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Origins Inc.

The Sacrificial Lamb

 

lamb.jpg

 Adoption: The Ultimate DECEPTION

By Anne-Marie Constable.
My adoption story began as an 18 year old trainee nurse who found herself pregnant, unmarried and alone, knowing her "good Catholic" family would judge her harshly. I chose not to abort because at this time I was scrub nurse at several "illegal abortions" which doctors disguised, on the theatre list, as simple D&C's, and then acted surprised when they found a foetus. I felt very compromised. It was my task to take these tiny beings and watch as the wards man put them into a blazing furnace. I couldn't do this to the tiny fluttering baby inside me.

At four and a half months I had to gather all the physical and emotional strength I could and inform my parents of my pregnancy. They reacted with hysteria, anger and disgust. My mother, the second best Catholic in our family (as I have a sister a nun and she had to have been the best) called me a slut, and bleated out "what will the neighbours think?", one of whom was a known paedophile and the other was known to police because of his questionable behaviour around small children.

At this time my mother was secretary of the Catholic Women's League who were actively lobbying against abortion. Amongst all of this she quietly suggested that she could organise an abortion for me. I lost all respect for this woman and realised she was a hypocrite and so was the Catholic religion which she had put so much of herself into. I wanted nothing more than to get as far away from her as I could and come up with my own solution.

It was decided I should go to one of those "lovely" unmarried mothers homes where I could be looked after by good catholic nuns, but not Josephites as my sister is of that order, but another order so no gossip could leak out about me or my family, and then I could return home after four months and everyone would think I had been on a working holiday in Newcastle.

With the plans made, I went back to work and resigned and finished my roster. My mother then took control, by ringing around to find the best solution to "our problem". She decided on Villa Maria Home for unmarried mothers in Maitland, and "yes", that was far enough from Wollongong. Through these phone calls my mother formed an alliance with Sr Mary Martin O'Hern, the nun who became my social worker.

The Conditioning Begins

My mother and I went for our initial interview with Sr Mary Martin O'Hern in October 1973. I was 19 years old and 5 months pregnant. We first saw her together and then separately. At my mother's interview Sr. Mary Martin told her "not to worry" as she had chosen the perfect couple for her daughter's baby, however nothing was mentioned to me.

At my interview there was no discussion of adoption or the benefits clearly available since July 1973 that may have allowed me to keep my child - not that I was aware of any available assistance at the time. Perhaps if I had known about the benefit I might have had some balance of control over the situation and my mother.

This interview was a standard pre-admission for the unmarried mothers home. Little did I know then but a condition of entering this home was relinquishment of my baby - a fact my mother was made well aware of. Meanwhile the adoptive parents, whose age made them close to the end of their eligibility, were anxiously waiting in the wings, not unlike the recipients of a donor organ who hope and pray someone will die so that they may live. In this case it was to have a child of their own.

The Naughty Girls Home

I was banished from my family and became an inmate at this home. My life was controlled by a strict routine. Restrictions were put on contacts with my friends, only certain people were allowed to phone and they were definitely not allowed to visit - as two friends did after a four hour drive and were turned away.

Our diet was very strictly controlled. We were kept hungry. The records show that my weight gain was 1 stone in the first 3 months, taking my weight to 60 kgs, with no further weight gain for the rest of a full term pregnancy.

All week long we ate bland and tasteless meals, no sugar and no salt. Only once a week were we provided with a tasty treat. All I remember was thinking about food and that one meal to look forword to. Even my husband paralleled this torment to treatment meted out to prisoners of war.

At 7 months I was prescribed Debendox (Thalidomide) for morning sickness along with Valium for anxiety. Until then I had not been prescribed or taken any medication, and this was kept under lock and key by the nun in charge.

Whilst at this home we had regular trips to the hospital clinic and sometimes had interviews with Sr. Martin who regularly re-enforced the adoption propaganda. "If you're a good mother you'll give this baby to a married couple who are desperate for a baby of their own", and "If you love this baby you'll give it up for adoption"

Little did I know at the time that she knew the adoptive parents and was talking from first hand knowledge. My mother also knew. They were in this conspiracy together. I've recently found out that two of my four older sisters also knew. Of the other two who were not in my mother's confidence, one was not told about the pregnancy until years later and the other was only given brief details. They were my married sisters with children. Of the other two sisters, one was and still is a nun and the other has never married; they also became part of the conspiracy. I lost my power to these four women, Sr. Martin, my mother and two sisters.

