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Queensland......February 15 th 1967.
I was living in a flat at Rocklea Brisbane with my fiancee Steve. At the time I was 16 and it was my 17th birthday on the 19th of March a month later.
My mother had moved to Sydney at the time with my stepfather and my seven brothers and sisters so I stayed in Brisbane with my fiancee Steve. We had decided to get married when I turned 17 because I was a couple of months pregnant. Steve was in a band at the time and used to practice at night with a friend of his.
I was asleep that night as Steve and his friend were playing their guitars quietly in the next room. All I remember was being shaken awake and looking up at a policeman. The next thing he told me to go into the kitchen where he questioned me about my age, parents, and why I was living there. I was terrified because he treated me like a criminal when he found out that I was 16. He told me that he was taking me into Custody. His words were that if I were a month older that he could not do anything about it.
They made me get dressed and took me to the Boggo Road Watchouse for the night. I remember the policeman saying to the other one "We could get into trouble for taking her here because she is under 18". The police at the desk took my belt off me and told me that I was to get the deluxe cell because the bed had sheets on.
They took me down to the cells and locked the door. I still remember the cell to this day. It was bare with just a bed on one wall and a toilet bowl on the other.
The next morning after a terrifying night listening to drunks yelling and cops opening the hatch in the door I was given breakfast which consisted of porridge and a large tin mug with a watery cup of tea.
Later on that day I was picked up from the watch house and taken to the childrens court. I was in a daze, I did not know what was happening to me, it was like a bad dream. The magistrate asked where my family was and I told them they were in Sydney.
They committed me to Holy Cross Girls Home on the 16th of February. I was taken to the home and put up into the dormitory. I spent nearly a week up there on my own all day as I was too sick and upset to go down to mix with the other girls.
Later that week I was brought before the court again and committed indefinitely to the Home.
During this time and for quite some time after I did not know what was going on. No one told me what was being done to secure my release. I learnt later that my mother had not been informed of my detention until after I had been committed to the care of the Department Family Service.
They (the Department and the Nuns) would not let Steve have any contact with me. Although he had been to the home they did not let him see me.
A couple of weeks later I was called into the Nun's office to sign the papers to get married.
It seemed that Steve had gone to Sydney to get permission to get married from my mother and his father. I found out later from my mother that they were happy for us to get married, our parents had even given Steve wedding presents to take back to Brisbane with him.
My mother told me that they were expecting to hear that Steve and I had married.
I waited and waited for word to let me know when we could get married. I found out 23 years later, through Steve what had happened. He had gone back to the Home and gave the papers to the nun who was in charge and she laughed at him and told him that we were too young to get married.
They refused to let him see or contact me. I never heard a word about what was being done to help my situation.
I spent the next seven months locked away with no contact with the outside world, not allowed to phone or write letters without them being read by the nuns, and if they did not like what I wrote they would put the letters in the bin.
We used to watch her reading them after we'd written them. There was no way of getting any information out of the home. My mother told me late that she had not received any information from the Department or the Home about my health and well being.
On the 1st of September 1967 I was in mass at 6 o'clock in the morning when I went into labour with my son. I was transferred to the General Hospital in Brisbane where I had him later that night.
The labour was a painful one because they had my legs tied up in stirrups and I felt like they were breaking my back. I still suffered back pain for many years later from the way they delivered my son. I was transferred to the ward where the unmarried mothers go and never got to hold my son.
While I was in the hospital I got in contact with Steve and he came up and saw me. A girl that was in the home saw him and reported it to the social worker of the department. She came up and saw me and brought the adoption papers. I told her that I didn't want to sign them.
She told me that the department would keep me in custody until I turned 18 which was another 6 months down the track, and what was I going to do with the baby.
She said that it would be put into foster care and even when I did get out of the home I would have to prove that I could look after a child. Even if I did get married that didn't mean I would get the baby back and that could also take years.
She also reminded me that by seeing Steve I had done something wrong that could be punished by being sent to a maximum security girls home called Karala.
During the course of this discussion with this Social Worker at no time did she make any mention of my rights and or offer me any type of advice on financial assistance which I believe was available to me at that time.
In other words I was given no choice but to sign the papers handing over my son. I feel that this was done under threat of keeping me and the baby under the control of the Department for as long as they could. I was informed at the time of signing the papers that I had 30 days to change my mind. But being kept in custody, and having absolutely no access to communication with the outside world, this was a false statement because any change of mind would go completely ignored.
