Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Enigma That was My Adopting Mother

No adoptee story is complete without some reference to their adopting parents as they were the ones that shaped your future,  Such is the case with Ida Millicent May Legro (nee Yates)
Our household was run by our mother.  She was a stern lady with a strong will.  Whilst i cannot remember too much touchy touchy affection it was there affection.  She also knew how to wield the stick , the electric jug cord and the rubber knife.

However, I know very little about the mother who raised me.  I know  about two weeks before her passing when i saw her for the last time she said to me that she always loved my spirit and always knew i would stick up for myself.  She had only known that i knew of my adoption for twelve months.  But her life was an enigma of which i knew ands still know very little.

I know my a/mother was born in 1912 at a small farm about 3 miles out of the old gold mining town of Mangana.  back then the population of the town was about 500, today only 5 or 6 people live there.  i vaguely remember travelling to the old farmhouse just off the road to Rossarden. and digging bullets out of the posts and walls of the place.  Before my a/mothers birth there had been battles with bush rangers frequently.  I know she had brothers and sisters.  but until her marriage to my a/father on 20 December 1939 (by coincidence my marriage was 20 December 1969)  she was 27 and he was 42, there is very little information.

This in itself presents a mystery.  My a/mother was quite old to be getting married back in that time.  And she was marrying someone who was quite old.  When linked with the infertility of the couple it becomes strange from an auditors mind set.  I also know that after leaving school my mother went to Launceston to work as a servant girl in one of the upper class suburbs .  She never spoke to me of those times which in retrospect is strange as most of us have something to say about periods in ones life.  my a/father could almost tell how many sheep he moved on any given day in his life.

Then the next i see my mother is back on the farm near Mangana and courting my father who lived at Tullochgorum the other side of the South Esk River. Then the wedding in 1939.

What happened to my a/mother in that period that may have made her sterile. I once asked a relative who was the sterile one and they shot back fast as anything (too fast) your father.  Now back in those days they would not have had the tests to see the fertility levels of males and the speed in which the answer came back did set me back. Couple this with the fact that on my true mothers consent form was written Legro, Dr Birchalls patient.  Dr Birchall was the first female gynaecologist in Tasmania. Why was my mother seeing her.  It does appear that this doctor facilitated my adoption to them.

Was my a/mother subjected to abuse by the house where she was serving:
Did she have to have an abortion to cover up a upper class scandal which rendered her infertile and caused her to be returned to her family home: or
did she have a baby that was taken from her for adoption.

The answers to these questions will remain unknown in antiquity.  but we can be assured that something must have happened that meant she remained in the general area of her birth.  She always said she hated farm life yet lived on a farm for 50 years after marrying my a/father.

Perhaps there were good reasons why my mother adopted my older brother and myself as well as raising her grandnephew as one of the family.  we will never know but one thing is certain:

My a/mother took a family of strangers and made them into a family unit of sorts.  She did this with extreme willpower and doggedness.  She was protective of us a bear was protective of her cubs.  And she died alone because her cubs had developed lives that she would never had envisaged back when the family unit was artificially formed.
So whilst she inadvertently done wrong by us by failing to disclose our origins, my a/mother did the best that she could with the skills she had to make a home for us and for that i love and honour her memory.  She would never have been aware of the primal wound lurking inside us.
I saw my mother cry for the first time when I Left to join the RAAF back in 1968. Every time after that she cried whenever i or my family left. only a mother with deep love In her heart could have acted that way


  1. Yes indeed, a deep love and she obviously did her best for you all in her own way.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Murray. I too have met some really lovely adoptive mother's. I remember the first time I met a young lady at our adoption suppport group in 1985, her a/mother was with her, helping her to try and get information on her bio/mum. I was blown away, as this idea of a a/mum helping to find a bio/mum was very strange to me. I had just started lobbying back then and I had a lot to learn. My a/mother was also silent on her back ground as well, which i feel is a bit abnormal. I never knew where she grew up, went to school, what grade she went to, there was never ever any talk of childhood friends etc..nothing. All i know is her mum lived with us for a short while when i was brought into the family, apparently she loved me very much. I only ever met a/mothers 2 sisters and some cousins a handful of times. I get the impression she had an abusive childhood and her dad was an alcholic who died when before they got me. I can not speak of my a/mother in a good way like you can. But I certainly know many adoptees have lovely memories of a women who did their best to love and provide for the children they recieved. Though not perfect and greiving for their own losses managed to as you say, 'make a loving family from a handful of strangers' It would not have been an easy task back then when a/parents were not provided the skills to understand and cope with the grieving and traumtised child, who often acted out their unresolved issues as teenagers. Yes! it is good to relfect back in a good way on the a/mothers that tried to do their best.

  3. I like the way you give your a/mother her dues Murray. I am sure she loved you, and didn't know problems you would encounter as an adopted child. Nobody did at the time really. They thought this and that was for "the best", but there was no science behind their thinking. I think people thought they could create a family and it all be okay. I am glad you felt loved, and glad you had an a/mother who did her best.