Monday, 13 January 2014

WHAT'S IN A NAME

This topic will be a controversial one I am sure especially amongst the adoptee community. it will explore the emotion versus the realism of the family name and its heritage. I value the heritage of my natural family but not enough to want to change my surname and thus confuse the generations that have followed from my loins so to speak.  Many among us say we had no choice when they changed our names.  The fact is that we had no choice when we were named and often live with that consequence.

A surname or family name is described in the following Wikipedia link

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surname


Whilst it is not a legitimate source for the sake of this paper it's definition is sufficient . needless to say the surname is used to identify which group you wee born in to. It can be used to identify the traditional occupation of old, the location from where the family came, especially in Great Britain. I harked back to the days when country folk needed a means of identifying where they were from when they migrated to cities, or their occupation.

This has evolved to today where it is a formal means of identification for legal purposes.  However, the family surname may not be accurate for heritage purposes as we adoptee's know. Our name has been given to identify us as members of the family who has adopted us.  Some folk say this is legal identity theft, but in fact it is basically changing your identity so that you fit in with the adoptive family as you, well nowadays you, are now legally a part of that family and the adoptive parents have bestowed upon you all rights including rights to inheritance. I know some will say i was excluded from the my a/parents will etc and all i can say back is why didn't you engage a lawyer to represent your interests, because you would have received your fair share if you had showed a will to claim your rightful inheritance.  So love it or hate it your adoptive name did bestow rights to you as part of the adoptive parents assuming responsibility.


Now let us look at original family names.  Traditionally, but this is changing you  only assume the family name of one of your natural parents. This  is usually the fathers surname. but wait, it is estimated that up to 4 or more percent of parental identification in relation to the father is actually parental fraud where the natural father is a person other than the person listed on the birth certificate.  And that is a conservative estimate because back in the pre birth control pill days the odds are possibly higher. So no one can be absolutely sure of their paternal heritage. The words of that old song " you father ain't  your father but your father don't  know" can ring true over many generations of a persons heritage.

In relation to when a single mother has given birth the family surname of the child may either be the paternal father or the mothers surname and even that could be confusing as it may fail to identify both parents.  I once was talking with a police officer in a country town and he was telling me the biggest problem was the fact that there was no father figures in many of the children's  lives. He spoke of one male who has fathered up to 5 different children in the town to five different ladies all of whom used their own surname. One would hope that these children when they mature will leave town very quickly lest other problems arise.

We as adoptees were usually given a name, if given a name at all, that identified us with our natural mother's , some say birth mother, surname and back in the period we who were affected by past adoption adoption practises that name , if it was accurate only lasted as a means of identifying us until adoption. So in fact the name for all intensive purposes back then had no real meaning although today it is used to attempt to make contact with natural family, a concept no one back in the twenties to the seventies ever entertained.  Today we adoptee's treasure our original family name  as a means of identity, some even wanting to adopt that name because it is so valued by them. yet others have no interest in that original short lived name.  The very fact we all have a choice in relation to that name shows just how we have advanced compared to nations like the USA. The concept of open adoption is  a flawed attempt to acknowledge that some adoptees value that name.

Personally I value the fact that i have the mixed family surnames Clark, derived from the clerical occupations, on my mother's side and Dwyer, formerly O'Dwyer from my fathers side.  Of course there is other names mixed up in that family history, like the Bonner's from my grand mothers parents.  But equally I value my adoptive name Legro formerly Le Gros even though there is no extended historical sense.  For me I also have the the knowledge to know that the family history many seek based upon name may in fact be false, something we Late Discovery Adoptees are familiar with and the history many seek still may not be theirs. But that should not deter folk from doing what they feel will benefit them.  The DNA path i have doubts about because it may throw up more questions and not answers, but again that is also in the eye of the beholder.

Whilst occasionally fondly looking at the surnames of the families that have influenced my life and ass to what I am, who will always be a changing concept, The name Legro is the name i will always use because it was under that name my personal history developed and my children's and grand children's history has developed. to deny that name today is to deny the future generations that may or may not evolve from me.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

THE PERFECT STORM






Social Attitude: An attitude is an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event (the attitude object). Prominent psychologist Gordon Allport once described attitudes "the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology.".[1] Attitude can be formed from a person's past and present.[2]Attitude is also measurable and changeable as well as influencing the person's emotion and behavior.

