With the Prime Minister's apology to those affected by the forced adoption policies through the 1950s until the 1970s, ABC Open has brought together a groundbreaking national project allowing the mothers and children to tell their story in their words and their pictures. Meet some of the people to whom Prime Minister Gillard has apologised.
The Prime Minister's apology to those affected by the policies of forced removal and adoption of babies during the 1950s up until the 1970s has been welcomed - both by the children who have grown up and found out they were adopted and by the women whose babies were taken from them.
It is estimated some 250,000 children were taken from their mothers in that period.
Over the past months ABC Open has been collecting stories from these people in a national project entitled 'Separated', containing images, first person accounts and interviews from the parents and children affected by these policies.
The images and stories uncover dark secrets of Australia's past, where unmarried women who became pregnant were pressured and forced to give up their new babies, and generations of Australians who have spent their lives recovering from revelations that their origins were not what they had grown up believing in.
Lina Eve is one of women who have shared their experiences of the treatment of young unmarried women who became pregnant during this era.
"I was 17 and found myself pregnant to my first boyfriend. I was reading a women's magazine and they said Crown Street hospital helped women who were pregnant and unmarried. I decided to travel from Melbourne to Sydney and go to Crown Street hospital seeking help.
"Each time I saw the social worker it seemed she had more reasons why it would be better for the baby if I signed adoption papers. At that point I was still very adamant that I wanted to keep my baby..." she says.
"When I arrived at Crown Street hospital about to have my baby I was shoved into a room and left on my own... when eventually they came in and I must have been fully dilated they were yelling at me to push... right at that last moment of pushing they held a pillow in front of my face the whole time my baby was coming out, so I couldn't see what I had given birth to; I thought there must have been something really wrong.
Many of the participants in Separated have a similiar story of finding out much later in life they were adopted, including Murray Legro, who began life in Launceston but only found out much later there was much more to the story.
"From what I can gather I was born in February in 1950 in a Salvation Army home in Launceston; my mother was coerced and forced by her parents and the matron [to give Murray up for adoption]... I was adopted at 6 weeks by elderly people; in fact my father was legally too old to adopt me, he was 53... I was not informed I was adopted until I was 34, when I received a birth certificate from the Tasmanian government prior to posting to RAAF Butterworth, showing that I was born in Launceston... and my birth was registered in 1984. And I said 'wow'," he chuckles.
He says finding out he was adopted in his 30s was life-changing, and the ramifications continue.
"It changed the world completely; it was illogical, that you felt you'd lived a complete lie, your past was shot to pieces, it's only with a lot of rationalisation that you realise you've lived your life, you're still you - it's just the heritage you thought you had is kaput - gone. I don't blame my adoptive parents because I believe they were a product of their time where they thought they were doing the right thing."
Watching the apology in Canberra
Murray Legro has travelled to Canberra to witness first-hand the Prime Minister's apology, and says there's a lot of anticipation among the gathered people at Parliament House.
"I'm nervous but I am confident there will be a sincere apology followed up with concrete action," he says."
"I'm hoping that there's funding to train people to handle people with adoption issues, also funding to ensure that people that are severely affected will get that help they need with medical and psychological support on a needs basis."
He says everyone has different expectations and hopes for the apology and follow-up action.
"I'm really hoping everyone comes away with something, so we can draw a line in the sand with that chapter and move forward, with the acknowledgement that the governments and the institutions of the day were wrong."
See previous coverage of forced adoptions on this Indymedia site at http://www.indymedia.org.au/2011/03/06/senate-inquiry-into-forced-adopti.... I suggest you add your future comments here to make it all more accessible. - One of the site's editors.