The 8th month was traumatic to say the least. I was feeling trapped in a situation with the inevitable outcome - adoption. One Sunday afternoon I escaped and got to the local phone box where I called one of these two sisters and begged her to come and get me as I couldn't take anymore. They were systematically breaking me down and I felt totally helpless. She wouldn't come and told me that "all of this would be over in a few weeks", how I could put this all behind me and get on with my life. How Wrong She Was And Is - and what an irresponsible statement to make. I was still a human being with female emotions irrespective of my marital status.

Rebel Without a Clue

From that time I began to rebel, I was prescribed two Mogadons nightly to top up the Valium I was on.

In January 1974 I was admitted to hospital with a false labour. After a very long and lonely night in an empty labour ward they transferred me to an empty public ward. As the nurse wheeled me through the corridor, women who had never set eyes on me before whispered amongst themselves that I was the unmarried mother from the home who was giving her baby up for adoption. My hospital records and pathology reports were all marked B.F.A. And they knew of my situation through hospital staff gossiping.

I should have been more prepared, for gossip accompanied us wherever we went. Our behaviour in the labour ward was always the subject of gossip amongst labour ward staff, Sister Martin and the administration back at the home. Girls from the home were always conscious that they had to be on their best behaviour in the labour ward and not embarrass themselves as this reflected badly on the home itself.

After three days it was decided that I should be induced one day before the due date. Sr. Martin kept a close vigil through regular visits to keep the adoption propaganda continuing. She couldn't weaken now so close to the end. And then there was the adoptive parents to think about, how would they feel if they didn't get this long awaited baby? My mother came to stay with a local woman who was discreet in these delicate matters.

At the moment of birth my son was immediately taken from me, before the expulsion of the placenta. I was restrained by stirrups and found it impossible to move. He was first shown to me for a brief moment from the door of the labour ward, a distance of several metres. He was wrapped up and I only saw the side of his face. We never made eye contact and I wasn't allowed to hold or touch him. He was named by the trainee nurse who assisted the delivery. He was taken to the nursery at one end of the hospital and I was sent back to the empty public ward at the other end where I remained in isolation until discharge.

On the 2nd February 1974 Sr.M.M. Accompanied my parents my sister and myself to the nursery to visit my baby for the first and only time I was allowed to visit him. He was in a humidicrib and we were outside the nursery behind the viewing glass. I asked why he was having phototherapy and no one had informed me that he was having treatment. Because of my training, I knew that I, as his mother, should have been told about any treatment he received that wasn't routine.

Sr M.M. Was frustrated by my attempts to question his condition. Her response, finally, was "it was a common condition and not to worry about him. I should concentrate on my future".

The Invisible Mother

After this my parents and sister said their goodbyes and I thought they were returning to Wollongong, so I naively returned to the isolation of the empty ward only to learn in July 1997 that they didn't return immediately but were accompanied by Sr.M.M. To a private room near the nursery where they all nursed my son and spent as much time with him as they needed to before saying good-bye to him. I was not given this opportunity and was never even allowed to say good-bye to my own child. Obviously this family of mine was given more rights than me, his mother.

Once the family left I had only my thoughts to occupy my time. I fell further into post-natal depression and seemed to stay there. The hospital records show "patient distressed re baby, seen by R.M.O. And Social worker Sr. Martin, sedation given patient to settle".

The Obst. Registrar on the ward was a female Doctor who was of Indian descent and was at least 8 months pregnant herself. She always avoided me and looked away when I came into view. This was how most people reacted around me, so it wasn't anything out of the norm. I was almost invisible and was losing my identity, the home and Sr Martin made sure of that. But something compelled me to confront her as I believed her culture to be more tolerant and being female and pregnant had to contribute.

So I confronted her with "what should I do?" To my surprise, her answer was not like all the others, she said. "Mothers and their babies should not be separated for any reason. I am not allowed to say these things to you as I could lose my job." That brief encounter set up conflict.

