Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Australian Adoptees

As an adoptee, I have my own story and this has been told in The Scent of my Mother’s Kiss, available on Amazon. Initially published as The Little Mongrel – free to a good home, Fixwrite 2007, this revised edition includes a chapter on Rock Lynn House, Launceston, Tasmania, the home in which I was born. 

Operated by the Salvation Army between 1895 and 1960, the function of the home was, to a greater degree, driven by the social change and attitudes that influenced policy and practices, which led to an increase in separation of mothers and their children through adoption.

I took me a long time to write the Rock Lynn House chapter, as I wanted to present an account that was well researched and free of bias. To maintain this impartiality required me to look at the bigger picture, to look beyond the years immediately preceding and following my own birth in 1946, to the conditions of disadvantage for women as sole parents in late 19th century, post transportation Tasmania into the 20th century. 

I had no pre, or recently, conceived ideas or opinions on Rock Lynn, accepting it as the place of my birth and that of my adopted siblings. It was the big place over the back fence of the house across the road from my grandmother’s house, where a salvo officer lived with his family road when I was growing up, a place that carried an air of mystery that I sensed was part of me, of who I was. 

I was also fortunate in not writing from a position of anger or need to blame, having long ago made the decision not to let the past impact on the present or whatever future may be allowed me. This doesn’t mean I’m happy with my adoptee state. I’m not, and never will be. However, I refused to embark on, or attach to, any present-day blame finding or retributive campaigns that feed rage and discontentment and ultimately, disillusionment, when the answers sought are not forthcoming.

With the book now in print, I’m happy with the result, even to the point of changing my somewhat negative opinion of the Salvation Army, seeing in their work a nobler intention that surpasses retrospective criticism.  This book is my truth and one that I'm comfortable with.

In relation to the adoptee community, what I’d like to see, but suspect I never will, is a time when all Australian adoptees are on the same page, when there can be consensus as to recommendations for legislative, policy, and practice reform, coming from the power of a united voice. A time when the emotional and psychological experience of the adoptee can be combined and filtered into a common voice, unfettered by the expression of unfairness and injustice of our individual experiences. To present to politicians, those who influence policy, and media, a clear mandate for change in favour of adoptee rights.,

Failing this, I’d set my sights on a more realistic goal, that of mutual respect between Australian adoptees for values and opinions held by all, understanding these have been formed through the diversity of the adoptee experience. To allow each adoptee to hold their personal truth, free of coercion, intimidation or adopting the role of ‘expert’ in order to over-ride or silence individual opinion.

With DLF and the rich, the famous, and the celebrity bedazzled gearing up for National Adoption Awareness Week 8-14 November, it would be amazing and productive if the adoptee community could set aside individual differences and anger at past practices, to focus instead on their shared beliefs and values and develop strategies to mount a credible campaign against the DLF driven propaganda in November.

DLF calls it Adoption Awareness Week yet, apart from a few well-chosen high profile adoptee supporters, where is the voice of the majority of Australian adoptees?


  1. Thank you for this thoughtful piece. I agree that it would be good if we could all find a way to work together to have our voices heard. Unfortunately it is the nature of trauma that stops some people from looking for the best way to live their lives with what they have. I have never blamed anyone other than myself for my own circumstances - I believe people were doing what they did in everyone's 'best interests' with what they knew at the time. I know that is not the case for others, and a lot of people have been abused. We all have different experiences, but I have been part of a group who put down their commonalities so as to find a way into the public arena. I would love to be part of a national group that could take our voices to the nation. I think a number of us should get together and approach a government funding body so we can set up a National Adoptees' Group. I have spoken to others about this in the past, but everyone is so busy trying to keep body and soul together with their own issues.

  2. U have always respected you Merlene and whilst we will disagree with in our views Of Rocklynn House especially from 1945 to 1960 when they on 13 December but failed to tell the Tasmanian government for a good four months, a sign that they held the state in contempt, yes the early days were a place where mothers could have their babies and generally were able to go home. They actually moved into the place known as Rocklynn House or other names in 1900 having maintained a temporary place elsewhere from 1895. I also now if they did partake in receiving sizeable donations from adopting parents which was suspected back in 1950, t was not illegal because the Tasmanian government had left a loophole n the law which was not closed until 1968.

    A for adoptees coming together that will never happen whilst so many are still influenced by the mothers narrative and their attempts sometime crude like " block the prick" sometimes subtle like spreading stories of others being pedophiles. but the influence comes from some mothers who have resented adoptees being fully included in the apology process as their own not some background garden gnome. There is also a need to understand that for many adoptees the issues in coping had their origins in their natural family background. The genome mapping project has shown the likelihood of bipolar is a fifty fifty proposition if both parents were bi polar. This is just one example of how science can now tell one's predispositions. but many do not want this promoted because it may be looked upon as blaming the mummies. yes we need to be able to curtail any push for market place adoption but also be aware that some states cover this up and actually increases removals by using what I call adoption LITE . called permanent care order. Whilst NSW was criticised for having about 80 known adoption by long term foster carers, 302 children were placed in permanent care orders in Victoria because the bar has been lowered and they can say look no adoptions. The use of Parenting pathways now approved by the Family court of Australia where a family can have a private agreement with a single pregnant girl to have and raise her baby whilst she remains the legal parent is another form of Adoption LITE. The attacks are there and it is not in the area of adoption but in mart tactics to remove the placement of children from the adoption statistics and being placed in the foster statistics. so whilst adoptees have been looking at the perils of adoptions to the point of wanting another Adoption LITE level, the goal lines are changing yet no one seems to care whilst they keep looking back at what happened under the old closed era. making up new names for permanent removal clouds the issue . we need to push for a modernised adoption where family names are retained , Natural parents should be warned that of any of their children present with evidence of continual physical abuse and continual sexual abuse, their parental rights are terminated straight away and they should never be allowed to see that child until they are 18. There is no time in this busy society to allow for such parents to get their act together and when you consider that the majority of kids placed in out of home care are repeat placements time is up for feral parents


For some reason I'm yet to fathom I'm unable to reply to comments left by others so thank you for dropping by and taking the time to read and comment. Merlene