I attended my first event to honour the Queensland Government’s apology for past forced adoption practices two years ago. I’d never thought to attend the apology in parliament house or the first anniversary events because I believed they had nothing to do with me.
When I reunited with my mother at age nineteen, she told me I was not a forced adoption. She said it as though to wave away the notion that a terrible trauma had occurred. She said that she wasn’t drugged, restrained or forced to sign paperwork to ‘relinquish’ me for adoption as had happened to many. She was benchmarking her experience against those of others and was dismissing her own as a lesser event. At the time, I was relieved.
I know better now.
I was adopted in Queensland in 1971, at the pinnacle of the Australian closed adoption era, when the stigma of illegitimacy was a worst-case scenario for unmarried mothers and their babies. My mother was expelled from her home and travelled north to Queensland holding a small hope of finding a way to keep me, but found only closed doors. She worked throughout her pregnancy to support herself and on the day I was born we parted ways without ever sighting or touching each other. What choice did she have but to place me for adoption? How can it be said that it was not forced?
“Consents obtained from unmarried mothers who were not fully informed of alternatives to adoption, were unaware of the consequences of adoption, or were influenced or manipulated by authority figures including their parents, doctors, social workers and church figures, cannot be said to be informed consent.” National Forced Adoption Exhibition, 2012.
When I attended my first anniversary event at Roma St Parklands...held the day before my birthday, I arrived as someone seeking to support and acknowledge the loss of others and when I departed, it was as an adoptee acknowledging my own loss through forced adoption policies and practices and those of my mother who was cornered into a checkmate position by society, her parents and the government. It was a moving experience, a healing one and incredibly hopeful as I was surrounded by others with shared experiences.
The Queensland Post Adoption Working Committee (Jigsaw Queensland, The Benevolent Society, ALAS and Origins and Association for Adoptees Inc) are hosting a morning tea to honour the 4th anniversary of the Queensland Government’s Apology for Past Forced Adoption Practices on Sunday, 27th November at 10.30am at Memorial Corner in Roma St Parklands (1 Parklands Blvd, Brisbane City). You can RSVP on (07) 3170 4600 or PASQ@benevolent.org.au.
If you’d like to find out more about past forced adoption policies and practices or seek support, go to www.jigsawqueensland.com or phone them on (07) 3358 6666 or 1800 21 03 13 (Qld only).