This is when I became "difficult". Sr Martin no longer had my mother to keep up the propaganda and she had to put in a lot of time and energy, until I was discharged and safely away from the hospital and that much wanted baby.

When I was at my lowest point she told me how God wanted me to give my son for adoption as he had these wonderful people waiting to give him a good home, something I couldn't do and that I could have many more babies and I would get over this before I knew it.

Because my parents wouldn't support me and I was kept in the dark by Sister Mary Martin, she wouldn't inform me of my rights and of the financial assistance available which under the adoption act was her duty. I couldn't even demand to leave the hospital with my son because I had no money and no accommodation so he would have been deemed destitute and at risk and taken into care.

Another alternative was to have the father agree to marry me, Mario, my son's father, was nowhere to be found and hadn't even replied to the phone calls or the letter I sent him. I realised very early on that he was immature and only interested in massaging his large Italian ego. He was also seeing another girl from Wollongong at the same time he had been seeing me. Something I knew about musicians first hand was, they were not good at being faithful.

Sr. Mary Martin then told me a story about a girl like me who foolishly kept her baby and after 6 months, without any support, she found herself with the only option of giving her 6 month daughter for adoption. As it turns out she was talking about my son's soon to be sister which also proved she knew this family first hand.

Well, she was good, she had broken me down to my lowest point. I was so stressed and anxious I developed a kidney infection and had to stay in hospital two more days and for two more days she had to keep up the propaganda and conspiracy in order to take my baby defrauding me of my human and legal rights. A right every mother should have automatically, to have the baby she gives birth to grow up under her loving care - not some total stranger with more money, better job prospects, married and infertile, requirements for good adoptive parenting.

I was told I could not leave the hospital and return home until I signed some papers. So she took me to another section of the hospital and left me in a dark room until Sister Mary Martin and another woman showed up. I was then left alone with this woman. I was totally unprepared for what they had planned for me. I was emotionally and physically worn out. This woman began badgering me into signing some papers. I began to panic and cried uncontrollably. She said, well if you don't sign you won't be leaving this hospital.

Sr. Martin knocked at the door and entered gesturing to the woman. They both left the room discussing the problem. Sr. Martin re-entered alone and said, "this is not the time to be difficult and selfish, stop thinking of yourself, sign the papers so you can go home and get on with your life".

She then left the room and the other woman re-entered. There was no discussion, I felt I had no power but sign, I then left.

I finally returned to my home. The next weeks were a living hell. I stayed sedated and had lost too much weight, I had lost my appetite and slept through the grief. If I wasn't sleeping I was crying. This had to be normal and "getting on with my wonderful life". When friends, whom I hadn't seen for months called, mother went into action shooing them away from our home and calling them liars if they asked about the birth. So everyone stayed away and played her game.

Attempted Suicide

After weeks of this I couldn't deal with the grief and abandonment. The loss of my son was something I knew I was not going to recover from, I didn't know about the revocation period and even if I had who could have advised me on how to go about it? Everyone but me was totally focused on an adoption outcome and Sr. Martin would have put up any barriers she felt necessary to achieve a son for the adoptive family she had chosen. The only option I felt I had was suicide, so I chose death by overdose of valium. Obviously it didn't work. I was rushed into hospital to have my stomach pumped, while mother fixed her hair and would follow later.

On admission the staff growled about what a waste of time it was trying to save me. I should be left to die. After my stomach was pumped I was kept in overnight for observation. A psychiatrist popped in and asked if I knew why I wanted to end my life. I knew alright! I told him I had a baby taken for adoption only weeks before and I could not cope. The good Doctor merely tapped me on the leg and said, "you'll get over it, stay on the medication", then he went about his rounds. That was the full extent of my counselling.

I slowly began to withdraw and learnt to keep the grief to myself because everyone had decided, in their wisdom, that I was abnormal.

I guess I lived through the next 23 years in some sort of detached state not trusting anyone and eventually breaking from my still controlling parents with whom I now wish to have no further contact. My sisters never contact me, I always have to make the first approach. I know this is their guilt.

The Reunion

Friday 25th July 1997, my son John arrived home from studying music in Europe. One of the first things he did was ring my mother and inquire about my whereabouts. She wouldn't give him my phone number so she rang me and broke the news, I was shocked to say the least, and couldn't talk. She said,"pull yourself together and ring him back and for God's sake, don't make a fool of yourself". I had a wonderful reunion with my beautiful, handsome son who I recognised immediately. He and I have many genetic traits and he has a resemblance to his father also. His siblings love him as does my fabulous husband.

