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Bringing them Home - Lance story


Dad died when I was
about two. My parents were married, but they often lived apart. When I
was a little kid, they gave me to an Uncle and Auntie and the police took
me away from them and put me in a Home. I have never been with my brothers
and sisters at all. They were also put into the same Home. My brothers
and sisters did not know that I existed until a nun said, 'Come and meet
your little brother'. I have some contact with them now. I see them once
every six months. To me they are like acquaintances.

If I was in a stable
Aboriginal family, I wouldn't have the problems I have now - identifying
myself as Koori. For ages I despised my parents; how could they just dump
me in this Home? I hated them for what they were - Koories. I therefore
hated Koories. I hated myself because I was Koori.

St Joseph's Home
- Sebastopol - is where I grew up. It was run by nuns wearing black habits.
The only Aboriginal kids there were just me and another bloke. There were
girls there too. I stayed there for seven or eight years. I bloody hated
it. I remember going to bed crying every night and wetting the bed every
night and every day moping around unhappy. I hated authorities. The nuns
were really strict on you. We had a big dormitory where the boys slept.
I used to go to bed crying. I remember a nun with a torch saying, 'Stop
crying'. I hid my head. She came back and hit me on the head with the
torch. I still have the scar today.

I did not know
I had brothers and sisters ...

I did not know I
had brothers and sisters until I was aged twelve. I thought, 'How come
I did not know about it? Where were they? How come they did not come and
play with me?'. You did not really want to know them and find out Mum
and Dad kept them and threw you away. You'd realise your fears were true.

Lake Condah Mission
is where my parents came from. I suspect they grew up with their parents.
My parents moved around heaps, although my mother doesn't now. We have
a love/hate relationship. She loves me, but I hate her. I have never had
a Birthday Card or Christmas Card. She is just a Mum in that she gave
birth to me.

At age eight I was
adopted out to these white people. They had three children who were a
lot older - in their thirties and forties. I get on with them well. They
send me Christmas Cards and Birthday Cards. It is good having people like
that, but sometimes you know you are not really part of the family. You
feel you should not really be there, eg, 'Come along Lance we're having
a family photo taken'. I have not told them how I feel. They have tried
real hard to make me feel part of the family, but it just won't work.

I got up to Year
11 at School. I got a lot of flak, 'How come your parents are white?'.
On Father and Son Day, 'Is he the Postman or what?'. It was pretty awkward.
It was always awkward. I was always a shy kid, especially among my Father's
friends. 'Here is my son'. They would look at you. That look. 'You're
still together?'. I remember waiting for my Mother at her work, which
was a bakery. A bloke asked me, 'Where is your Mum'? He searched for an
Aboriginal lady. I wished God would make me white and these people's son
instead of an adopted son.

I still call them
Mum and Dad. But when I go to my real Mum, I find it real hard to call
her my 'Mum' because she has just been another lady - OK a special lady.
Mum's Mum [ie adoptive mother] because she was there when I took my first
push bike ride and went on my first date.

After Year 11, I
got a couple of jobs. I got into heaps of trouble with the Police - drugs
and alcohol. I could get my hands on it and escape and release my frustration.
I saw Police ... their fault as well as with me being taken away from
my family. Slowly that decreased because a couple of cops came to my place,
just to see how I was doing and just to talk to me. You can see the effects
of stuff, such as alcohol, so I don't drink anyway. Alcohol took me away
from my parents, who are chronic alcoholics. Mum is and Dad was. It took
my brother [car accident at 18 years, high blood alcohol reading].

Three years ago I
started taking interest in Koori stuff. I decided at least to learn the
culture. I did not find the stereotype. I found that we understood what
we were and that we were on a wave-length. I made a lot of friends and
I am yet to make more. It becomes very frustrating. I am asked about a
Koori word and I don't know. You feel you should know and are ashamed
for yourself. I feel Koori, but not a real Koori in the ways of my people.

It is hard to say
whether I was better off being taken away because the alternative never
happened. I think the people I went with were better off economically
and my education was probably better than what it would have been otherwise.
I might have ended up in jail. I may not have had two meals or none and
fewer nice clothes and been less well behaved.

If someone tried
to remove my kids - over my dead body. I'd pack them up and move them
away. Not the shit I've been through - no.

Confidential submission
154, Victoria: removed 1974.
Lance's story appears on page 461 of
Bringing them home.

Last updated 2 December 2001.