Thursday, 27 December 2012

Comments on the utterances of Miranda Devine

The link above is the link to a article by Miranda Devine which was published in the Murdoch press two days before Christmas of this year.  Ms Devine like anyone else in our great country is entitled to her views like anyone else. The sad thing is the media is loathe to allow responses to persons who claim to speak with authority although not fully conversant with the facts.  Alan Jones is one who comes to mind and his recent forced apologies for past transgressions. looking at Ms Devine's bio on Q & A  one can form the impression she has never had or have been put in the position so many of our mothers were during those dark ages  from the 1920's until the late 1980's so this blog is an attempt to enlighten her and many other persons who believe  that " our mothers made a heroic gift " to our adoptive parents. It may be a good deed for the country to make heroes out of our troops who have served valiantly in defence of our way of life and basic freedoms we now take for granted. but to attempt to portray our mothers as some sort of quiet hero's is hypocritical and false.

Her first statement that " adoption is not one of them" that the government should apologise for is the first major dispute i have with her.
 The state governments of the day have had adoption laws in place since before the 1920's with Victoria enacting their laws in 1929.  Whilst the federal government was not directly involved in the matter of adoption,much like they were not directly involved with the circumstances surrounding Stolen generations apart from the territories they as the representatives the people of our nation have a moral duty to ensure the historical record is corrected and that acknowledgement is made that past policies of this nation had a detrimental impact upon it's citizens.  By continuing to marginalise your own citizens you allow a carbuncle to fester which if not treated will burst and infect the country.  So all the apology will do is acknowledge that mothers , fathers and adoptee's where in  so many instances negatively affected by the policies that this nation.

Her next statement involves saying that one of Julia Gillards first act is " an exercise as cynical as it is pointless" .
Wrong Ms Devine this apology has strong bipartisan support. State governments of all persuasions around the country have acknowledged the fact that so much that was done was wrong and in some instances illegal. So for you to now hang this on the current Prime Minister shows that you just cannot move away from the political slant and look at it from a bipartisan humanitarian slant.

" This another class of victims is created in Australia"
 This is the most insulting statement i have ever seen coming from a reporter/ journalist.  No matter the circumstances surrounding the adoption the fact is the victims were created at the time of the events.  The scars  for the mothers occurred when their new born infant was cruelly removed and in some instances the procedures used during the removal process was tantamount to a punishment.  For example from  The Melbourne Argus dated 18 July 1950 in an article on single mothers showed the following comment from a Salvation Army official
The mother should be al   lowed to have her child with   her for at least eight weeks.   She must be taught her res   ponsibtlity for the great dis    
dvantage under which her   child was brought into the    
world. The pain of parting with   her child after eight weeks or   more may help to keep the
unmarried mother straight in her future life." 

My mother was kept with me at the home i was born in to feed me and as a form of punishment.

Her comment " Some now feel their children were stolen"  I do agree that time can increase the pain that must be felt for any traumatic event.  But the core cause of the pain still remains. And that is in the vast majority of cases the mother had no choice in the what was happening and in some cases the laws of the land were broken and abused and in other cases the laws were amended to take away the mothers legal rights.  For example The Parliamentary summary from the Hobart mercury dated 18 October 1945 had this little bit of information hidden away:

The Adoption of Children Bill passed. The Treasurer (Mr Dwyer Gray) explained that the bill pro- vided that a police magistrate could make an order of adoption without the consent of the parents or legalguardian where it was considered to be in the interests of the child.

So in many cases stolen they were.

At this point I would also like to state that the senate reference committee into forced past adoption practises whilst chaired by Senator Rachel Siewert was a bipartisan committee with senator Moore and senator Boyce the two other senior persons on that committee and when the report was handed down , the entire senate rose to their feet and applauded us, the people who opened up our lives to the senators so they could see the long term effects adoption has had upon so many for so long. So whilst Ms Devine may be correct to say not every removal was horrific , the fact remains that so many from all around this great nation reported similar happenings in their adoption horror to allow the senators to conclude that much of the activity was systemic and did effect so many. And the pain is extended way beyond those of us directly affected. i met a elderly person who wants forgiveness in her role as a person obtaining the consents in those dark days. So the emotional toll even upon the staff who were ordered to carry out such activities has also occurred

Her Comment " Who are we to judge that we are superior to our forebears"

Again Ms Devine has shown an inability to even look back with objectivity.  She as a journalist should know that until recently incidences of child abuse and neglect did not attract the attention of her forebears. Why.  Because the media and the authorities did not believe what was happening.  The fact that the cover ups of child abuse inside institutions occurred was because the police and others would not act is evidence that our forebears were often like ostriches when it came to institutionalised abuse or for that matter the behind the scenes treatments of people in the name of social mores.  Our forebears did not and would not believe the acts that occurred inside the hospitals where people like i was born.  Juts like today many Japanese citizens do not believe the atrocities that were committed in their nations name during World war 2.  it is not about superiority it is about educating the population as to what occurred in their name and acknowledging that the effects on our own citizens were in many instances catastrophic.