Social Norms:  norm is a group-held belief about how members should behave in a given context.[citation needed] Sociologists describe norms as informal understandings that govern society’s behaviors,[1] while psychologists have adopted a more general definition, recognizing smaller group units, like a team or an office, may also endorse norms separate or in addition to cultural or societal expectations.[2] The psychological definition emphasizes social norms' behavioral component, stating norms have two dimensions: how much behavior is exhibited and how much the group approves of that behavior.[2]

Mores: Mores (generally pronounced /ˈmɔrz/, and often /ˈmɔrz/. From Latin mōrēs[ˈmoːreːs], grammatically plural: "behavior" - Singular form: mos). William Graham Sumner (1840 – 1910), an early U.S. sociologist, recognized that some norms are more important to our lives than others. Sumner coined the term mores to refer to norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance. Mores include an aversion for societal taboos, such as incest or pederasty.[1] Consequently, the values and mores of a society predicates legislation prohibiting their taboos.


The above description have been taken from Wikipedia and explains the close similarity between Social attitude , Social norms and Social Mores. Not being a politician or a historian or a sociologist I feel safe in using these descriptions so as to give layman's view of the evolving social attitudes and norms in the history of Australia and how it has affected we the people and in particular adopted people.

Through out our history there have always been social attitudes and norms in society. This country of ours  is not a  static country, it is always developing and evolving. Often though our social attitudes and norms develop and evolve at a slower pace. A example of this after the first world war when anti german attitudes resulted in many good Australian ( British Subjects then)  citizens  of german descent were deported back to Germany a country in great turmoil.  The attitude to our indigenous people was also deeply ingrained by a social attitude and norm that they were not human beings worthy of being British Subjects.  Whilst this situation was changed in 1968 referendum where they were granted full citizenship rights (68 years overdue), the old social attitudes to the indigenous is still prevalent. Every time some one says that someone is not a bad bloke for a aborigine , they are expressing the social attitude of a negative impression of indigenous people in general. it will probably take another two generations for this attitude to completely disappear. it was under this social attitude that governments and administration operated with impunity removing children from their families often in a illegal manner.  Even after the momentous apology, there are still many people in this country who erroneously believe that  the removals was the best thing that ever happened

And so it is easy to see how this social attitude was also carried out on the non indigenous population. Let me be quite clear,  The is no way that the social attitudes and norms of the day can diminish  and explain the alleged crimes/illegalities that were carried out on our mothers. i say alleged because no testimony was given under oath, no cross examination and no court actions. But based on the consistency of the unsworn testimony from all corners of Australia, there was something rotten going on and it has adversely affected so many mothers and adoptees.  The climate for this situation to occur though was deeply bound in the flawed social attitudes  and norms that had developed from Federation and before. These attitudes and norms was mainly imported from great Britain and adapted by a nation that was desperately trying to out British the British .  The country was almost schizophrenic in that it wanted to have a unique Australian attitude but also wanted to be a British to the bootstraps.  And being a country based upon egalitarianism  this meant we had to be the new british middle class that was evolving from World War one. Hence the attitudes  of fallen women, the idea of bad blood being passed on, the absurd idea that sex should only occur within marriage. it was also a period of a patriarchal society. In divorce situations custody of the children usually went to the father in cases of infidelity. I have no doubt the old joke that ' problems started when we gave them the vote" would not have been a joke in the war and post war years.  There were many cases of men telling their wives how to vote at elections.

Therefore it is very easy to see that the churches , organisations like the Country Women's Association, the ladies magazine, the Women's Weekly, which catered to the  "proper housewives and women" along with conservative male politicians and bureaucrats  would have been able to influence the social attitudes and norms of the day thus creating a perfect storm which enabled every crackpot mothers home and maternity to carry on with no checks and balances.  In fact my mother diary tells about how her mother and  a policewoman threatened my mother because she refused to sign adoption consent forms the day after my sister was born in 1952.  We also know that even today in Australia there is no entitlement to a government benefit or support.Unlike other countries that say entitlement, here in Australia the it May be paid.  Back in those day the person who decided if someone should receive assistance had almost unfettered powers. Prior to the birth of my sister, my mother sought housing assistance from State Dept of Welfare. She was refused. After my sister's birth she lived in various places and with her sister but was unable to support herself and my sister , so one day she dressed her up and delivered my sister to welfare for adoption.  Quite frankly if the social attitudes of the day and the social norms of the day were not part of our society and culture none of the excesses would have occurred. After World War two the allies made the German citizenry so through film clips of the death camps so that the German people would know what their government and military did in their name. Whilst not directly responsible, their social attitude and views in relation to the Jewish and Romany people  was one of the factors the death camps were constructed, and their attitude to the removal of old friends and neighbours means they knew deep down what was happening but chose to ignore it. To it's credit the German nation has accepted their responsibility.
The apologies that have been heard around the country for all those affected by government and institutional authorities is a recognition that the Australian  people must bear their share of the burden of responsibility.  But nothing would have happened if not for the perfect storm of social attitudes and norms which joined with  callous people wanting to distribute babies like cattle away from those who society had decided were not worthy


