parents

'I never wanted to meet my mother'

 

 

UPDATE: In NSW today, Premier Barry O’Farrell delivered an historic address, apologising to the parents and children who were the victims of forced adoption. He said the parliament acknowledged the “the terrible wrongs that were done, and with profound sadness and remorse say to those living with ongoing grief and pain, we are sorry”.

Premier O’Farrell’s speech follows similar apologies from the SA and WA parliaments over the policy of previous governments. Approximately 150,000 children were removed from their unwed mothers between the 1950s and the 1970s.
Bern Morley was one of them. She writes:

I am adopted. My brother is adopted. No, we are not “blood” brother and sister as is often asked. I used to think that a weird question. Like, did people think Mum and Dad found some baby making duo who  had my brother, handed him over and then 2.5 years later, gave them me as well? But now I realise people thought we came as a package.  That Mum and Dad took the two of us on, me at birth and Les as a toddler. I get that now.

But no, my brother has his own story and I, mine.

In 1974, my mother fell pregnant to her boyfriend and being the “good Catholic girl” that she was, had me in June 1975 and immediately put me up for adoption. I am unsure whether she ever got to hold me. Or see me. From what I gather, she wasn’t given the option to keep me. She wasn’t married, she was barely 19 and she had parents who wouldn’t have it any other way.

I wonder what it must have been like. To feel me kicking inside her, to go into what I’m guessing was a painful labour, and then to hand me over to the nurse without even being granted a glance at the baby she had just given birth to. I feel so incredibly sad for her. After having given birth to three babies myself, I can’t even fathom how she would have coped with her grief. Her pain.  Her loss.

But life goes on. Hers and mine.

My childhood was a typical Australian one. It involved being forced into playing backyard cricket with my older brother, riding bikes, playing in the local creek, recycling cans for pocket money.  The usual.

I grew up, stuff went down as it does with all families, but one thing I remember vividly was that Mum was extremely open with us about being adopted. She made absolutely no secret about it and I guess that’s why it never felt like a massive deal to me. Well until I hit 18 that was.

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I got this sudden urge to find my “real” mother. This wasn’t because I suddenly didn’t want Betty as my Mum any more or love her any less, it was because I wanted to know why I looked like I look. Curiosity. But you know what they say about curiosity don’t you? Yep and I didn’t even have a cat to kill. As it turned out, it certainly was not the right reason to interrupt established lives and luckily I was counselled out of going any further before I did. I truly am grateful for this.

I did manage to get identifying information which gave me some details about my mother and father.  Their country of origin, their eye colours and builds. I also learnt some medical history (double mastectomy in grandmother – eek) that is terribly important. I can’t tell you over my life how many times a doctor has asked me if anyone in my family has say for instance, a heart condition, and I’ve just had to say “I don’t know, I’m adopted”.

When I was about 19, I received the following letter from Lyn, my biological mother;

Hi,

Wish I knew a name to call you, I don’t feel I have the right to call you daughter. I have thought often of writing but didn’t know where to start.

I often think of how you are, my biggest worry has been that you have been safe and happy.

It’s funny when I fell pregnant with you I was still so incredibly naive and went through it all in a blur. Ian, your father, and I , had been going out for years but it’s funny, I just never thought of marrying him. I haven’t seen him for a long, long time but I hear that he became a wanderer and isn’t married now.

I’ve been married to a great guy, Rod for 14 years now. He knows about you and has been at me for years to contact you. We have 3 beautiful boys, who do their share of fighting. Ryan is 12, Luke, 10 and Joshua is 6. I guess I’ve been punished in a way because we would dearly love a girl but..

My family, my parents mainly, never spoke of you. I had the apple of my father’s eye and it took many years before he spoke to me again – Good Catholics!

I’ve gone back to work after twelve years and so far am really enjoying it.

Belinda, that’s what I named you at birth, I hope with all my heart that you have had a happy life and forgive me for giving you up. I still believe in my heart it was the best for you.

Hope this finds you well and happy,

Lyn

After that I had no questions. It was like I was, and excuse me for being a bit wanky for a sec, at peace. I no longer had the urge to know more.  Sure, I found it interesting to know I had three half brothers out there somewhere and yes I did wonder about them for some time. But time passes, I have my own family to care for and to be honest, I have a mother and a brother. And they were the best that anyone could ask for. Love was on tap – what more do you need?

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I recently found this letter after going through my mums stuff (after she passed away). My brother and I agree, it’s like we were puppies in a pet store. Plus I cost 5 bucks. Bargain.

It reads:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Clarke,

There is now a baby girl born XXst June, 1975 available for adoption. The baby weighed 8lbs 4 ozs at birth.

The mother of the child is a single girl aged 19, a Student Nurse by occupation with Junior standard education. She has brown hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, is 5′ 7″ in height and of medium build. She is of Australian nationality.

The father of the child is aged 22, single, a motor mechanic by occupation with Junior standard education. He has blond hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, is 5′ 8″ in height and of slim build. He is of Australian nationality.

If you would like to see this baby, would both journey to Brisbane as soon as possible. Please call this office between 9am – 2:30pm on any week day so that the necessary authority to see the child may be given to you.

If you do not wish to see the infant, kindly communicate with me immediately so that I may offer her to someone else.

Would I be different today had I been raised by Lyn? Hard to say. Nature over nurture? Would I still be me but with different friends and family? In a different job? Who knows? All I do know is that I wouldn’t change a thing.

On 4 June 2010, the Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Conference (CDSMC) announced that Ministers had agreed to a joint national research study into past adoption practices, to be conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The focus of this study is on understanding current needs and obtaining information to support improved service responses for individuals affected by past adoption practices, and is the largest study of past adoption practices ever conducted in this country.

If you think this study could relate to you, click HERE to participate.

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