When referring to the social stigma against single mothers and illegitimate children she states " Like all social stigma's it originated for a reason"

The social stigma she refers to came about relatively late in the history of this country.  Even up until the late 1900"s single mothers were often placed in homes so they could learn how to raise their children themselves and also to learn a skill.  Common law relationships were much more prevalent than most people thought especially amongst the lower income demographics.  As explained by the History of adoption project, adoption was often done as a economic choice not a social stigma choice. it was only when adoption was made legal in the states that the push to use unwed pregnant ladies  to supply a growing demand for babies that a artificial social stigma was attached with the religious orders who in the main provided the maternity homes for the ladies to have their babies and also to provide a source for us, the human commodity that was in demand. In the senate hearings in Hobart in december 2011, the Salvation army major representing them there went on records saying:

Elim was not an adoption agency. The social welfare department and Catholic Family Welfare were the only two adoption agencies in the state by the end of 1973. Elim's part in the adoption process is described in a farewell brief, which is a transition document between matrons when they change over. Val Archer indicates that:

Yet in a article in the Launceston Examiner dated 22 July 1953, the retiring matron in charge of the Rocklyn house Salvation army home Major Martha Edward's was quotesd as saying:

Miss Edwards has de- livered well over a thou- sand babies since she be- came a Salvation Army officer, and although her health will not allow her to do full-time work again she wants to keep in contact even in a small way with the work that has for so many years been not her job, but her whole life.


I like to feel sure the babies are going into a happy home. Some-times prospective parents come along to the home in their best clothes and showing their best man-  
ners, which are not al- ways a true indication," she said.
"Usually I keep them talking for ages so I can find out what they'rereally like," she said with a twinkle in her eye.

Thus showing they were involved in the adoption process.  It is also interesting to note that the justice of the peace witnessing the " signature " of these vulnerable girls was also a member of the Salvation Army and in fact the a past matron in charge,

Couple this with the following article in the Melbourne Argus dated 26 June 1950 which in part stated:

couples '
"COUPLES seem to be
clamouring for chil <? dren," one officer told me.
"The shortage has been growing for about 10 years, but has never been greater than now.
"You'd be amazed at the big heartedness of these childless couples.
"Often they come to us with preconceived ideas of what they want, .then set eyes on . some little boy or girl, who cap-
tivates them on the spot. The preconceived notions are for- gotten.
"What type of people are they?"
"Couples who are prepared to provide homes' for children areobviously among our very best

And we can now see that there was a growing shortage of babies for adoption  it is obvious that from the time i was born the social stigma was being used to ensure there was a supply of healthy babies to satisfy a demand that has been around for centuries. So yes Ms Devine there was a logical reason. To satisfy the demand for babies in the Market place. And as overseas adoptions are starting to dry up with the expose of corrupt practices, which had occurred in this country,  in those far off places, the switch in providing the supply is now with overseas surrogacy where the "gestational carrier " is a low paid  ill treated child bearing age lady.
"It was to ensure children were brought up up in an optimal environment of a nuclear family to become happy well adjusted productive members of the community.

I dispute this statement on many levels . Whilst i agree that currents statistics show that a nuclear family may provide a optimal environment, so does a single parent family. There may be a slight reduction involving a stepfather but with the number of war widows in the country at the time there seems to have been no detriment to those children.  Also major evidence via media reports show that it was to provide children for couples as the demand has shown. It seems that greater importance was placed on  delivery supply to meet the demand and as every time the demand increased so did the pressure on providing a supply which peaked in 1970/71 with 9768 adoptions.  Now as to why many couples wanted to adopt far be it for me to comments upon their reasons which may have been a inability to have children, doing the charitable things, doing whats right or from a more sinister point, it may be as described in the Hobart Mercury of 28 Feb 1946:

Adoption Of Child
]yj[R SMITH, in the »louse of
Assembly hist night, gave notice that he would ask the Premier (Mi- Cosgrove) whether he would make representations to the Prime Minister <Mr Chifley for the allocation of child migrants to Tasmania foradoption by primary producers."

and that is to have a labour force for no cost.  Anecdotally I have found so many persons adopted from Salvation Army Homes in Tasmania finished up in rural communities. So to generalise  as Ms Devine has is to glass over the real situation.

I do agree that many unmarried pregnant ladies were sent off by their families to maternity homes to have their children but i describe that as parents thinking more about themselves than their own daughters or their future grandchildren. And many nowadays do acknowledge that the pressure they brought to bear on their vulnerable daughters caused a schism in the family structure.  In addition they unknowingly helped to contribute to the many issues adoptees now face at a psychological and emotional level. Studies coming from the 9/11 disaster has shown that babies in the womb at the time have has significantly more problems than those who had already been born.  This is due to the extreme stress the mothers were under following the death of their loved husband and partner. Xo it is logical to understand that our mothers living in a environment of continual emotional stress brought about by their parents wold pass that stress to their unborn child.