Sadly in 2013 we find that social attitudes and social norms are again at play within the forced adoption community. Just as with society in general there are different social attitudes and norms within groups or organisation.  For the last decade plus the forced adoption community have been developing their own social norms which  ensure anyone who dares speaks against such norms are cast out to be belittled abused and yes even attempts to discredit. I have always been a target because i try to think outside the square. An example was on the weekend when a person, Kerri,  stated as gospel that a majority of adoptees were abused. in fact she bragged how she told Professor Mushin that 8 out of ten had been abused. This  was  with no statistical evidence to prove  it , only her experiences dealing with abused  adoptees.  When i pointed out that up to 56 percent of adoptees indicated that they rated their relationship with their adoptive parents as good or better , i was then accused of  abusing the abused . An fine example of what happens when you breach the social norms of the forced adoption adoption community. In fact one of the comments fro a lady named  Delma to  my observations was "So what you are saying Murray is that adoptees had better lives than many others children who were not adopted. I guess for those who didn't find out until they were in their forties  etc then cold say that because they didn't know they were adopted so could not blame that".  Kerri also implied i was not a adoptee with this statement " it is not  to be compared at all and if someone does they have no idea of what it is to be a adoptee, especially and abused adoptee" 

These are just recent examples of how the group society norms  are used to silence the facts which are so important. IN fact when i responded Kerri accused me of getting personal. Well accusing a adoptee of not being an adoptee is very personal and is a standard tactic to destroy someone who does not accept the groups norms blindly.  It is sad to say that not long after this other people with no morals or norms decided to use these comments to falsify a fake FB page in relation to my adoptee status.

There are many more examples of what happens when you don't accept the groups societal norms. This was in relation to information veto's in SA. They are despicable laws and should be corrected to contact veto's . But when i challenged a adoptee for not wanting to include the veto'd mothers in his campaign he basically said that adoptees had more rights than mothers.  This is in direct contravention to the United Nations Declaration of Human rights article 12.  I was accused of baiting him by the general adoptee community because they believed adoptees had more rights than mothers. I had fought for the rights of adoptees so that we could have equal place with the mothers not to have greater rights. However because of my defence with vigour of this principal i have been ostracised , a typical action when on breaks the social norms of the group.

Social Norms and attitudes have been at play in adoptees lives before they were born.They have shaped how we were looked upon and stigmatised What is so sad in 2013 is the fact that we who had paid the price of being outside of the social norm, now play the same game which indicates we have learnt nothing

Saturday, 9 November 2013

A quick look at statistics and how they relate to the History of adoption in Australia

A lot of criticism has been floating my way in relation to the statistics compiled by the AIFS into the past adoption era. Some have said they refuse to accept them based on anecdotal evidence , other just plain do not like the facts being presented. Other say there are obvious flaws in the study because it was opt in study done on the internet (mainly)

any empirical study has some flaws because they are voluntary studies. but when they are all you have of valued , it is the only study that you can rely on. Previous studies have mainly concentrated upon mothers with a few adoptees. a list of those studies and number of  are as follows:


Berry & Cowman                1998                                52 respondents
Condon                                1986                                20 respondents (mothers only)_
De Simone                           1996                              264 respondents(mothers only)
Field                                    1992                              238 respondents(mothers only)
Gair                                     2008                                20 respondents
Goodwatch                          2001                                 8 respondents(mothers only)
Grafen & lawson                 1996                        No numbers   but was for mothers only
Logan                                  1996                              101 respondents(mothers only)
McPhee & Webster             1993                              249 respondents
Swain.P                               1992                              340 respondents (mothers only)
Winkler & Van Keppell      1984                              213 respondents (mothers only)


Of the above empirical studies only 3 had adoptees represented. Also there has only been 2 this century. Thats is why the AIFS study is so important.

