Women who lost children to adoption during the so-called "baby scoop" era fear their stories will be left out of an inquiry into state and church abuse.

It's been seven months since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed she was considering options to examine New Zealand's forced adoption history, including a select committee inquiry.

There's been no update and Ardern's office won't shed light on what, if anything, is happening.

The silence comes as a huge inquiry into historic abuse of children in state and church care is set to begin.

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The Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions will be able to hear evidence from early next year.

Women affected by forced adoption have asked for that work to include their stories.

A spokeswoman for Ardern said adoption was covered by the inquiry, but referred the Herald to the commission for confirmation.

That couldn't be provided yet, a commission spokeswoman said.

"Our legal counsel headed by Simon Mount QC is reviewing the terms of reference along with the chair Sir Anand Satyanand and newly appointed commissioners who have just come on board.

"The chair and the commissioners will subsequently develop an approach on how to proceed – including what is in and out of scope, what will be delivered and when. A series of public announcements will then be made about how the inquiry will run early next year."

Sir Anand Satyanand and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announce the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions in November. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Sir Anand Satyanand and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announce the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions in November. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The commission will submit a final report in January 2023. There have been concerns that deadline is too tight, particularly given the extension to cover churches. Increasing the scope would create more pressure.

The Australian Government formally apologised in 2013 for its estimated 250,000 forced adoptions, after an inquiry concluded many young women were deceived and threatened into giving up their babies.

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In August, Pope Francis issued a sweeping apology while in Ireland for the past actions of the Catholic Church, and assured mothers it wasn't a sin to look for children they lost after going into homes for unwed mothers. They had been told for decades that it was.

The New Zealand Anglican and Catholic churches have pledged to assist an inquiry into adoption practices, as have organisations including the Salvation Army, which ran a number of homes where unwed mothers stayed ahead of giving birth.

An unknown number of young New Zealanders had their newborns taken from them and adopted out to married couples during the so-called "baby scoop" era, from the 1950s to 1970s.

Waihi woman Maggie Wilkinson was one of them, and her petition for an inquiry was presented to Parliament last year by Ardern, then the Opposition's justice spokeswoman

"It's hard to even know the scale of forced adoption here, but surely the least we can do is look rather than pretend it didn't happen?" Ardern wrote on Facebook at the time.

In May her office confirmed to the Herald that options being considered to examine New Zealand's forced adoption history included a select committee inquiry. However, there's been no update since.

Christine Hamilton was one of the women who in March last year appeared before a select committee to speak in support of the forced adoption petition.

Her son was born in 1973 at St Vincent's Home of Compassion in Auckland, and she was given a cocktail of drugs before, during and after birth.

Hamilton's requests to see her son were denied. They were reunited when he was an adult, but the reunion was fleeting, given the emotional pain.

Now living in Australia, she plans on returning to Parliament in the New Year, along with Wilkinson. She said her letters to ministers are not replied to, and she felt turning up in person was necessary.

"There must be some compassion somewhere," she said.