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Triumph over forced adoption practice

  • 30 March 2015

My career focus from a very early age was to become a writer. The first blow to this ambition came when I was taken out of school when I was just fourteen years old, one week before I’d sit the intermediate certificate.

Being a junior with no skills I took the first job that came along which was stacking shelves in Woolworths at Ermington in Sydney. When I was fifteen and working in a factory at Ryde I was approached by the management with regard to a trainee laboratory assistant position.

The thought of getting off the production line and looking all important walking around the factory in a white coat with a clipboard, had a lot of appeal.

I knew that it would only be a year before the gig would be up and I’d have to produce the Intermediate Certificate to enrol at Granville Tech. But I thought what the heck. The way my life went anything could happen in a year. Six months later I found that I was pregnant.

I was sent to St Margaret’s Home for Unwed Girls, with the expectation of all around me that I would surrender my son for adoption. For four months I worked in the hospital laundries and kitchen, without pay or even adequate food, withstanding pressure that was tantamount to torture from the hospital administrator as she tried to wear me down and obtain my consent for adoption.

On Boxing Day 1965, two weeks before my sixteenth birthday, when I still hadn’t buckled, I was tossed onto the street with very little money and no idea where I was, or where I was going. Help finally came and I was able to keep my son.

Two years later, I was back where I started. Homeless, penniless, abandoned by my family and I’d lost the son I fought so hard to prevent being taken for adoption.

In order to survive I had to create a new identity. Having had my education cut short, I had to make up ground if I was going to make something of myself, and be someone my son would be proud of when we were eventually reunited. Having to get up and face every day, without my son, was a pain that can only be understood by someone who has lost a child. Every step I took over the next fourteen years was calculated to bring me one step closer to him.