My hospital stole my baby
BY TRACEY FINDLAY/ NEWSLOCAL NEWS
April 16, 2010
Jan Kashin wants a detailed apology from Hornsby Hospital. Picture: NICK KUHN
A FORMER patient of Hornsby Hospital is calling for an apology for the ``terror’’ she experienced as her newborn baby was stolen from her as she gave birth in the 1960s.
Jan Kashin said she was strapped to a bed while giving birth and her newborn son was adopted out against her wishes, during a period now being referred to as ``Australia’s second stolen generation’’ by the victims.
``It was terrifying, I have never got over it,’’ she told the Hornsby Advocate.
Mrs Kashin was a patient at the hospital in 1963 after she was sent down to Sydney from Queensland by her father, who disapproved that she was pregnant and unmarried.
After staff suspected she may ``do a runner”, they took extraordinary measures to ensure the 21-year-old couldn’t leave the hospital with her baby, she said.
She recalled how a young nurse used a leather strap with buckles to ``handcuff’’ her to the bed while she was in labour. She feared she was going to die and was so traumatised that she fainted.
``I thought it was curtains for me, I’m finished. I came to as the nurse was unbuckling the shackle; she put it back in her pocket,’’ Mrs Kashin said.
The baby was born two months premature just three weeks before his parents were married.
Mrs Kashin said she told staff they were getting married but they wouldn’t listen and prevented her from seeing her son.
``I was kept away from him and felt very strongly that they really didn’t care about him or me,’’ she said.
``Even though I had turned 21 years of age nobody treated me as an adult, or paid any attention to what I was saying.
``I was a nobody from Queensland so could be treated with contempt. I was treated worse than the other girls because I had the temerity to say I was getting married and my baby was not to be adopted that I was taking him with me.’’
For the past 30 years Mrs Kashin has been fighting for an apology for herself and thousands of other women across Australia who were victims of ``forced adoptions’’ during the ‘60s, ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Their plight has been dubbed ``Australia’s secret stolen generation’’ by the victims and campaigners supporting them.
Last June Hornsby Hospital issued a statement that it ``does not condone the practice of coerced adoption and would unhesitatingly apologise to any woman who may have experienced that in years past’’.
Hospital management have also apologised to Mrs Kashin in correspondence with her.
But she said the apology did not go far enough and it skirted around the issue.
``I’m waiting for Hornsby Hospital to come up with an apology that covers what happened to me, I want a specific apology for my son and myself,’’ she said.
``I’m now 68 and I want it on record that this hospital . . . shackled me to the side of the bed while I was giving birth and that a young student nurse did the shackling.’’
Hornsby Hospital has referred her to the Health Care Complaints Commission.
Mrs Kashin, who returned to Queensland after the birth, found her son many years later but it wasn’t until he was 33 that he was ready to meet her.
He lives in Sydney and is married with a young daughter.
She described her relationship with him as ``very good’’.
``When you first meet the child who has been taken from you, you go back into a state of rage again, it’s very hard to calm yourself down,’’ she said.
``I suppose it’s given me a great deal of determination, to have empathy for all of the women who found themselves in that position.’’