Losing My Daughter (part 1)

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Losing My Daughter
Page 1 of 18

In January of nineteen sixty-seven, I relinquished my baby daughter for adoption. She was born on the twenty ninth of December 1966. I was sixteen at the time of her birth.

These are the circumstances leading up to her relinquishment:

I am one of the Forgotten Australians. I was incarcerated in a Catholic convent - Mount Saint Canice, a Magdalene laundry in Hobart Tasmania, from the age of twelve until I was fifteen years and seven months. I believe I am a victim twice over of a society that had no regard or time for my welfare.

I believe that an account of my years spent in Mount Saint Canice is important to my story because it shows that I was a vulnerable person, who had already been seriously affected by incarceration, and that this was not addressed or corrected in any way. That this led to further suffering for me and so many other people in a similar position.

In the December 1965, I was released from Mount Saint Canice and allowed to live in a girl’s hostel in Hobart. I had been taken from the home by a carer to help me find work at the government employment service. I was offered work in a women’s clothing store in Hobart. After I had worked there for a couple of weeks, one of the nuns called me aside to say that there was a hostel in the city that they thought might be more convenient for me. My family did not have any interest in what happened to me, so it was left to the nuns to decide what I should do. I had been no trouble to them during my years in their custody and they felt it was time I left the home.

The hostel was pleasant. I was amazed to be free of bars and bells, and all the restrictions, which had become part of my daily life while in the convent. It was really quite a weird feeling. For more detail please refer to my submission on my incarceration in Mount Saint Canice.

Christmas came and passed, and I was doing well in my job. I had no idea what I wanted from my life. I viewed myself as an unworthy person. I tried to keep my time in Mount Saint Canice a secret to all, as this was a bad place to have come from in the eyes of the people I knew. This stigma was to remain with me for most of my life.

I saw very little of my father. He was angry because the nuns had let me out of Mount Saint Canice. When I did see him, he was quick to tell me that if I lost my job or cost him any money, he would send me back to the convent. This was a threat and fear that would remain with me all my life in some form or another. It was a valid fear since a young person could be made a ward of the state at the time until they were aged twenty-one. I saw many girls returned to the home over the years.

 

The following pages tell of the forced adoption of my daughter in 1967.