Sunday, March 11, 2012

Time of morality delivers sorrow for unmarried mothers

PASSING JUDGMENT: Laws that whipped babies away from single mothers were nothing more than moral and religious zealotry. Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)
HOW many of those who wallow in the warm illusions of their youth and yearn for the certainties of not so long ago, have been following the revelations of the appalling treatment of unmarried mothers in the 1960s and 1970s?

More to the point, how many knew what happened but tucked the truth away behind a wall of smug denial and now selectively decry the degeneracy of youth and the complicity of government?

Last week's report into forced adoption tabled in Federal Parliament stripped the humbug from brutal and heartless policies that permanently separated single mothers from their children.
And, sometimes, they denied young men the joy of fatherhood.

Savage and judgmental laws and regulations were exacerbated by deceit and thuggery built on moral and religious zealotry.
It was the climate of the times, we are told, although those of us born after the war chafed under its obvious injustice.

MOTHERS forced to give up their babies want the Federal Government to apologise for past adoption practices.

It too often piled helplessness upon shame, a burden sometimes shared but often carried by the woman alone.
Some men - boys, sometimes - ducked their responsibilities but there were young couples who were willing to shoulder their burden and were dissuaded or disenfranchised by families and institutions who thought they were unworthy or incapable of parenthood.

Informed consent? You're kidding.

A little more pride wouldn't go astray in 2012, but who would want to return to a world where fear of shame could make families partners to official policies that ripped the very hearts out of their daughters?
I saw it happen.
This was a time when false pride and the pretensions of good name sometimes counted more than love in even the otherwise best of families.
The role of authority and hospital functionaries drew most attention last week, but the family strictures of an unforgiving moral code seemed to go understated.
I knew of one young man who, when he made contact with his natural mother comparatively recently, was still sworn never to reveal the family disgrace.
Our self-appointed moral guardians crushed young women trapped at their most vulnerable, but there were some who were able to defy them.

A contemporary of mine invented a husband who was purportedly serving in Vietnam and stuck with her fabrication through thick and thin so that she could keep the child who has grown into a fine woman and her joy for life.
Others didn't have the support, the maturity, the confidence, the opportunity or even the luck to demonstrate that love or even experience it for more than a fleeting second.

That is a cause for unending sorrow. It's a terrible episode in our collective past but it will never be over for those who lost children or who never knew parents. It has left wounds so deep that the inquiry found there is even anger over the terms "natural" and "adopted" when referring to adoption.
What was it all about except an arrogant exercise of power, of age over youth, in a society strangled by moral absolutism and the enforcement of cruel behavioural codes on others?

Still, there are those who decry our supporting mothers' mechanisms, who belittle the nurturing capacity of young women and would, if they could, steal their children and leave them with nothing to nurse but sorrow and guilt.
I grew up in a world that couldn't find it in its collective heart to understand, support or forgive those who through exuberance, accident or error leapt the prevailing social boundaries.
Still there are those who think it was a better place.
They must be kidding.
By Terry Sweetman
Sunday Mail 111/3/2012.

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