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Bringing them Home - Karen story


I am a part Aboriginal
woman, who was adopted out at birth. I was adopted by a white Australian
family and came to live in New Zealand at the age of 6 months. I grew
up not knowing about my natural Mother and Father. The only information
my adoptive parents had about my birth, was the surname of my birth Mother.

I guess I had quite
a good relationship with my adoptive Mum, Dad and sisters. Though my adopted
Mother said I kept to myself a lot, while I was growing up. As I got older
I noticed my skin colouring was different to that of my family. My Mother
told me I was adopted from Australia and part Aboriginal. I felt quite
lonely especially as I approached my teens. I got teased often about being
Aboriginal and became very withdrawn and mixed up, I really did not know
where I belonged.

As a result of this
I started having psychiatric problems. I seem to cope and muddle along.

I eventually got
married to a New Zealander, we have two boys, who are now teenagers. One
of our boys is dark like myself, and was interested in his heritage. I
was unable to tell him anything, as I didn't know about it myself.

My husband, boys
and myself had the opportunity to go to Melbourne about 7 years ago on
a working holiday for 10 weeks. While in Melbourne I went to the Aboriginal
Health Centre and spoke to a social worker, as I had a copy of my birth
certificate with my birth Mother's name on it. The social worker recognized
my Mother's surname 'Graham', and got in touch with my aunty, who gave
me my Mother's phone number.

I got in touch with
my birth Mother and made arrangements to meet her. I have a half brother
and sister. My birth Mother and Father never married, though my Father
knew my Mother was pregnant with me. My Mother did not know where my Father
was, as they parted before I was born. My sister decided to call a local
Melbourne paper and put our story in the paper on how I had found them
after 29 years.

My Father who was
in Melbourne at the time, saw the article and a photo of my Mother and
myself in the paper. He recognized my Mother and got in touch with her.
My Mother and I had been corresponding, after we returned to New Zealand.
For her own reasons, she would not give my Father my address, so my Father
went through the social service agency and got in touch with me two and
a half years ago. I have met my birth Father, as I had a family wedding
in Melbourne shortly after he made contact with me, so I made arrangements
to meet him.

We kept in contact
with one another, but I feel we will never be able to make up for lost
time, as my birth parents live in Australia and myself in New Zealand.

I still feel confused
about where I belong, it has been very emotional and the result of this
caused me to have a complete nervous breakdown. I am on medication daily
and am having to see a counsellor to help me come to terms and accept
the situation, where I am at right now and to sort out some confused feelings.
My adoptive family really don't want to know too much about my birth family,
which also makes it hard.

I feel that I should
be entitled to some financial compensation for travel purposes, to enable
us to do this.

Confidential submission
823, New Zealand.
Karen's story appears on page 244 of Bringing
them home

Last updated 2 December 2001.