Tearful calls for forced adoption inquiry rejected

  • 27/06/2017
Forced adoption inquiry baby (Getty)
Photo credit: Getty / file

Women who sat in tears sharing their stories of being made to give up their babies through forced adoption have been refused an inquiry into the practice.

Parliament's social services committee has rejected a petition by Maggie Wilkinson who called for a full investigation into the practice, which saw hundreds of children put up for adoption between the 1950s and 1990s against their mothers' wishes.

Mrs Wilkinson was one of a number of women who travelled to Wellington to present and hear evidence given to the committee in a campaign she's been working on for decades.

While she's disappointed by the outcome, Mrs Wilkinson told NZ Newswire it was the result she was expecting.

She said it seemed to her and her supporters that they'd been treated with "indifference, an attitude we have become forced to live with".

There were some positives in the process, which began with presenting the petition to Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern.

"I had not met the women who spoke before and my life is all the better for having met them, so it has not been all bad," she said.

"We have educated and put our experiences into the public eye [and] fortunately have not received the hatred of years gone by."

In a report from the committee, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the committee acknowledged the "pain and suffering" women like Mrs Wilkinson and their children went through, but a majority found an inquiry wasn't the best way to deal with the issue.

"Although we do not agree with many adoption practices from the 1950s to the 1980s, we note that these practices reflected the social values and attitudes of the time," the majority found.

But Labour and the Green Party were the holdouts, with Jan Logie, Carmel Sepuloni and Phil Twyford presenting minority views.

"We cannot undo what has been done before but we can stop the denial and silence and support people to move forward," Ms Logie's Green Party minority view says.

In their statement the party hit out at evidence presented to the committee by the Ministry of Vulnerable Children, which did not address the specific questions presented by Mrs Wilkinson and her backers, who also disputed parts of the official evidence.

They're backing a broad and full inquiry and an apology.

The Labour Party also backs ongoing calls for an investigation.

"We moved a motion at select committee for an inquiry to be carried out; however, unfortunately this was costed down by the Government members of the committee," the Labour minority view in the report says.

The first calls for an inquiry were to former National MP Trevor Rogers in 1992.