It’s National Adoption Week in Australia and with many overdue parliamentary apologies to come for the Forced Adoptions in Australia it is a interesting time for a whole other group of adoptees, never before given a voice during this time.
For once, it’s not just about “saving little girl’s from China” or having a “Rainbow Family” a La Jolie, and don’t get me wrong, I have seen many of those stories turn out with happy endings and that is not my business…..MY business is addressing the shameful organized kidnapping of children from the 1950’s to the 1970’s and finally facing the damage done to the mothers and children who were victims of this organized crime, including myself.
I have been fighting for years and years to be heard over this issue. Ten years ago, after shooting the TV series Mum’s the Word on SBSTV I had a meeting with their head of programming. I shared my adoption story, talking about a whole new generation of stolen children, explaining that it hadn’t been restricted to the aboriginal culture and that there were many many stories to be told. I desperately wanted to make a documentary on this subject and shine a light on the hundreds and thousands of people affected by a government controlled “single mother cull”. I call it that because lives were most certainly destroyed if not severely permanently damaged by a mandate created and carried out by government and public officials.
I poured my heart out to this woman, sharing the struggle to find my identity, my search for and subsequent loss of my mother and how so many lives had been broken because of this practice of taking children without their mother’s full consent. As a documentarian (albeit a new one having just documented my weight loss) I wanted to start digging into who exactly was responsible for this practice and how it had managed to be carried out so extensively and for so many years. Just like Hitler was not the only person involved in the atrocities he committed there is sure to be many generals involved in this morally mandated “White Out” of single mothers and the babies they gave birth to.
I’ll never forget the moment I met my mother. We poured our broken hearts out to each other in a waterfall of words, too much time passed and not enough time to catch up (literally in my case) and remember so clearly sitting opposite a woman I had loved and hated my whole life who insisted over and over again that she had not let me go willingly, that she had been told she had no rights, that she had woken up and I was gone, told I had already been taken (when I hadn’t) and how she searched for me fruitlessly and had been blocked at every turn and told to just move on.
To be honest, at the time, I didn’t believe her. Why would I? There was no evidence to prove otherwise….. and just like in the history books I had studied at school, I also believed Captain Cook “settled” Australia and “rescued” the “savage” and “Native” aborigines and gave them a “better” “more civilized” life….it took some time to realize it was ALL big fat white man LIES.
But at the time, I drank the Kool-Aid and my reunion with my mother was far from the fantasy I had imagined, wished and prayed for my entire lonely, longing, absent life. I had felt lost, alone and “nobody”. My favorite song, in hindsight, very sadly, was Sally Boyden’s “Nobody’s Child” and in my fantasy world I would believe she was my long lost sister and she was singing about me and maybe, just maybe I belonged somewhere because I certainly didn’t fit into the violent, unloving, abusive family I had been palmed off to.
I pushed my mother away, unable to process all that went with this long overdue “relationship”, neither of us were strong enough to support each other, there was certainly no support offered through official channels, they were too busy feeling magnanimous at allowing us to even get a non legal birth certificate naming who gave birth to us and my hope of ever having a mother be there for me and my future family was gone forever in her very sad and lonely death, one week after I told her I needed space and one short year after meeting her. It was all too much. I get it. I feel her pain. I choose to live with it but on the dark days I can see how easy it would be to want it to disappear forever. And while I may be “Nobody’s Child” I am thankfully “Somebody’s Parent” and my darling son Kai definitely keeps me alive in my struggle to find my own peace in knowing who I am and having that OFFICIALLY recognized.
It is time for an apology. It is time for a Royal Commission to find out just who did what and how, it is time to out the people who knowingly drugged our mothers and made them sign away their BIRTH rights, robbing us of what should be an unalienable right to KNOW who we are. It is time for us to have a right to a legal TRUTHFUL document that acknowledges our birthrights and living heritage we can pass onto our own generations. It is time to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth and NOTHING but the truth so help me God.
Oh and what happened at the meeting with SBS to make the documentary? Well after an hour of pouring my heart out, the woman moved in a little closer to me, tilted her head and said, “Tell me Ajay, how do you get your teeth so white?”
I replied, “Colgate Whitening toothpaste.” I then got up from the table and walked away without another word. I screamed and cried the whole way home angry at the world for just not caring enough about the other stolen generation. Time has proven over and over again that there are some dirty little secrets you just can’t wash away; no matter how hard you try.
#True Story…..I swear on my mother’s grave!