The Diocese of Brisbane has offered its apology to those harmed by forced adoptions.
The diocese “sincerely apologises to the mothers, fathers and babies, now adults, who have experienced hurt, distress and harm as a result of past forced adoption practices in homes which operated in the name of the Church. We are aware that these practices occurred at St Mary’s Home at Toowong and the Church of England Women’s Refuge in Spring Hill,” the statement printed on the diocesan website said.
An Australian Senate inquiry found forced adoptions were widespread across Australia from the 1950s to the 1970s for unwed or unfit mothers. In February the senate recommended church agencies, the government and other entities involved in coercing unwed mothers to give up their children for adoption offer an apology for their actions.
Up though the 1970’s, Australian adoption practice favoured a “clean break” practice that kept the names and locations of birth parents and children secret, so that the adoptive parents were free to raise the children as if they had been born to them. The practice was gradually ended however, with the enactment of adoption reform laws in the 1980s.
The Brisbane statement said the senate “inquiry heard that mothers’ consent to have their babies taken for adoption was often coerced and, in some cases, was not obtained at all. Often fathers were excluded completely from this process. It heard that mothers were denied access to information about their babies, including birth records and information about their child’s survival or well-being. Those adopted babies have often not had access to accurate records of their birth and parentage.”
It was “with deep sadness and regret, this Diocese acknowledges that mothers suffered emotional trauma and abuse in these adoption processes. We apologise that they were subjected to shame, isolation and humiliation while in the care of homes operated by the Anglican Church. The Church acknowledges that the resulting grief and loss for both parents and children is ongoing and significant.”
The diocese apologized for its “failings” and would “assist those who suffered harm while in our care in the past.”