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It has been 40 years but not a day goes by when I relive the shame, and complete and utter hopelessness of being pregnant at 16 in a rural area. It was not long before I was hidden away and ultimately sent off to an institution in Sydney to join 'like-minded' girls like me! This was a humiliating and ingratiating experience that I will never forget. Eventually I gave birth at a Sydney Hospital, where I was treated (along with my colleagues) like a piece of 'the proverbial'! I had a hideous birth with Pethidine, an episiotomy and a forceps delivery. The midwife's words will never leave me; at the time of the birth she said to the student midwife (who was my guardian angel), "Don't let her look at it, she got herself in this position, these girls are all the same ..."
After leaving the hospital, my family arranged for me to fly home ... It was expected that I say absolutely nothing about what happened and was taken away on a 'holiday', which coincidentally was arranged around the time which I had to revoke the adoption (30 days after the birth). I was allowed a photo of my baby from the adoptive parents, and I did receive this, it became tattered .... and then lost. I had nothing to hang on to to remind me of the baby I had.

I was never offered counselling, never allowed to talk to anyone about what happened, and I ended my relationship with the father, not long after having my baby, as he too, got away with everything, and I found out later, never told his parents about what had happened.

I did meet with my daughter after she contacted me when she was in her mid 20s. I was married and had children of my own, but my husband would not allow me to tell them about my experience with my adopted baby. The first contact was overwhelming and so completely different to what I expected, but my children and my adopted child could not break the barriers and this became an increasing challenge. I found that contact with me became further and further down the 'must do list', and now we have no further contact.

I try to remain patient and give my daughter time to adjust to her own life, she will also be going through her own turmoils.

I feel so cheated by society at the time, and will never forget the shame we experienced. My best friend when I was at the institution refused to adopt her child out and I often wonder what her story was, we never kept in contact.

My mother still believes she did the 'right thing' and I often think it is because of this belief that my daughter and I have not been able to have the reunion most would like 'us' to have, there are no fairytales with our story, and I hope others have been able to enjoy their reunions if they have had the chance. Don't get lost in the expectation, take it slowly and learn how to get to know one another all over again.

 

Do not expect a fairytale ending when you arrange a reunion with your adopted child, the lost years have different effects on everyone involved. It is a very personal journey, and one that bears with it much trauma. Remain strong as you always have had to be ...