Sunday, 22 July 2012

The struggle for adoptee recognition in Australia

"Adoption has Lost me my Father"   so was one of the posts my daughter has made about myself and this struggle to receive recognition of adoptees in their own right in Australia.  It has been a particularly nasty struggle because adoptees are being assaulted by many mothers who still believe we are children and should not be explaining our own feelings because they know what we should feel like.   And on the other side we have some politicians and the media failing to realise that for every mother out there who lost a child and whose pains has been multiplied by the mind over many years to a point where they despair as to what happened, there is an adult who as a child was taken and also paid a huge price.  It seems easier for the media to focus on a short painful birth episode than to look at the long term often hidden effects that nearly 300,000 people in this country suffer and this number will increase substantially into the future with the resultant health care costs escalating at a major proportion. but no Adoptees do not make good copy for a five second statement so we are placed in the corner.

Since October 2010, when the joy of finally having a inquiry to look at all aspects of adoption was raised under the badly titled Forced adoption, adoptees have been on the back foot. Firstly one of the most well known independent support groups with an international base, continually attempted to demolish the spirit of adoptees who showed a independent thought. Woe betide anyone who went onto the origins sponsored Adoption enquiry Facebook page and say "birth mother" . like a pack of ravenous wolves they were devoured and spat out and if they even showed an ounce of resistance they were brutalised. this author has hard copy evidence of such behaviour and we all know that cyberspace ensures all copies of deleted posts are held by FB.  The next attempt to muzzle adoptees was to attempt to isolate them by calling people telling them not to stay friends.  When this failed they attempted to destroy their own personal history by falsely claiming they had been brainwashed, had the Stockholm Syndrome and that they were stolen. all of these things were false as any adoptee will tell you. adoptee's were only required of they were doing what they were told.  this caused countless heartache for so many colleagues and drove them to despair.

Basically the adoptees own truth was not allowed unless it complied with what the mothers wanted. If you challenged the eugenics theory , which by the way the senate Committee inquiry dismissed, you were an enemy. if you suggested that a mothers parents in most cases assisted in this forced adoption, you were howled down and some nameless hospital staff member was demonised as the devil incarnate, you were jumped upon like a wounded deer. Even if you tried to suggest that even those who willingly signed had been coerced into believing they were making the correct choice, you were accused of influencing the inquiry and needed to be reported on. if you found some piece of evidence4 was factually incorrect, like the claim they were not incorporated in the State of victoria when in fact they were, they lodged a false complain with the inquiry in a attempt to silence a person. if they checked the public record of anyone involved they falsely claimed stalking and libel, both of which would have been defensible in court under the current laws .this was an attempt to hinder free speech. if you rued to set up a local support service and it was reported in the local press it was demeaned by people from outside the area casting dispersions. What was interesting was that one person who demanded what qualifications were held, then proceeded to try to act as a facilitator at a mothers sponsored group.  I to this do not know whether this was an attempt to muzzle one person or to stop adoptees from having any media coverage.

One of the saddest things coming from all this is the attempt by people of the Apology alliance to muzzle the convener for supporting the rights of adoptees. There is still a attitude that adoptees cannot know what they feel, only their mothers can. of course we know that to be a myth.  You only have to ask the child who was tossed against a wall by her mother or the baby put in the clothes dryer by her mother to know that for some mothers, the bonding process will never happen.  but for a person who has never seen her child since birth to claim they know best is just like me advising a mountain climber how to climb mount is a oxymoron and it is time all mothers not just the few , to wake up to this fact. our lives have followed a different path to that which you would have wished. our lives has developed in the knowledge, subliminal or conscious that we were removed and placed elsewhere and that is what affects us and how we have developed, that is something no mother can ever understand even though many do empathise.

Now the media and the politicians and others.  You have in general ignored us. you have seen no decent copy about 40 to fifty even sixty and seventy year old adoptees. AT the handing down of the report when a reporter and cameraman was making arrangement to speak to the lady next to me, they asked are you a father.when i replied no,I am adoptee they just turned around and weren't interested. even the adoptee who gave a great speech was only popular because she had her lovely mother with her. in other words adoptees make good props not the main story.  How many adoptees have called the press and actually got their story up in the paper, two that i know of.  The politicians were initially not too interested in the props at the beginning but slowly the senate committee did come to realise that there were persons who were not mothers saying a huge price for the systems of the past for that i thank them.  And the wonderful South  Australian lower house.They are a pleasure to have heard. Not so a person in the South Australian Upper House.  Despite all the evidence at the inquiry, the knowledge that caused the lower house to show a equal response she persisted in running her own narrow minded line and did not mention the adoptees in their own right. this form of  dismissal of us will be felt by the adoptees of south Australia for many years to come and one can only hope that the rest of the politicians this great country realise just how much they damage they are doing to their loyal Australian citizens.

