Qld mothers receive church apology for forced adoptions

IMAGINE you give birth to a baby boy only to have him taken from you moments later.

You spend your following years relentlessly scanning graves and faces in the street, painstakingly hoping for a sign or familiar feature.

Decades later you meet who you have been looking for - a stranger and a son.

He believes he is not wanted and he thinks you gave him away.

This was the story of Margaret Hamilton, "a proud mum and survivor" subjected to a horrific practice that will forever be a shameful mark on Australia's history - forced adoptions.

In 1966, a 19-year-old Ms Hamilton had her baby taken from her at the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

As Australians begin to recognise the horrors inflicted on young women decades ago, Mrs Hamilton and her fellow survivors have received a long awaited apology.

An emotional contingent of mothers, families and friends gathered inside the St John's Cathedral in Brisbane on Tuesday to accept an apology from the Anglican Church.

The church acknowledged forced adoptions occurred at two Anglican homes in Brisbane, St Mary's at Toowong and The Church of England Women's Refuge at Spring Hill.

Brisbane Archbishop Most Reverend Phillip Aspinall acknowledged the pain, suffering and shame inflicted on young mothers who blindly, naively and unwillingly had their new-born babies put up for adoption.

He recalled examples of pregnant women being forced into hard labour, others informed their child had died when really he or she was put up for adoptions while others were given no medical care before or after delivery.

As the full extent of the atrocities were revealed, individual arms were placed around women around the room.
Handkerchiefs were passed on and tears flowed as for many the pain continues.

"Those so deeply affected then still suffer the impact of those circumstances today," the Archbishop Aspinall said.

"Something as simple as seeing a mother and a baby in the street can bring it all back."

That pain and suffering was ever so evident in Ms Hamilton.

"Mothers have waited half a century to have this apology," she said.

Mothers, friends and family joined the church in planting a children's tea rose to mark the apology in Brisbane on Tuesday.