Australia at My Door

"It must be understood that the concept of mothers’ exercising a "choice" cannot be taken in isolation or viewed simplistically. It must be examined in tandem with the other parts of a system that was designed to facilitate the adoption process." – Releasing the past: Mothers’ storis of their stolen babies, p 27, Editor: Christine A. Cole

As I left my home yesterday to visit a friend at his place of employment, I noticed a package at my front door. The package was obviously from overseas based on the stamps and packaging material. I wondered if my friend in Austria who is known to send me little gifts now and then had sent me something from her recent trip to Corfu.

I bent to pick up the package and noticed the from address as one in Australia. The packaging label said "books". I knew instantly what it was without opening it.

I carried the package to my car with my heart beating a bit faster. I placed the package on the passenger seat of my red Honda Accord and started the car. I was not sure I wanted to open it. I was headed out for a nice light adventure with a new friend. Did I want adoption aches to invade that day? Did I want to open that package sent from so far away and release tiny demons that could surely send me spiraling into the dark abyss I visit too often?

With the car running, I adjusted the air conditioning, switched the radio to my favorite station and reached for the package. I had to open it. The sender was kind enough to take the time and money to send this to me all the way from Australia.

I ripped off the end of the white bubble envelope and as I did my hands felt not one but two books. I took the smallest one from the envelope. The brown and gold cover bears the title of "Women’s Adoption Stories – Australia – 1960 – 1995". The author is listed as Jan Kashin.

I crack the spine and quickly flip through the small book. On the left side of each page there are paintings by the author. On the right side of the page there are short vignettes that explain the painting.

My book falls open to

"The Birth of David Brundson"

Hornsby Maternity Hospital,

NSW – 1963

Acrylic on Canvas

After 24 hours of labour, the mother was handcuffed to labour ward bed by her right wrist.

The handcuff was shaped like a figure 8, and made of leather and two buckles.

When both buckles were done up, the whole had an "8" shape.

This picture capture the moment when the wrist was secured, just before the nurse took hold of the woman’s hand.

I start to cry. The birth of David Brundson happened in Australia in 1963. I don’t know David or his mother. I do know my friend M who was strapped to her bed in 1984 in southern Illinois so her child could be taken away from her by Kurtz.

I cry for David Brundsons mother and I cry for my friend M. I cry for their sons who were taken from mothers who wanted them. One boy was born in 1963 in Australia and the other twenty years later in the United States.

I flip through more of the book and am reminded of the artwork of Julie Rist. Something in the paintings touches me like Julie’s work has touched me.

Page 30 of the book has a painting of a nun between the legs of a women. The words on the painting say "This’ll teach you, the nun said, "We’ll stitch you up a little tighter. You wont be using this for a while".

My throat constricts, my eyes swell with tears.

I put the books back in their envelopes. I continue on with my day.

Today, I read more, I flip open the second book titled "Releasing the past: Mothers ‘ stories of their stolen babies". The book is signed by the editor Christine A. Cole. She has a written a nice note to me inside the front cover. I smile. I have made so many good friends, so many women that I deeply respect and admire through all of this horror.  Even still, I rather wish I hadn’t. For having not met them might  mean I would have never lost my daughter.

I open the second book and notice more paintings by Jan Kashin. Again, the book opens to "The Birth of David".

I cry again. I cry for us all.

When will it stop?

10 Thoughts.

  1. This book is my next purchase, along with the Fessler book. I’m trying to get as many good books about adoption as possible and share them with friends….it’s my attempt at education for all who sing the praises of adoption (or who have never been exposed to another viewpoint), which for most of us, was never our choice.

  2. This book sounds like one that will awaken people just as Ann Fessler’s did. Hopefully as more and more people wake up to reality, we’ll get closer to the day when it can stop.

  3. We will always have the remembered pain and will never forget. But with you and all your friends, associates and those who put so much effort into educating the public and the younger gals its all happening. Its all taking place and there will never be this kind of power to possess and scare young women today.
    My neice 21 is pregnant and although wants nothing to do with the guy ,she is emphatic that she will have her baby and raise it alone. Although, we have told her we will not help her but we cant wait for this birth. All it takes is support and love and I am proud of her. Its going to be a job for her even at her age. The word adoption never came up.

  4. “My neice 21 is pregnant and although wants nothing to do with the guy ,she is emphatic that she will have her baby and raise it alone. Although, we have told her we will not help her but we cant wait for this birth. All it takes is support and love and I am proud of her. Its going to be a job for her even at her age. The word adoption never came up.”
    Could I ask a question since you brought this up? Are you worried that since you have said you won’t help her that perhaps since you have admitted how tough a job this will be, she might be pushed into adoption after the child is born when things get really tough? I mean, I have helped girls over the internet I do not even know, young mothers struggling, with gift cards and things so that they will not be overwhelmed and pushed into something.
    One of the reasons I lost my child to adoption was fear. Fear that I had no one to help me.
    Just a thought…
    Have a wonderful day!

  5. My 18, soon to be 19 yo daughter is pregnant. Adoption is something that was never considered by her, probably because of my loss. I am more proud of her now, than ever before. It is a hard road that she will have in front of her, but with love and support she will make it and her beautiful baby will be taken care of and loved!
    Joyce, you stated that you have told your niece that you won’t help her, yet you love her and are proud of her. Support her however you can, I beg of you! Let her know that you do love her and that this child she carries will be loved!
    We don’t have a lot of money and times are going to be tight (tighter) but with love and support my daughter…and your niece…will be just fine!

  6. Joyce said: “Although, we have told her we will not help her but we cant wait for this birth. All it takes is support and love and I am proud of her. ”
    Help doesn’t always mean money. Support can come in the way to inviting her to dinner, taking the baby to the park, making sure she has a fall-back plan for daycare/sitter, etc.
    We all need to remember to offer the small things that make motherhood a little easier.

  7. I cry for all mothers who have had this type of delivery.
    My hands were not bound but the nurses whisked my baby away. On whose orders I am not sure? Surely not mine, or the Dr’s or my mom’s had to wrecker’ orders. The power they had and our parents went along with this its insane, cruel and inhumane. Even animals get to spend 6 weeks with young. Our babies weren’t worth that time, and were thrown into foster care to bond with a stranger if at all so they could be sent on the next stranger who was the person that was going to adopt. Just insane and terribly oppressive to women and babies.
    Abuse comes in many forms, whether it is with hands bound, faces covered or a
    baby taken upon birth unable to even be seen by his mother.
    My rights were taken because they knew they could get away with it in the sixtes.
    This was in my own private hospital paid by my stepdad insurance.

  8. The most important thing here is to offer suppport. Really, money is not the biggest issue..Kristy, even tho we were shocked to say the least when she told us she was preg. So young and drug issues! Dont know why she got rid of “him” she just said I dont want him around. We are having a baby shower the 2nd of Aug. Her mom is very concerned that if this is reality long term to her! The bf got teed off and said fine, no support. She says I dont want it. As we all know, one day these kids come looking for their families. I believe if its possible it would be nice to have him involved. Of course, its not for me to say it out loud.

  9. wow…the picture takes me back to the moment when my lovely doctor explained away my insanely large cesarean incision by telling me that maybe next time I would think twice about having premarital sex at my age…nice huh?
    he’s rotting in hell I hope.

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