After 49 years the ache is still there. The ache I felt when I realised I'd signed away all of my rights as a mother, the ache I felt when I saw this tiny bundle, behind glass with a bottle in her mouth so I couldn't get a proper look before being whisked away by parents who didn't speak of her again for 21 years. My story has a happier ending than most. When my daughter was 16 I lost another daughter who was still born. My life came tumbling down around my ears. My husband came home to me curled in a ball on the bathroom floor inconsolable. All the grief I had suppressed all those years made me feel like I was being crushed and some irrational part of my brain made me think I was going to lose all of my children one way or another. Years of therapy led me to the source of years of depression and pain. When my Mother went overseas a couple of years later I felt strong enough (worthy enough) to make some tentative searches for my daughter. I didn't want to cause her pain, disrupt her life, cause her adoptive family any anguish. I researched any and all info I could find on how to reconnect with her. In the end after applying for her birth certificate, locating her family on the electoral roll, I sent a certified letter. The joy, relief and anxiety I felt when I received a response cannot be written. My daughter now lives across the road from me. I am blessed. I know that most mothers are never reunited with their children and if they are, it's not always a happy story. But for all that, my heart still aches and nothing will ever make it stop. I attended the apology anniversary in Parliament House last week, I felt the ache, I wondered what use was an apology when every time I think about my experience the ache returned. But then I realised, now there is acknowledgement and for some, the chance to begin a healing process that I started many years ago. It's ongoing but now sometimes the heartache is good and we're finally building some happy memories together.
I have shared but a small part of my story. My journey has been both happy and sad but I feel that we, my daughter, her adoptive family and myself have survived even though we all bear some scars. I hope all levels of government learn that helping families stay together is be a priority.