My story will always appear frustratingly long and complex to others…but over the decades it has become an indelible part of me. To try and write about my healing process in an open letter seems ridiculous, but I feel I have to somehow let others know that they can always have hope too! Why my search has ended up taking so long was because I always needed to emotionally digest each shocking piece of the puzzle before continuing.
Here’s a brief note of my search:
I was born in 1968 at King Edward and I still have no satisfactory record or explanation of where I was until my adoption in August 1972. My adoptive father divorced his first wife in August 1972 and remarried in September 1972 before moving to Victoria… and no. I haven’t got the dates wrong! And I don’t know how he got away with it either!
His second wife is my ‘Mum’ – pure and simple (as is her family mine, too!) – and she has helped me with my search since 1986… that’s when I found out I was adopted! My adoptive father didn’t tell me (or my brother- different biological story) in 1979, as he and Mum had planned, but continued his elaborate lies and deception. Mum had believed I knew and our lives~ went on as usual. However, the shocking truth of his deceitfulness ensured her trust in her husband was shattered and they divorced in 1988.
In 1993 I was in a position to travel to Perth and begin the search – I found out that my birth mother was part Aboriginal. A bit of a shock! In 1996 I received the Family Court Records of my adoption and discovered my birth father’s name – this was contrary to the continuing tales of my adoptive father, who was adamant that he was my birth father! These court records also revealed my birth mother’s married name, but a search by Jigsaw only proved that she had not married in WA.
I sought out a mediator to help me with the mess of this legacy, and I travelled again to Perth in 1997. I contacted Yorganup, who actually knew my birth mother and did an outreach to her! But then she placed contact and information vetoes against me… sometimes if I allow the negative emotions to get the better of me, I wonder if they botched it up? By now, I had to deal with the Department of Family and Children’s Services – again. I had come full circle within a decade and with hardly anything substantial to show for it. In 1998 I sent a letter and a photo album to the department for the message box service. They did a second outreach to let my birth mother know of the message, but that was unsuccessful too.
Turning 32 years old in February 2000 and settling down with my wonderful man only increased the urgency “to know” – what if I wanted to get married and have kids? The pressure was now on, I updated the message and felt ready to search for my birth father and first adoptive mother – maybe they could fill in some blanks? In April 2000 I travelled to Perth for the third time and had greater success overall. I discovered, quite by accident, two books in the Aboriginal Affairs Library that revealed a lot about my birth mother’s childhood and working life. Their Family History Officer assisted me with dealing with the emotions of guilt that I had for feeling angry earlier at the vetoes. I accessed my birth mother’s second marriage certificate and found out her current occupation… and then I fully realised and empathised why she had the vetoes in place. I altered my message box letter to acknowledge my true emotions, met my mediators at the department and Jigsaw for the final time, then travelled home, weary, sad and my mind boggling with an overload of details.
In May 2000 my Jigsaw mediator rang to say that contact had been made with my birth father. A fortnight has passed since that momentous call and we have exchanged letters, photos and phone calls. Already he has answered some fundamental questions of “WHY?!” He looks and sounds like a really nice man and both of our families know and are as happy as we are. It continues to be a roller coaster of emotions, but now there is the satisfaction of knowing… well, some major details anyway.
I hope my story proves that the truth can never be hidden…for long! And don’t forget to give your adoptive family lots of updates and love – no matter how difficult some of them might be reacting! Every now and then it doesn’t hurt to say to those particular ones; “I hear your concerns, but it’s not about you…it’s about me!!”
Good luck to everyone in his or her own searches.