Unwelcomed Advice - Yet Again!

A brief remark by the adoptive mother (who had driven down for the reunion, along with the adoptive father, to our first meeting and were close by) brought up the anxiety again by declaring that,"Now that you have met him you can put it all behind you and get on with your life." This is another example of the arrogance, ignorance and total lack of sensitivity to the long term grief I have been suffering since he was kidnapped from me all in the name of God.

Just Whose Baby is This?

Our reunion progressed through the wonderful "honeymoon period". The day my mother met him she rushed at him. "Oh WE did the right thing, how are your parents they must be wonderful people". I stood by and she did not acknowledge me. I was amazed by her arrogance and betrayal of me, her own daughter, as she viewed his adoptive parents as - saviours. She wanted to meet the adoptive parents and bring them under her umbrella so she could justify her role, and pour out her gratitude to them.

She then dropped the bomb shell - how she, dad and a sister got to nurse him without me knowing. When I asked about this in front of my son she dismissed me with. "You were not allowed to anyway - so don't get upset". I honestly knew then that I had no control over the outcome of the adoption, and seriously believe she took the role of my son's mother, My Role, which is why she can't understand why I get upset over the abduction of my child.

In her head I was only the vessel through which my son would enter this world and could not possibly have any maternal feelings, And that's how the two sisters who conspired with her justify their participation as well.

My son, having been witness to my mother's behaviour, realised for the first time that it was not me, his mother, who didn't want him, but his aunts and grandmother who gave him to strangers.

Guilt? - Perhaps

Their guilt was evident at each sisters' separate reunions with him. I witnessed an enormous relief from both of them as they threw themselves at him. They couldn't stand the fact that I was having this reunion and they were excluded, so they clamoured for their recognition. I was a fool, I shouldn't have asked my son to meet these people, but I can't bring myself to be like them. They really didn't deserve to share in the happiness of the reunion as they contributed to his death by adoption and to my sacrificed emotional and mental health in the process.

It took a reunion and 23 years to eventually get the truth from everyone about their complicity in the process and their highly unethical, illegal and questionable behaviour. Another bolt came when I went to the Catholic Adoption Agency at Croydon to inquire about my records and found they were not there as I had been led to believe all these years. After a phone call it was discovered Sr Martin had a falling out with the agency and she adopted my son out through the government system. A social worker said "she often did this", but only if it suited her.

What If?

The greatest irony would be if the Catholic church put the blame on my parents and family members for not supporting their unmarried pregnant daughter at the end of the current Parliamentary inquiry into adoption practices being held in NSW.

Given that the Catholic church is a "great buck passer", I wonder how my parents and sisters would cope when or if the driving force behind the commitment they had to the church to help Sr. Martin bring about the adoption conspiracy, later abandons and blames them - as the church did to me years ago?

At least I have come to terms with the hypocrisy of the Catholic church, and I know if there is a God, She certainly wouldn't come under the heading of any earthly religion, as religion is about power and control and only people who can't find the truth inside themselves need a religion to tell them how to think.

To Finally Know

I have no doubt that my son's adoption is illegal and Sr. Mary Martin should be charged criminally with breaches of the Crimes Act. "Kidnapping" (where no statute of limitations applies), along with "Coercion" and "Making False and Misleading Statements". Also the adoptive parents who "Gained a Benefit by Deception".

Then there's the conspiracy involvement of my mother, Sister Mary Martin and my two sisters.

The conditions for entry to the unmarried mothers home, and treatment at the clinic and hospital breached the 1965 Adoption Act, as did the records marked with B.F.A, (baby for adoption). It was illegal to promote and encourage adoption, not to mention the violations of both our human rights.

Where were they? I didn't know we had any. I have only, in the past two years, found I did have rights after all. Personally I can no longer live with the fact that injustices and the subsequent damage endured by mothers and their children, on a daily basis, continues to be minimised if not ignored by those who participated in this scandalous crime against mother nature and humanity.

Email:   Lily


Copyright Dian Wellfare, Origins Inc, 1995