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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 October 2010) . . Page.. 5122 ..

Just this morning I received an email from a birth mother, and I just want to share that email with you. It says:

I also am a birth mother. My daughter was placed for adoption in Melbourne, and luckily I am now in touch with her, 47 years later.

We were all told it was the best thing for our children at the time. However that is by no means certain, and what is certain is that many birth parents suffered greatly afterwards, many unable to have any more children. And adopted people too suffered much from feelings of rejection.

So I applaud the actions in Australia where there are attempts at last to recognise this pain and at least to apologise though the pain itself will always be there for many.

I also just wanted to finish up with another story recounted by Mr Templeman during his speech on the WA apology. This is a slightly condensed version, but I think it does sum up the stories, the experiences and the importance of what we are doing in this Assembly today. It is by a woman called Phyllis, and she wrote:

When my baby was due I went to the Hillcrest Hospital. Us girls lived at the back of the hospital, while we waited to give birth. The night my baby was born they took me down to the labour ward at the other end of the hospital, I had to walk. They had to help me up into the bed as I was in a lot of pain.

I had a needle put in my leg and I don’t remember anything until the next morning. I was still very groggy and was put into another bed. I must have slept for two or three days but when I awoke I asked where is my baby? One of the girls said you had your baby a couple of nights ago don’t you remember? She told me that the baby was probably already gone.

I cried for about three days and the sisters gave me tablets to dry up my milk and something else to calm me down.

Someone came and took me to a dark room with a very pale light. I told him I wasn’t signing any papers and that I don’t have a name picked out.

This was repeated on a number of occasions. Each time Phyllis replied “no”. Phyllis goes on to say that a nice sister came in and asked her whether she had had a boy or a girl. Phyllis told her that no-one would tell her the sex of her baby. The sister informed her that she had given birth to a boy. She then writes that an arrangement was made “against the rules” for her to see her son:

She told me to come down to the nursery about 10pm, and that I would be able to see my son and cuddle him for about half an hour, but not to say anything because she could get the sack for what she was doing. I was able to cuddle my son and I told him that one day I would see him again.

I think that sums up the importance of the debate today, and I thank members for their involvement.

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