin Barnett's apology yesterday does not go far enough in addressing their pain and trauma.
In an Australian first, the Premier yesterday apologised on behalf of the state to the women, their children and families "who were adversely affected by these past adoption practices".
Mr Barnett also expressed sympathy "to those individuals whose interests were not best served by the policy of those times" and said the government recognised that in some cases it caused long-term anguish and suffering.
Between the 1940s and 80s thousands of unmarried women across the state had their babies taken from them immediately after birth, consistent with a view that married, adoptive parents were better suited to care for the children.
The mothers were sometimes told they were amoral. At birth, they could be blindfolded and heavily drugged and were not allowed to form any bond with their child. Often they were sent home from hospital and told to forget the birth had happened.
Rhonda Maley was sent 400km from Geraldton to Perth to have her baby 46 years ago and was not even told she had had a girl. She and her daughter, Leonie Reynolds, have since reunited and were yesterday at parliament for the apology.
Ms Maley said it did not acknowledge the pain she went through. "To give up a baby and never see it again, to have it taken away from you, it's not humane."
Sue McDonald, one of the mothers instrumental in the push for an apology, said the announcement did not address their pain and suffering.
Labor MP David Templeman said WA needed to acknowledge the great injustice done to the women, who have not sought compensation.
"We need to acknowledge there were state-sanctioned adoption practices that were wrong, often brutal and in many cases illegal," he said.