Adoptive Mother

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This exhibition was so confronting I felt sick and had to leave to hurry to the Ladies'. I realised that nothing will ever make up to my troubled adopted son for what happened to him, even though my own experience with him was happy -- at least personally. He was such a beautiful child I never felt deprived; I did not think I could possibly have made anything so wonderful myself. Even so, I don't think adoptive parents are thought about at all. I always faced criticism and remarks about not 'really' being his mother, and not being able to feel the right feelings or knowing what it 'really' felt like.

Since the Apology, I'm now seen as having almost ripped that child from his 'true' mother's arms. When I adopted in 1966, this is what you did and it was offered and approved. If I couldn't have a child one way -- my husband was infertile -- then I gained one another way. There was no difference: in fact, my husband's family's genetic inheritance was quite bad (the study of genetics was just coming in then) that I felt this was 'meant.' As soon as the nurse at The Women's Hosptial Paddington pointed out the baby I could have, he was mine and I never felt differently. But his own experience hasn't been as happy. Why? Because of what people said to him? My husband at the time didn't bond with him; he was always the reminder of what he in his masculine ego couldn't accomplish. Even my son's first wife told me I wasn't really his mother as I didn't 'bear him from my body.' I remember what was written up in the waiting-room: "Not flesh of my flesh or bone of my bone/But still particularly my own/Never forget for even a minute/You grew not under my heart, but in it."

Now my son at nearly 50 has a happy marriage and his own daughter. I hope this goes some way towards making up for a bad beginning ... but whose fault was it? We all do the best we can with what we have at the time. Placing blame does not help. No one set out to make rules that would render others unhappy.


I am now close to 80 and live in the ACT where I made a teaching career move a long time ago. I am on my third marriage, to a man I knew in primary school. My first marriage failed partly because of issues with the adoption of a baby boy in 1966.