Bid to help the other stolen generation
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Anne-Louise Brown/The Daily
August 10, 2009
Growing Pains: Kerry Saint wants to form a support group to help other adoptees who were abused by their adoptive parents. Photo:Brett Wortman/n23333
They are the forgotten stolen generation.
Children systematically taken from their young, single or widowed mothers between the 1950s and 1970s.
They became wards of the state who were either adopted or put into orphanages.
Kerry Saint was one of these children.
“I was just three weeks old when I was adopted out in 1962. I was brought up in Brisbane by my adoptive parents as one of three adopted children, but none of us were wanted,” Kerry said.
“From the age of five I was forced to work in charcoal pits and was subjected to physical and emotional abuse. The scars will never heal.”
Kerry, who is now 46 and lives at Imbil, still has horrific flashbacks of the abuse she endured and, despite extensive counselling, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.
After years spent working in child welfare, Kerry now has a new goal – to start a support group to help other abused adoptees and lobby the state government to recognise “the other stolen generation”.
“The government needs to recognise how widespread this problem is and the impact it has had on the lives of abused adoptees,” she said.
“There is basic information adopted children need access to in relation to their biological parents, like health records. Legislation needs to be changed to allow more transparency for adopted children to attain information about their biological parents.”
This problem became all too apparent to Kerry after the birth of her son, now 23, who has cerebral palsy.
She was unable to provide doctors with information relating to her family’s health history, because she had no access to the records.
In Queensland birth parents who have signed an adoption consent after June 1991 and people who were adopted after June 1991 can receive identifying information about each other once the adopted person reaches 18 years of age.
Birth parents who signed an adoption consent prior to June 1991 and people who were adopted prior to June 1991 can receive identifying information once the adopted person reaches 18 years of age only if an objection to the disclosure of the information has not been lodged by one of the parties to the adoption.
Identifying information given to adopted people includes their birth parents’ date of birth, their birth parents’ names at the time of adoption, and details of any brothers or sisters who were also adopted.
Identifying information given to a birth parent includes the name of their son or daughter after adoption, and the adoptive parents’ names at the time of adoption.
Kerry grew up believing her biological mother had died at the age of 16 in childbirth. In 1984, however, Kerry learned the truth – that her mother had been a 34 year old widow when Kerry was born, and had been forced to give up her baby.
Kerry now has contact with her biological mother, now in her 80s, but said the relationship is strained because of the guilt her mother feels for giving Kerry up.
“She was made to feel like a piece of rubbish. Giving me up was something she tried to bury for years and having a relationship with me is very hard for her,” Kerry said.
“There are lots of people in a similar situation to me out there and, with people power, I hope the trauma many adopted children went through gets recognised.”
Anyone interested in joining Kerry’s support group can contact her on 5484 5949