1964, at 17 years of age, I was one of the "Crown Street girls."
One of the many who ended up at the Crown Street Women's Hospital
in Sydney, seeking help when they were unmarried, unsupported and
pregnant. I didn't realise at the time that I wouldn't be helped to
keep my baby, but would be coerced to sign her away to adoption.
the moment I arrived at the social worker's office I encountered nothing
but negatives about my ability to keep my yet-to-be born baby. I was
told that I was being selfish to consider bringing up a child on my
own and depriving her of having two parents, and foolish to think
I could cope at all, either financially or emotionally. I was never
told that in fact, there was a pension available at the time for single
moms, and never encouraged or assisted in any way to help keep
I still hoped my boyfriend would arrive and "rescue" us, I never seriously
considered that I would lose my child. However, by the time my baby
was about to be born, I still hadn't heard from him.
don't remember much of the ambulance journey, nor of being admitted
at the hospital. I do remember bitterly, how I was treated after
that. It was as if I had lost my identity as a human being.
Everyone I encountered was hostile, as if to punish me for my "sinful"
unmarried state. I was hastily stripped and shaved and put me into
a hospital gown and then left alone with my contractions, which by
this time were rolling in relentlessly. Finally a doctor appeared
and my feet were put into stirrups. Nobody spoke to me.
It was as if I didn't really exist. A gas mask was shoved on my face
at intervals, and they kept yelling at me to push.
wave of ecstatic emotion swept over me, as I struggled to lift my
head so I could see my baby being born. Swiftly, a pillow
was held in front of my face, Iheard a little cry and then nothing.
They had taken my baby away. I couldn't understand it, and asked
why I was not allowed to hold my baby. I was told the baby was up
for adoption. But I hadn't signed anything!
thought they had removed my baby because it was hideously deformed.
I didn't know it was Crown Street policy not to allow young mothers
to see their babies in case they bonded with them and thus made it
more difficult for social workers to get them to sign adoption papers.
wasn't until a few years ago when the Freedom of Information Act came
along and I accessed my social and medical records, that I found out
I'd been heavily drugged. No wonder I had such gaps in my memory!
my daughter and I reunited in 1990, she was hurt that I didn't even
know the correct day or year of her birth. It shocked me too, until
I found out what had been done to me. My daughter cut contact with
me after just over a year. Hers wasn't the fairy tale adoption
I had been promised, and she had a lot of anger and pain about being
adopted and many abandonment issues.
think its important to make the facts about past adoption practices
public.The secrets and lies need to be addressed. There are thousands
of people who were adopted who think their mothers just abandoned
and forgot them. There are many mothers who lost children who never
had any more and are still hurting and grieving and many who have
never told their story to anyone and suffer alone.
© Lina Eve. April 23, 2001.
was told that if I loved my child I would surrender her to adoption.
I was told that there was a lovely couple who could give her so
much that I never could, and that it was selfish of me to even imagine
I could keep her. I was made to feel worthless as a person and a
mother, and having no options, I signed the adoption papers. ...
The daughter I lost to adoption has had everything that money
can buy, but she was never happy and her adoption issues have scarred
her deeply. She tells me that if I really loved her I would never
have given her up for adoption, and she doesnt believe there
were no other options. It's a no-win situation." - Lina