I learnt from my mother that she never received any information about me, until the Department wrote to her approximately six weeks after the birth of my baby asking her if she would take me back to live with her. My mother agreed to this.
I was discharged from the home on the 27th of October 1967 nearly two months after the birth of my child. I was packed up and flown down to my family in Sydney and that was the end of it as far as the Department and the Home was concerned. Only it wasn't the end as far as I was concerned.
The pain and scars have never healed in 31 years and I think they never will. I was made to feel that I had committed a crime to society and god for being young and in love and thinking at the time that the world was indeed a wonderful place with a promise of love and happiness.
But the choices made for me by people, some of them who never even knew me, changed my life. I will never be that person who can say to themselves this is MY LIFE. These have been my choices.
When the laws changed in 1991 I applied for identifying information and was told that my son had lodged a full contact veto.
My friend Jeanette also had a contact veto. We came together to support and encourage each other at the behest of Dian Wellfare of Origins nsw early this year (98). She thought we could give each other moral support. I had decided to search for my son Tim and searched the federal electoral rolls in Sydney. I also did a little research into the background of contact vetos.
Armed with all this knowledge we decided to meet in Queensland in April. Jeanette took time off and helped me with my search for Tim.
She had decided that it was going to be too difficult to find her son as he had a popular name. It was during the search that fate directed Jeanette's eyes to the names of two Tims, both living in the same street, one at number six and the other at number eleven. Tim at eleven was born on the same day as my son and Tim at six was born 10 days later. We decided to track down the Tim at number eleven as he looked the likelier prospect.
Five phone calls later turned up his phone number. I rang him and asked him if he was my son and he said he would ring his sister and ask her if he was adopted.
He rang me a little later and told me that he wasn't, but the Tim that had lived across the road was.
I rang his sister in the morning and she confirmed it. She also told me that his birthday was the same as my sons.
I decided to check the 1998 electoral rolls and discovered that this Tim lived just up the road from my mother. I took my life in my hands and went to his house.
Tim's wife Shona was at home and I told her that I was looking for Tim. She told me that he was still at work and she asked me why I was looking for him. I explained and she was very cautious.
Tim was coming home in a few minutes and I told her that I had to leave as I did not want to be there when he arrived. So I gave her the two journals that I had made for him which explained how he was lost and the extent to which I had gone to find him.
Shona asked me to stay and I said that I had to go, but if Tim read the journals, and it was my Tim, he could keep them, and if not, could she ring me and I would pick them up. I got away just as he pulled up, so I missed seeing him. We waited at my mother's for a call that night but the phone stayed silent. The next morning at 9.30am the phone rang and my mother said "its for you".
A voice on the phone asked me if I was Lily and I said yes. He then said to me "I think you can stop searching. I think I am the Tim you are looking for". I remember my heart going through the roof I had found my son at last. We met each other an hour later.
As soon as I saw him I looked into his face and saw every one of my family there. Considering that my son's name was not on the list I took to Queensland, finding him was a complete twist of fate.
While all this was going on, Jeanette had returned home and I thought I'd go and pay a visit to the local state member. It was during the course of conversation with him that he said something that made my ears prick up.
It was about a young friend of his who had been adopted and by chance had the same name as Jeanette's son.
A couple of months previously I had given Jeanette some 1990 articles from the Courier Mail about the veto system and the name of one person came to mind. I told Jeanette this.
After I returned home from the reunion with my son, Jeanette rang and told me that she had rang the person in the article for information regarding the vetos and during the conversation found out that he was her son.
The atmosphere in Queensland was pandamonium we had both found each others son, virtually on the same day. The joy was uncontrollable, at last, right overcame wrong, good overcame evil, and we knew at last where our sons were.
A complete victory against all odds considering Jeanette had no real leads and none of the names on the list I took to Queensland contained the name of my son.
I had met my son every day since I found him and he was happy to be found. I saw the look of pride in his face when he knew how hard I had fought to find him. I urge every mother to stand up and fight for her child, don't let the fear of the system intimidate you to stay powerless, our children want to be reclaimed and be told that we love them. I know my son did.
At last I feel like his mother and not a beggar.
My joy was complete when I received a Mothers Day card from him. My son had finally come home.


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