Hello from a rather wet Sunshine Coast. It has been quite a month with prolific rainfall that has resulted in such abundant growth that some areas of Buderim are now looking rather like the rainforest of its origin. Gardeners on the coast have a massive workload ahead of them - pruning, slashing and mowing. Such is this part of Australia.
This past month has been exciting, challenging, busy and above all very emotional as I have been taking my presentation around the coast to libraries and family history groups. Sessions have been full and it is heartening to see so many people who are keen to tell their stories and research their history. Even better are the emails I have received from those who have been inspired to begin writing their own stories after coming to one of my sessions. I have heard so many stories that are worth telling and handing down to family but one in particular moved me to write this piece on adoption.
I know I was one of the lucky ones when it came to adoption. It happened during war time and was privately arranged, with my birth parents and my adoptive parents already knowing each other. As soon as I was told I was adopted, I was also told the reason why and who my natural parents were. As I said, I was one of the lucky ones. Many others never knew their origin. Many were never even told they were adopted until much later in life. How shattering this must be I cannot imagine.
Worse still were the many cases of forced adoption, where young mothers of tender years were forced to give up their babies because they were deemed unable to take proper care of them. Some were part of our shameful Aboriginal past - what we now call ‘The Stolen Generation’ – still others were more recent and were the result of decisions made by religious and state institutions. However it came about, there were babies who were never told of their natural parents and mothers who grieved for their lost babies for the rest of their lives.
This is not the platform to begin an in depth discussion on the issue, but suffice to say that thankfully we have become more enlightened and supportive today. In fact the 21st March will be the 5th Anniversary of the day when the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave a formal apology on behalf of the nation to all those affected by forced adoption. It’s rather poignant that the apology should come from a woman who is not a mother herself. See her address here.
Still on adoption, you can imagine how excited I am when I say to you ‘I saw my birth father recently’. He passed away in 1983 and to my regret I never had a chance to meet him. But I did have a video tape taken at my brother’s wedding, which had some footage of my father, taken just a few months before he died. This has lain untouched in the cupboard for some years as digital media took over the world.
Yesterday, thanks to our wonderfully progressive Sunshine Coast Libraries, I had the chance to digitalise and transfer the 36 year old video tape onto a USB stick and for the first time in many years I was able once again to see images of my Dad. To see him moving among the guests and to hear his voice brings him to life far more than just a still photograph ever could. I am in awe of modern technology and I can’t wait to show the family. And I am so pleased that our regional libraries offer so much more than just being a book repository.
It would be remiss of me not to include in this newsletter at least one book that I have read during the month. This time it was another Dan Brown epic – his latest release Origin.
Now whether you are a Dan Brown fan or not, you must admit he is an extraordinary author. If you like a book that entertains and also informs, then he is your man. Once again Robert Langdon is the hero who arrives at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to witness one of his former students unveiling his discovery that is about to challenge the fundamentals of human existence. I must admit that I found this one a trifle heavy on the research – the story is focussed on religion and information technology – and I felt there were places where it was not only slow but bogged down completely. I was anxious for the book to keep moving. But once again, Brown leaves the reader with something to ponder. After finishing this tome though I am looking forward to reading something a little lighter.
That’s all for me for now. With Easter not too far away, I wish you a very blessed time and if you are heading away for holiday, please take care on the roads.