After my tour of South-East Queensland libraries and bookstores this spring, I am astonished by the number of people who have been touched by forced adoptions.
To this day the subject remains taboo. Some have discovered entire families – parents, siblings, aunts, grandparents – that they never knew existed. Here are a few examples. (All the names have been changed for reasons of privacy.)
Emily is a woman of thirty-something and the youngest of five. Last year (2014) she discovered that the eldest of the family was an unknown brother. Before her parents married, they’d had a child who’d been given up for adoption. No-one else knew because it was a closely-guarded secret. Emily is still trying to come to terms with her eldest brother’s existence. She says ‘my life has been a lie.’ Feelings of anguish and disappointment haunt her.
On the flip side is Candice, who always knew she’d been adopted. Recently she tracked down her genetic parents. After relinquishing her as a baby, they had gone on to marry and have other children. There was an entire happy family of younger brothers and sisters, when she’d been raised as an only child. Her anger is palpable. ‘Why they didn’t want me?’
Tom was in his forties when his parents passed away. At the funeral a close family friend dropped the bombshell. ‘Of course, you know you’re adopted.’ He did not. In fact the idea had never crossed his mind. Grief gave way to shock and frustration. Both (adoptive) parents were in their graves, so it was too late to demand an explanation.
Miriam began her life in an orphanage. Later she was adopted by foster parents and had ‘a wonderful childhood’. As an adult she embarked on a journey to find her other family. The story uncovered thus far has been a roller-coaster ride. Her birth mother, one of the ‘stolen generation’, had been raised in an institution and was sexually abused by a clergyman who was responsible for her care. Several other full and half siblings, who were also adopted, are spread across Australia. Miriam believes there are two brothers still unaccounted for. She is determined to find them both, and I wish her well in her search.
In writing Baby Farm I hoped to highlight the fallout from forced adoptions in the hope it might help those affected.
Silence needs to be broken. Experiences need to be shared. Only then can healing begin to happen.