I've written before about Australia’s past policy on forced adoption, and how co-writing my fourth novel, The Greenfield Legacy, opened a proverbial Pandora’s Box on my own family’s forced adoption story.
In a brief recap:
Forced Adoption was Australia’s national policy of forcibly removing babies from unwed mothers from the 1940’s until as late as the 1980’s. My mother was one of these newborns. Later in her life, my mother reconnected with her birth mother, who had been widowed twice, but had no other children apart from my mother. Her family shared the devastating heartbreak she had suffered at having to give my mother up. She was never the same. (Please see my column in Book Fun Magazine, May 2015 issue for the full story—Australia’s Heartbreak).
I would also like to acknowledge Australia’s Stolen Generation, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were removed from their families and placed in homes and missions from approximately 1909 to 1969. These children were not just denied their genetic history, but also their cultural heritage. An official apology was issued to the victims of this practice on the 27th January 2008.
My mother suffered from rejection, a deep-seated consequence of having been given up, and not knowing where she had come from. This battle with rejection is something we shared. Although it was never her will to pass this battle on to me, I believe that the stronghold of spiritual legacy can be every bit as powerful as genetics. (Please see Book Fun Magazine, June 2015 issue for the full story— Adoption, Rejection, and Healing.)
I want to wrap up my family’s adoption story by talking about the necessity to learn from the mistakes of the past. As horribly misguided as the Forced Adoption policy was, the authorities, churches, and general society of the time truly believed that it was the best way to deal with the problem, and embraced it as a loving solution. Babies of unwed mothers entered life with great challenges, as their fatherless status cast a stigma that generated many forms of hardship.
In order to save the children from this fate, society and the government devised a strategy that sought to create the perfect, alternative environment for them to grow and thrive. But, as we now know, the side effect of this misguided thinking and ill-thought out ‘loving’ way was that lives were destroyed, and disconnection bred a legacy of destructive inner pain within both the children and birth parents.
I think about those children, not knowing who their birth parents were, and not having a genetic link to boast about. They were unable to claim things like:
‘I have my father’s eyes.’
‘I have my mother’s nature.’
‘A bad temper runs in my family.’
‘My father was shy, and I am too.’
‘My mother and I share the same smile.’
And other connections we, who know our fathers and mothers, can make with assurance.
It makes me sad to think that a generation were told by the majority, ‘It’s okay with us if you never know these things.’
My righteous anger is stirred when I think of how my mother was denied the knowledge of her heritage. In my childhood, the link to my genetic history, both the good and the bad aspects, contributed to my sense of belonging and understanding of self. It still does, even in my adult years.
I do understand and appreciate that a lot of people do not have these links, or access to information about them. I know that this occurs for many different and tragic reasons, but as it was deemed to be unjust for society to force this state of parental disconnection upon children in the days of Forced Adoption, so it is unjust today.
I don’t want other children to go through what my mother went through. I don’t want society to say; ‘It’s alright with us that you have no knowledge of your parentage. In fact we endorse it, because we have embraced an updated perception of love.’
My heart breaks when I think of having to look a child in the face and eventually say; ‘We thought we were doing the right and loving thing, but we didn’t think it through. Sorry.’
On 21 March 2013, the Australian government issued a national apology to people affected by forced adoption or removal policies and practices. Finally, we declared that our society did not have the right to deny a child the knowledge of their heritage, knowledge of their mother and father, and their genetic and cultural heritage.
Yet, as we live in the age of designed family structures of all kind—two-parent, single-parent, step-families, blended families, surrogate mothers, IVF babies, and other non-traditional family structures—my hope is that we cast an eye back to the mistakes of our history. We need to be mindful of our past errors if we are to avoid a repeat of our applications of misguided love. Let us not have another generation that our society—indeed, our world—must apologise to.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (NIV)
“See that you don not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in Heaven. (NIV)
(First seen in Book Fun Magazine July 2015)
Rose was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her Resolution series.
Two of the three Resolution novels have won Australian CALEB awards. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel highlighting the pain of Australia’s past policy of forced adoption, as well as standalone novel, Ehvah After. Her most recent release is the novella, A Christmas Resolution.
Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and her desire to produce stories that point readers to Jesus. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.
Visit Rose at: https://rosedee.com/