The AIFS study had 1528 respondents. the breakdown was 505 mothers , 12 fathers, 823 adoptees, 94 adoptive parents and 94 other family members. How they found out about the study is also interesting and shows that many foud out about the study other than Adoption support services. total breakdown is

Adoption support services                       345
friend/family                                            277
newspaper                                                308
AIFS website                                           202
radio                                                        243
websites including social networks        137

other TV/health professional                 178

so it can be seen that it was comprehensively put out to the public and the responses came from all walks of life


I will now deal exclusively with adoptees and their responses. it found that 74 percent of adoptees had a diploma/ trade qualification or higher, the last census had put the nations figure at 56 percent

This then flows into the degree of of life satisfaction that adoptees currently have. Those with a high life satisfaction was found to be 50 percent. when compared with the wave 8 of the HILDA longitudinal study this was lower than that found by that study which showed 61 percent of adopted people had a high life satisfaction. The HILDA study showed the overall high life satisfaction rating for the country was 67 percent. This tells us that many adoptees whilst satisfied  do have some unresolved issues.

The next figure which has proved to be contentious to those who wish to push one particular line. 56 percent of the adoptee respondents described their relationship with their adoptive parents when growing up as good to very good. This indicated that the majority of adoptive parents were supportive in their formative years. The high post high school education qualifications of adoptees may indicate this also. that is not to say abuses did not occur. But as with society in general there will always be abusive parents. but those abuses on adoptees are a direct result of intervention at birth with their removal.


The study shows that the adoptees adoptive parents were in the forefront of of delivering very helpful and somewhat helpful support  474 received such support.  Whilst adoptees  did seek support elsewhere the study shows by far the adoptive family provided the key support.

There are many other statistics there which cover the needed for support for all adoptees on a needs basis as anecdotally  we know that as one moves through their life cycles there will always come a times when extra support is needed,and those who have been abused need access to a great deal of treatment , not including hypnotherapy, re birthing and all the other unproven techniques that can damage or worse place false memories into people which has been a major problem over decades where innocent parents of all persuasions have been falsely charged with abuse crimes.

The need for adoptee support is quite apparent but to make anecdotal statement that paint us as abused people without the empirical  evidence to back it up is doing the reputation of many adoptive parents a great disservice.  it is painting a picture that all adoptive parents were evil. Sure i can understand the mothers making such claims but for adoptees to stereotype when we have been already stereotyped just just plain wrong and mischievous. and to call the statistics wrong based upon nothing but their own gut feeling is also doing the vast majority of adoptees a great disservice. and when you consider 559 of the 804 are working (79) percent the disservice is even greater. Sadly it does not breakdown the non working which would include house parents, retired and those who are unable to work because of their trauma etc. The life satisfaction of the employed is also high with 57.8 %of full-time employed and 52.9%part time  giving life satisfaction on employment as 8 to 10 the higher scale.

Adoptees can take a black armband and say woe is me. but compared to our mothers we have broadly had a reasonable life. issue are there some are permanently damaged, but to try to drag fellow adoptees down because it is believed that a/parents are sub human is wrong plain wrong and needs to be challenged at every chance, which this person will.  we have all been affected by adoption is so many ways it is impossible to stereotype. my parents accidentally abused me by failing to tell me the truth. but it was done with no malice and no hatred in their hearts. when you realise that so many adoptive parents also were thrown in the deep end without a manual overall you may have some sympathy for them handling children with unremembered trauma.  How the system gave us to them by abusing our mothers is so wrong and will always be a blight on society. How the public chose to  ignore what was going on and stigmatise mothers and adoptees is unforgivable.

but just as the mothers have been a truthful as they can ,given the time lapses since the abuse, we also owe it to them to tell the full story about is. And the last thing they need to hear is tales of continual abuse when in fact that did not occur in the majority of cases.


Murray Legro  Born Kerry Clark

Sunday, 20 October 2013

CONSENT



                  CONSENT

A official letter came in the mail
Showed my real name as a babe
Another paper came as well
Saying that other people could have me as well
The signature I did take note
It was my mothers consent to give me the boot

Now I have signed so many things
My wife signed to have her breast taken away
So why should think anything else
Other than I was not wanted for better or worse

Now as the years have swiftly flown
I know consents are not as shown
Some were drugged and given a paper
To legalise taking from a mother

Others signed in fear you know
Of parents who threatened to disown
The stories told are quite horrific
Of mother’s suffering most significant

But some did sign in relief you know
For that little problem to just go
But even them now do suffer
Because decisions made that last forever

The heart does know my mother was made
To sign me away so with her I could not go

But when the brain kicks in a voice can appear
Asks is this the truth for it sounds weird
Did she dump me like a hot potato?
Or was she forced, as the heart knows



Murray Legro  (Kerry Clark)