Yes it is fascinating to watch those old documentaries and read the Woman's weekly articles and the CWA meeting of the time. But it also highlights how the general population was kept in the dark about what actually happened.  The technical thirty day rule Ms Devine quoted was in fact part of the law, but as the senate found out in so many cases this law was not advised to the young mothers and many were very ignorant that they had a cooling off period.  Today failure in the commercial world to notify a person of the cooling off period is grounds to void a contract.  I myself have had verbal advise from some adopting parents that they found out the natural mother of their adopted child  had not been informed of her rights in relation to the thirty day rule.  Furthermore the public was not informed as to what was occuring.  For example the Launceston Examiner dated 3 Sep 1947 advised:
"Mr. Ward said that when an ap. plication to adopt a child was made a date was fixed for the hearing of the application before himself or a Police Magistrate. In the inter val the Registrar-General's Department made confidential en quiries into the suitability of theapplicant. Parental Age Limit In all matters of adoption, the child's welfare was the paramount consideration. The age limit for people wishing to adopt children from birth had been fixed at 45 years for women and 50 years for men. • This was adjusted according to the child's age, The limitation was necessary so that a child could be assured of adequate parental control until he or she reacher a responsible age. "

In fact as i have discovered, the application to adopt me and the approval to adopt was dated the same day 14 April 1950 and my father, who was a good man but more like a grandfather, was born in 1897 making him 53 well over the upper age limit.  So what they said in the media and what was actually occurring was two different things.

Ms Devine then quotes heartrending stories of sacrifice . no doubt they are correct but in most cases they were the complete opposite stories or events.  Much like people going to their execution, some are very heroic or stoic but the vast majority have to be manhandled or given sedatives. And we know that in many cases the mothers were in fact given sedatives in order to obtain consent.  This information is based on the many accounts given to the senate enquiry and the consistency between states. If it was a sacrifice it was a unwilling sacrifice.
One of the most disturbing statements  in the article is this  " A gift of love by the mother, for her baby and for the strangers who would adopt"  BABIES ARE NOT GIFTS, they are responsibilities. puppy dogs are gifts, push bike are gifts, a diamond ring is a gift.  A baby is not a gift  and that statements insults every adoptee in this country who had no say in their future.  We do not know if our mothers would have been good mothers,  they were never given a chance because of those pressure placed upon them and the isolation they felt when they were at their most vulnerable. in fact under today's laws and yes even back in those days, it would be hard to see how the legal documents signed by these mothers without proper representation were legal. They were in most cases signed under duress ad in some cases were not signed by them at all.

And to use the words of Michele King who" Thanked his biological mother for her great gift" also shows the one sided view of Ms Devine as she has failed to determine if i  fact that child had been freely given. it is all very good to put up emotive statements to support one views but it is necessary to look at that statement and decide is that what actually happened as apposed to what Michele thought might have happened.
We were not gifts to be devalued.  And in respect to  adoptive family we were not stolen by them as in the vast majority of cases regardless of why they wanted to adopt us, it was done legally as far as they were aware.  But in so many cases it has been confirmed that based upon the systematic consistency of testimony at the senate enquiry, there were illegalities that occurred , some technical some far worse and whilst it is very doubtful given our fine tradition of innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt , there will ever be any criminal prosecutions, it does not mean they did not occur, they did as admitted by the Tasmanian government in their apology document.

And Ms Devine, I do not consider myself to be a victim and never will. I am a person who has had to come to terms with the fact that his natural life path was altered because his grandparents did not want him and the state needed babies to give to those who wanted them .  I was not born in joyful circumstances but in a time of much distress.  I have been told it took two people to drag me from my mothers arms when i was adopted at 6 weeks of age thus showing this was no heroic surrender of me but a painful agonising event which stayed with my mother and subconsciously me for all of her life and is still inside of me.

So for some one to diminish the depth of pain my mother and hundreds of thousands of other mothers as well as the hundreds of thousands of adoptee's like me the article has  created a  traumatic event and it shows all of us marginalised because of articles like yours that there are many out there who will,never understand and never care for their fellow human beings. but if you are attempting to diminish the bi partisan federal apology that is coming on 21 march 2013 you will,fail because i have faith in the majority of my fellow Australians to understand that this validation is also an acknowledgement that our country is so magnificent that it can freely acknowledge its past , both the good and the bad

murray legro


  1. Well said Murray. This idiocy of what this woman writes is pretty incomprehensible. She would do well here writing for Fox news
    Thank you for speaking out.

  2. trying to understand what natural mothers went through is too much to ask anyone. thank you Murray for your understanding. Adoption is not and never will be a gift.

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