A submission To The NSW Parliamentary Inquiry
Opinion: Lack of support from family, parents and society enabled the aspirations of religious institutions
to right the moral wrongs I, as an unmarried mother had committed. The term "social cleansing" fits.
Total disregard for my rights as a birth mother by knowingly separating my son from me at the moment of birth
with the knowledge, at the time, of the potential harm to both me and my son was premeditated. The adoption laws were deliberatly
broken. The only objective being to place my illegitimate son with an infertile couple. In furtherance it was a denial of
natural justice and our human rights.
Now I wonder, was there a conspiracy between the State and Federal Governments and Religious institutions to
enable coercive adoption practices to flourish with the mindset being, relocation of my son to an infertile married couple.
The propaganda campaign which was performed on me, while in care, badgering and constant talk about adoption
being the only option, by nuns, social workers and hospital staff made me feel immoral and inferior. I had disgraced my family,
religion and community. I was a failure as a woman and therefor had no right to aspire to be a good mother. I believed my
baby was therefor better off, without me in his life.
Being placed in the care of nuns, women who lived celibate good lives dedicated to God, something I was supposed
to aspire to, compounded my guilt and disgrace. My rehabilitation and stability , with the focus on family was their responsibility.
Paying the huge price, adoption, for becoming an unmarried mother and breaking society's rules was therefor my only option.
I was not given any emotional support during my hospital stay. I was never given objective consultations, nor
was I given any knowledge of my rights as a birth mother or any alternatives to adoption. Along with nightly sedation of 2
mogadons and daily with valium my reasoning ability over such an enormous decision was greatly diminished. Being constantly
told, I could not care for my own son, left me feeling totally inadequate as a woman and mother and a complete failure as
a human being.
I was suppose to have been informed clearly, before signing the consent forms, of the support that was available
and alternatives to adoption also of the detrimental harm to both my child and myself, of the pain and grief that the loss
of my child could cause in later life. Why Was'nt I Told This? Who Made The Decision Not To Inform Me?
A Contravention Of The 1965 Adoption Act On Mental Health And Legal Grounds.
The betrayal of the social worker, Sister Mary Martin, who I thought was acting in my child's and my best interests,
was using brain washing and coercion to procure my son for adoption. I have come to realise none of this was in my best interests.
My son had a healthy mother who loved and wanted him, why wasn't this encouraged?
After the adoption I returned to my parent's home in Wollongong as though nothing had happened. I was suppose
to have been working in Newcastle for four months, no questions asked. The adoption became silent and I internalised the deep
grief, separating from society to survive the trauma. No grieving was allowed or took place, I was expected to cope without
counselling. On over-hearing a group of women say "What sort of a woman would give her own baby away to complete strangers".
only compounded my despair to which I unsuccessfully attempted suicide. A psychiatrist, at Wollongong Hospital asked what
the problem was, to which I replied that I had my son adopted months earlier, he noted this in the hospital notes and discharged
me with no discussion or counselling.
The adoption process has permanently damaged me as a person and on the way I relate to my family. I currently
have no contact with my 84 year old parents. I only have contempt for the Catholic Religion for allowing these atrocities
to take place.
In 1990 I sought counselling at the Post Adoption Resource Centre Paddington where I attended for several sessions.
For the past two years I have been seeing a local Clinical Psychologist on a regular basis to deal with the damage caused
by the loss of my son.
July 1997 my son then 23 contacted me for a reunion, he was home from studying in Europe, for eight weeks, an
experience I will never forget. Our reunion was successful. The emotions which I had suppressed at the birth come flooding
back. Even today when I phone him in Europe I begin trembling uncontrollably, a reaction I haven't had since his birth when
he was immediately taken from me. I associate this with the grief I was never allowed to experience and the great loss I still
My belief is that this country, it seems, has no concept of the mother child bond. Adoption is the ultimate
disgrace to this, so called, enlightened, educated, caring society.
My Son Had A Healthy Capable Mother Who Loved And Wanted Him. Why Didn'T The System Allow
This process has been extremely confronting, I had a great deal of anxiety in writing
it but I realised, if I gave up and others did also our stories would be kept silent and the pain of past adoption practices
could never heal.
I thank the committee for giving me this opportunity to tell my story.
For the last four months of my pregnancy, October 1973 to January 1974, I was taken from my home, family and friends in
Wollongong to Villa Maria home for unmarried mothers in East Maitland. This home was run by the Singleton Sisters Of Mercy
with Sister Giovanni as administrator.
From this base I attended the Out Patients Department of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital Waratah for regular pre-natal
check-ups. There I also attended interviews as an out patient with Sister Mary Martin O'Hearn a social worker attached to
the hospital which was also administered by the Singleton Sisters Of Mercy.
During these sessions I was never informed of any alternatives to adoption and adoption was always reinforced as the only
option available to me. Statements such as: "If you love your baby you will put him up for adoption. "
"If you are a good mother you will give your baby to a married couple who themselves can't have children."
"Every baby deserves a real family with both parents."
"This baby deserves a father."
"No man will marry you with a child."
"There is no financial assistance available and your parents won't support you and you won't be able to cope with a child."
"You won't be able to work and look after a baby."
Stories of other mothers who tried to keep their babies and for various reasons failed, were reinforced
My stay at Villa Maria was under constant supervision. Our daily routine was to cook, clean and keep busy by doing crafts
etc.. We were given special diets and visits were restricted. I was lonely and isolated. For the duration of my stay I was
never given pre-natal information nor was I allowed to attend pre-natal classes and no-one ever discussed the birthing process.
I remember being totally unprepared for the delivery.
During my stay at this home I was required to pay a weekly fee for accomodation, for which I never received a receipt and
recent enquiries confirm there are no records kept of this home.