And the others.  It was very disheartening to hear that the Salvation Army major who gave evidence in Tasmania fail to acknowledge on the day that they actually run the Home i was born in in Launceston. This fact is a part of my heritage and that of my children because as an adoptee i have no real heritage, just the history of other families i don't quite belong to. so this was a slap in the face to this adoptee and underserved because of the ineptitude of the salvation Army.  The other thing noted is that most official support services have for clients more adoptees than others but they failed to talk about the pain and suffering of adoptees at the hearings. this was most unfortunate and makes one wonder whether they had been incorrectly told that adoptees were only a prop for the mothers.

i have many wonderful friends who are mothers and i support their cause for justice.  but this is the truth as i see about the situation for adoptees in this lead up to the apology. many see adoptees as props for their own need and not as the equals they should be .  i know some of my friends will be upset but sadly i cant talk about the few who are so understanding of us in our need to be recognised in our own right. They are such wonderful people.  I know a few say, when the WA apology was given where were the adoptees why weren't they organised then. the answer is simple.  We weren't and some had already discouraged independent grouping for adoptees. but we are now and we must stand for what we n]believe which is a Supplementary acknowledgement of the adoptees in WA and full acknowledgement for adoptees as equals elsewhere in the country.  Only then can adoptees feel genuinely empowered and acknowledged


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  2. Bronwyn, let us remember that no one has bragging rights to an inquiry. adoptees freely acknowledge that mothers were primarily responsible for getting the inquiry. but that does not give them special privileges. They were one party to what happened, we were the other party.
    Adoptees have been at the forefront of adoption reform since the seventies when a lady in Geelong started up a campaign to change Victorian laws in relation to release of records. The laws were amended in 1985 and the other states followed suit
    So to that it is for the mothers is quite incorrect.
    Another bit of information is that one of the mothers groups, origins started accepting adoptee membership many years ago. yet one of their aims is this;
    Also to provide confidential support and information through:
    a telephone service available to people separated by adoption and regular support meetings where mothers have the freedom to speak and be heard in a safe place.

    As you can see no mention of adoption. when adoptees starting questioning their motives and manner in which adoptees were treated and started the Australian Adoptee network, they set up an adoptee page on their website. but it is controlled by the convenor of origins, a mother. so where do you see the freedoms and equalities demanded by adoptees.
    I also challenge the concept of living a lie. Adoptees have their start based upon a lie (and for people like me a LDA, a long running lie) but our lives have been our own to do with what we will and that is a fact. that is no lie. my career in the RAAF is not a lie. Other like Seal is not a iie. bill clinton was not a lie. only our start was based on a lie and whilst that lie and the trauma around it has stayed with us and affected how we have lived our live, we have lived our lives and not really looking to blame anyone for our ills but rather asking for validation of our past. Now why would some mothers deny us that and crucify us for asking to be a Equal. at the moment many on,y want us for a prop to be put back in the cupboard when they have finished. NO HUMAN BEING DESERVES THAT

  3. One other point Bronwyn. The stolen generations were apologised to equally, parents and the ones stolen who are now adults . Isn't is strange that for what can be considered the non indigenous population some like you think it should be separate. Now that is real discrimination of a minority called adoptees

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  5. Thanks for clarifying Bronwyn. I too am on record at my concern about current adoption practices. but because the genie is out of the bottle I tend to look at how we set up standards so that those adopted, IVF, surrogacy and overseas adoption will have the support services in place to be helped with the undoubted personal trauma that will eventually affect most at some point in their lives. The struggle must start with people my age and first of all getting pubic recognition of the impact upon adoptees as adults. This is the most difficult part because the media tends to forget our major part in the adoption process. it is almost as if they are too scared to touch us for fear of getting their advertising bases offside. together with considered activism we will eventually get the message out there as the people who have a lifetime living as adoptees etc.. Thank you for your comments they are appreciated

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  7. Mothers who adopted out were relying on the Authorities to ensure they screened and selected good new parents for their child. Are you saying you have not had a happy life? Have there been problems? Has there been a study done checking on the lives of adoptees? Were they more prone to particularly let's say sexual abuse? There appears to be great anger here from the original adoptee author. I have experienced similiar what I consider anger from my adopted child who has sallied around very strangely through a so called friend, but will have no direct contact of any kind. This is a totally tragic happening for me; and I do somewhat understand what's happening with her, but being SILENT helps neither of us. It is a slap in the face as though she is saying she hates her life, whereby, I gave her life and at least she could be gracious to acknowledge that and say hello, since that opportunity never happened for us.

  8. Thanks for your comments Trace. but our real thanks go to bronwyn for contributing so intelligently to the debate.
    In relation to the last post, there is no real anger at anyone except those who have tried to silence adoptees as to their own feelings. this was done for purely political motives. Example of such matters is to say we have no experience in these matters. but that fails to recognise adoptees have had a full lifetime of experience both good and bad.

  9. I am an adoptee, 55 years ago, and always having to be careful to hide the fact that my whole family was adopted. It is like the word, Adopted, is a very difficult and dirty word for others to swallow. Goes right back to my first day in Kukerin primary school and more so today I am finding it that people either talk behind you back or simply ignore you, especially my parents families, cousins, Aunties and Uncles...etc. Although I had a wonderful life and living with 2 Anzacs and on the family farm, my Adoptive parents were ever so generous, giving us a very stable upbringing, there is still the Shame of being Adopted. I am totally Ashamed of being Adopted. Thanks to Muzz for this online chat service, for I can see this as being a very useful tool for many, voice their own experiences as an adoptee. I only found out in recent times that I was actually given the name as, Carol Anne Brandis, which has left me quite confused. Yes I found my birth mother and also my late birth father's family and I am delighted to meet them,but still there is that reservation. A feeling of out of place, or simply a misfit in the closest of families. I have held marvelous jobs, in mining, agriculture, corporate, play the piano, and other musical instruments, I own my property and everything on it, but still I am Adopted. I should be feeling so proud of myself and my achievements, but how can I? Thanks for reading this and I hope others can feel good too, having written down their feelings and experiences.... Pep/Carol