UK & World News
Forced Adoptions: Australia Says Sorry
Australia is apologising to up to 150,000 mostly unmarried mothers who were forced to give up their children for adoption during the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
The women were either tricked or forced to sign adoption papers by medical and welfare professionals who believed it was in the best interest of the babies.
There were even cases of women being strapped to their hospital beds or sedated as their newborn children were taken away.
Gaye Kelly gave birth aged just 15 and was told if she did not sign adoption papers her new baby girl would end up in an orphanage.
She told Sky News: "I was crying and crying and crying and then the nurse came and said: 'what's up with you?' and I said: 'I don't want to give my baby up for adoption, I want to keep my baby', and she snapped at me: 'Girls like you don't keep their babies, stop being silly, pull yourself together' and she about faced and just left."
Gaye tracked down - and was eventually reunited with - her daughter but only after years of depression and heartache.
"I cried on her birthday every year for 18 years and then, on her 19th birthday, I got to ring her and say happy birthday. It was one of the happiest days of my life".
New South Wales is the latest Australian state to make a formal apology, with the federal government expected to make a national apology next year.
In 2008 the then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the so-called stolen generation, thousands of aboriginal children removed from their parents over many decades.
Now Australia is saying sorry again, not only to mothers but to adoptees like David Andersen who has only recently made contact with his natural mother.
"The nurse told my mother that I had died," he said. "Then, 52 years later, she gets a letter from someone saying I was born on this particular date and I think we could be related."
The apologies are an acknowledgement for adopted children that they "weren't thrown away by our mothers", he added.
Other countries, including the UK where similar adoptions were carried out, are monitoring the situation closely.
Lily Arthur, who campaigns on behalf of the Australian victims of forced adoptions, said: "The torch that we carry is leading the way for the rest of the world.
"Mothers have begun to speak up about the wrong that has been done to them and that's a good thing."