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State Government unveils memorial to past forced adoptions

A memorial to parents, adoptees and families who suffered loss through forced adoptions was unveiled by Premier Jay Weatherill on Thursday 14 July, four years after he apologised in State Parliament for policies that allowed the forced removal of children from their mothers.

The Past Forced Adoptions Commemorative Public Artwork – on the bank of the River Torrens near the Adelaide University footbridge – was created by the artists Deb Jones and Christine Chowela. The project was directed by a steering committee that included community representation.

Named ‘The Space Between,’ the memorial consists of a large block of polished granite that has been separated, signifying the split of one part from the other, and a nearby boulder where people can sit and contemplate.

The dedication on the memorial reads: This artwork is for all those whose lives have been profoundly affected by adoption separation practices – for the loss suffered by many, for the ongoing grief and pain experienced by Mothers who lost their children, and for Adoptees who lost their identity, heritage and family.

The memorial artwork was commissioned by Relationships Australia South Australia who consulted with community groups, and funded by the Department of Education and Child Development.

On 18 July 2012 in the South Australian Parliament, Premier Jay Weatherill apologised on behalf of all South Australians for past adoption policies and practices that saw the forced removal of many children from their mothers.

“The mothers, fathers and those adopted as children were denied the opportunity to love and care for each other, and I recognise the profound and long-lasting traumatic impact of that loss.

I hope that this memorial, on the peaceful banks of the River Torrens, will provide a reflective space for those who suffered,” the Premier said.

In the Australian Parliament on 21 March 2013, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered the National Apology for forced adoptions.

These apologies followed the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices. This inquiry confirmed the long-term negative effects of forced adoption practices, which happened between the 1950s and the late 1970s.

“This artwork is a place of public acknowledgement and of bringing out into the open that which for so many years was silenced.

These two pieces of granite, the sitting stone and the message stones, make a strong statement and their presence cannot be denied as they stand up against the shaming, ostracism and silencing of the past.

This is an art work that recognises the space between those who were separated by adoption, and of the importance of recognising their interconnectedness across the space,” said Judith Cross, CEO, Relationships Australia South Australia.

‘The Space Between,’ the Forced Adoptions Commemorative Public Artwork – on the bank of the River Torrens provides a permanent and reflective space for those who have endured so much grief and loss.

For support, please find information about our Post Adoption Support Services here or our Forced Adoption Support Services here.