On the 25th. January 1974 I was admitted to the Labour Ward of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital Waratah. The expected date
of my confinement was the 30th January 1974 but after an unsuccessful labour I was kept in the hospital and induced on the
29th January 1974 one day early because of the Australia Day holiday.
At the moment of birth my son was immediately taken from me, before the expulsion of the placenta. I was restricted
by stirrups and found it difficult to move. He was first shown to me for a brief moment from the door of the labour ward,
a distance of several meters, he was wrapped and I only saw the side of his face. We never made eye contact and I was denied
the right to hold him or touch him.
He was named Brendon James by the trainee nurse who assisted delivery. Brendon was then taken to the nursery, situated
at the southern end of the maternity ward. I was sedated and returned to an empty public ward at the northern end of the ward
where I remained in isolation until my discharge.
On the 2nd. February 1974 Sister Mary Martin accompanied my parents, my sister and myself to the nursery to visit my baby
for the first and only time I was allowed to see him. I wasn't permitted to nurse or touch him. Brendon was in a humidicrib
and we were outside the nursery behind the viewing glass.
I questioned why he was receiving phototherapy treatment in the humidicrib and as his legal guardian I had not been
informed of his condition and had not been asked permission to treat him. I was distressed and annoyed at this breach of my
rights. Sister Mary Martin was frustrated and annoyed at my attempts to question my baby's condition which was a complete
and utter denial of my rights as the mother of that child. Sister Mary Martin's coercive objective was to avoid conflict and
to satisfy a successful adoption.
Prior to this I was a 3rd year trainee nurse and knew his treatment was not normal procedure. Upon questioning she became
defensive and would not listen to my objections and was dominating in her demeanour. My rights were denied. Her response ,
finally was "it was a common condition and not to worry about him. I was returned to my ward.
Only in July 1997 did I learn that on this occasion my parents and sister, after saying good bye to me I thought my parents
and sister were returning to Wollongong, were in fact, accompanied by Sister Mary Martin to a private room near the nursery
where they all nursed my baby and spent as much time with him as they needed, before saying good bye to him. I was denied
this opportunity and was never allowed to say good bye to him, a gross miscarriage of justice.
On Monday 4th February 1974 I was discharged from the hospital and was immediately taken to the social worker section of
the hospital to sign consent forms before returning to Villa Maria home.
Taking Consent 4th February 1974.
Six days following my baby's birth, after being discharged from the hospital, I was taken, in maternity clothes, to the
"Social Work" section at the rear of the hospital and put in a dark room. Sister Mary Martin was present with a `consent taker'
from the Department of Family Services, her name being S. Wilson. I was told that I was her first case. She was very efficient,
dressed in a suit, she always stood or walked around the room whilst I was seated at a desk with documents in front of me.
I felt powerless I was in maternity clothes although I was no longer pregnant. Feeling distressed, post natally depressed,
confused, empty, weak and emotionally worn out from long periods of crying alone in an empty public hospital ward. I had lost
a lot of weight since my son's birth and had also lost my appetite which made me physically weak as well a fighting of a urinary
Then an interrogation began, considering my physical and emotional state, I went into shock. I was totally unprepared for
this ordeal and needed support and comfort not the grueling experience which was to follow. I had not wanted to relinquish
my baby but no alternatives had been offered I felt desperate and anxious, wishing for a miracle. Severing all ties with my
baby was to be the out come and this was made clear to me. I began crying uncontrollably, the `consent taker' was badgering
me into signing the consent forms she persisted even though I was in no fit state to make such an enormous decision in the
time I was alotted. I wanted her to leave so I could compose myself or leave the room for a break but none of these were allowed.
I had been discharged and was to return to Villa Maria home for unmarried mothers but I could not leave the hospital until
the consent forms were signed. At this time I remember feeling trapped, I became detached, I could not bear anymore.
Sister Mary Martin knocked at the door and entered the room gesturing to the `consent taker'. They both left the room discussing
the problem. When Sister Mary Martin re-entered the room she was alone. She told me that I was doing "The right thing",
also saying, "If you are a good mother you will give your baby to a married couple who can't have children themselves"
and "Adoption is in your child's best interests, this way he can be provided with the best from a loving couple". "Your
son needs a father and you can't provide him with one". "This is not the time to think only of yourself". "don't be selfish,
now sign the papers and you will get over this and get on with your life". "She (S.Wilson) is inexperienced and you
are her first case, I've spoken to her, she is not to upset you any further and I will be reporting her for the way she handled
your case. "
Sister Mary Martin left the room and S.Wilson re-entered the room. There were no more discussions I was shown where to
sign then left.
- Our children must be informed and made aware of what occurred between religious orders and mothers, and how they were
misled, exploited and not been informed of their right to keep their children.
- Consideration for prosecution of the religious and community service groups who blatantly deceived mothers. (Breaches
of the Adoption Act 1965). Further consideration be given for those concerned to be prosecuted for obtaining a benefit by
deception ie; conspiracy .(Crimes Act 1909).
- All mothers be afforded immediate counselling, this councelling should be carried out by independent counsellors not involved
in the adoption system nor religious orders.
- These mothers are victims of crimes perpetrated by religious orders and adoption agencies and the councelling to be paid
for by these organizations. As part of compensation package.
- That the original birth certificate be used as a legal document not as current system has them stamped `Not For
Official Use' and only recognises the amended birth certificate of adoptive parents.
- That this inquiry also investigate how the children were placed.. As many mothers were deceived about the adoptive parent's
- A formal apology by Federal and State Government, Religious orders and other organizations involved in the theft of babies.
4 July 1998.
Copyright © Origins Inc, 1995