Tuesday, February 28, 2012



This writer has been moved to make this contribution to the Inquiry because ofthe plethora of media reports on certain practices allegedly carried out by governments and staff of hospitals and institutions relating to the adoption of babies some fifty to sixty years ago.

As a former trainee nurse and midwife during the early part ofthat period. I feel it incumbent upon me to correct some ofthe misconceptions which have arisen and to take issue with the many gross misstatements of fact which seem to be accepted by the Committee as absolute truths.

One such is that these natural mothers were 'forced' into placing their children for adoption. What exactly is meant by the term 'forced? From my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, there was pressure, mainly from parents or other family members of the pregnant woman but I certainly did not see any evidence ofa mother being physically forced into giving up her child as is alleged so emotively by some ofthe witnesses. There was no gun held at their heads or threats of violence. Rather the opposite.

Many of the mothers with whom I came into contact could not wait to have the whole "experience" over and banished from their mind. At the time, many pretended their time in hospital did not happen, and that it was all a bad dream. I remember vividly one young girl who had come from interstate and spent some time in the hospital before delivery. Many months after the birth, I saw her standing at a bus stop. Pleased to see her I approached to inquire after her health and wellbeing but, on recognising me, she abruptly turned on her heel and walked away. 1 was rather disappointed as we had become quite friendly but then I realised that I was part of her past and she did not want to be reminded of that. I don't doubt there were mothers who wanted to keep their babies but no-one ever expressed so to me.

What I take issue with is the all embracing criticism and vindictiveness of most of tbe witnesses to the Inquiry against all and sundry involved in the adoption process. This presents a serious denial of natural justice towards all those doctors and nurses and ancillary staff who tried their very best to make the experience of these mothers so much less traumatic than it would otherwise have been.
As one doctor told me, "one cannot do any better than one's best..... Obviously, that best was not good enough.

The hospital and ancillary staff of all these institutions could not have been the ogres the witnesses would have us believe. By the law of averages, there must have been some good people. From my own personal observations I challenge any suggestion that my fonner colleagues treated these
mothers other than with the utmost professionalism and respect.

We all know that distance often lends enchantment to happy places and events. Conversely, memory can magnify and grossly distort real or imaginary bad experiences to the extent that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Suffice it to say that expressions such as 'betrayal', 'forcibly removed', 'unjustly abused', 'manipulation',,...to satisfythe ideals of others','abduction','denial of rights', 'persecuted', 'nefarious' and more, with allegations of being 'shackled to a bed',' illegal procedures and crimes' and so on makes one wonder what is fact or fiction. Some of these women seem to be endowed with the most vivid and most lurid of imaginations.

Just exactly how and where was the witness concerned 'shackled to a bed'? In prison somewhere?
Was the shackling carried out with chains, handcuffs, or other heinous instrument of torture? Or was she simply restrained from hurting herself and her baby by having a sheet wrapped tightly around her or restrained with bandages applied to her wrists? Some people have a very low pain
threshold and labour pains can be extremely severe. Besides, it must be remember that many of these mothers were very young, away from home and family and no doubt terrified, not only of being in a strange hospital or other institution but of the thought of giving birth itself. It was a time period of unsophisticates.

Another witness complains of being given medication to dry up her milk. Did she want to end up with engorged breasts with possible abscesses on her nipples? If she was not feeding her baby, how else was she to stop lactating? She could have taken the natural route over many painful
days but it is manifestly obvious that the nursing staff meant to help her, not hinder her.

A further witness alleges she was drugged after the birth. Please! Most probably she was suffering the after affects of normal pain killers which had been given her during labour She would have been given a drug to assist in expelling the placenta but in all, her "drugged" state could simply be reaction to the traumatic events pre and post delivery. Birth experiences are individualistic. One size does not fit all. There was no sinister conspiracy to cause her any harm of that I am sure. If she was given a sedative after birth, she probably needed it.

The practice of holding up a sheet in front of the mother or having a pillow placed on her stomach to prevent her from seeing the child was not an act of cruelty as has been portrayed but an act of kindness. The prevailing theory propagated at the time was that the less the mother saw or heard or had anything to do with her baby after birth the trauma of giving it up at a later date would be considerably reduced. It was an act of compassion. Misplaced, perhaps, but compassion none the less. Of course, this theory has now been debunked but, as with many other things, society and the medical profession did not have the knowledge and wisdom of foresight.

As to these alleged "illegal procedures and crimes", have they been particularised? If not why not? Surely, those accused have a right to state their cases and defend their actions if need be.

It may be very difficult for younger people to grasp the fact that fifty plus years ago there was a very strict moral code with very few areas of grey, unlike today's moral vacuum or liberalism (whichever one prefers) where children are having children with no restraint, ably assisted by
taxpayer funded government largesse including pensions, baby bonuses, housing, educational assistance and more. A Child Support Agency had not yet morphed into anyone's _ consciousness while "counselling" as a profession was virtually unknown. Today counsellors are, like
lemmings, everywhere!

It was a world beyond all imaginings and the mothers, the subject of this Inquiry, know that it was.
To say so is not the "propaganda" of the "pro-adoption" advocates or "the continued trite and offending excuses for actions of immeasurable inhumanity towards us mothers" as described by one witness. They are statements of fact. The seemingly cruel, raw fact of life as it was over a
half century ago. And, as mentioned supra, these mothers were and are well aware of this.

In my submission, the Committee should endeavour to ensure that this Inquiry does not degenerate into a witch hunt with these mothers finding in it a venue for wallowing in their own misery and guilt whilst at the same time blaming everyone else but themselves for their sorry situation. They opened their legs to their then boyfriends or lovers and, whether intended of not, a child was conceived. Some responsibility must be accepted by these mothers for what followed.

This is part of the submission 413. The writer shows that these practices did happen.
It shows the same attitude now as we faced 50 years age.
It shows drugs were given.Everything the writer denys she shows "happened."
When these mothers were in the delivery room to give birth, they were just young mothers. There was no adoption in place at that time. Did married mothers suffer the same treatment?
When medication was given to "dry up her Milk", she was still the mother of a new born and her baby was adoption free. What right was the mother given? Was she given her baby to feed ? We think not!
The writer goes on to write about the fathers.
Many mothers supplied fathers names and addresses but the social worker for Child Safety did not put this information on the original birth certificates. This ensured that the Social worker did not have to gain consent from the father.
This submission is a good example of what we faced then. No rights, No compassion. The delivery room should have been adoption free and all staff there should have shown compassion and help.
Even though there was a "strict moral code" it did not make these practices legal!

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