A "SHAMEFUL episode of our history" is how NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell described the era of forced adoptions as he delivered a heartfelt apology to the thousands who were failed by the system.
Hundreds of victims sat in the gallery at NSW Parliament House to hear Mr O'Farrell say sorry in person but the officia apology, the first in the state's history, was extended to everyone impacted by a policy which "ignored the fundamental bond between the mother and child and the lifelong trauma caused when that bond is prematurely and brutally severed".
"We are sorry for the forced adoptions practices that severed the fundamental, life-giving bonds between a mother and her child," Mr O'Farrell said
"We say sorry for treating you cruelly and insensitively when what you most needed and deserved was care and support".
The apology stemmed from a time between the 50s and late 70s when about 150,000 unmarried mothers had their babies taken away by churches and government agencies.
Earlier this year Australia's Attorney-General Nicola Roxon established a reference group to advise the Federal Government on the timing and nature of a national apology.