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Bringing them Home - Tony story


When I was three
months old [in 1965] the welfare department sent the police to my grandparents'
house. They came armed with a warrant to have me removed. Despite any
opposition my fate had been decided. I was taken away. My family were
left with the guilt of being accused of child neglect.

In 1967 I was adopted
into a white family. They had two sons of their own. It is documented
that, from an early age, my adoption mother had feelings of rejection
towards me. She wanted a white son. She was taking offence to me as I
grew up and my skin got darker. I can remember her always making fun of
me. She had a favourite song that she always sung to me. It was that old
country song called, 'the biggest disappointment in the family is you'.
They adopted another son and my new brother was very fair, with blue eyes
and blonde hair.

As I grew up, more
problems arose. I began to notice that I was getting darker. My adoption
father was often sticking up for me when my adoption brothers would come
home and tease me about my colour. They were learning words like, boong,
coon, abo ...

I'd ask her why
I was dark.

I'd ask her why I
was dark. She would tell me it was because I kept playing with aboriginal
kids at school. My adoption mother would make me feel guilty when I got
into trouble for something. She would confirm her statement by saying
things like, '.. if you keep playing with aborigines, you'll end up turning
into one'. I was beginning to believe that was why I was getting darker.
I started to hate what I was turning into. I started to hate my own people.

In 1978 I went to
high school. I was to be separated again. This time it was from my adoption
brothers. They were sent to one high school and I was sent to another.
When I wanted to know why, my adoption mother told me that she didn't
want me to embarrass her sons.

Towards the end of
1978, I was running away from home and truanting from school. I was sick
of my adoption family. I hated my adoption mother. I wanted them to send
me back to the orphanage. I wanted my real mother. I didn't belong where
I was. I just wanted to go back to where I believed my mother would come
and get me one day. I committed my first offence at 11. I was trying to
make my adoption family hate me so they'd send me back. I ended up back
at the orphanage. When the welfare officer questioned me about my behaviour,
I told him that I wanted to have my real family. He kept telling me that
it was impossible. I didn't believe him and persisted in asking for many
years to follow.

After a few months
at the orphanage I was getting blamed for things that I wasn't doing.
On one occasion I was blamed for starting a fire in the building. I never
did it. They wanted to foster me with white families. I ran away. I was
sick of getting into trouble and I was scared about being fostered. I
just wanted my real family. I couldn't understand why they wouldn't take
me home.

[After some months
on the streets in Brisbane, at the age of 13 Tony was taken into care
as uncontrollable.]

While at Wilson [youth
centre] I felt like I was in a prison. In my mind, I hadn't done anything
wrong to be sent there. I spent months asking what I'd done wrong. They
told me that I was uncontrollable. I used to cry a lot. I kept asking
the social workers to find my real mother. It was the same old story.

I ran away a few
times. When I escaped I used to go to a family I'd met. They had aboriginal
foster kids. I used to like going there. I felt that I had something in
common with these kids. Everyone there liked me. The parents there treated
me as if I was one of their own kids. I ended up getting caught and sent
back to Wilson. I was depressed again. The family who I'd stayed with
made several attempts at fostering me. The welfare department blocked
all attempts. I didn't know how to feel. All this time, the welfare couldn't
wait to put me into a home. Then when I found a family that I wanted to
stay with on my own, they wouldn't allow it. It was like nobody cared
what I wanted. It was as if I had no say in anything. It was being arranged
for me to be adopted again by another family. When I became aware of this,
I did what I was beginning to do best, run away. This made matters worse.
People were beginning to give up on me. I was finally sent to Boys Town
[aged nearly 14].

I ran away from Boys
Town several times. On one occasion that I ran away, I caught a train
back up to Townsville. One of the passengers - a woman travelling with
her boyfriend - took care of me. We got on real good. She had brown skin
just like me. This woman kept asking me questions about who I was and
where I came from. I was a runaway, so I was restricted to how much I
could say, in fear of being caught. I was in love with this woman. I remember
falling asleep with my head on her lap. We talked each other to sleep.

We talked each
other to sleep.

The following day
we arrived at Townsville station. She asked me if I had anywhere to stay.
I told her no. Her and her boyfriend invited me to stay with them. I stayed
only two days with them. She washed my clothes and made sure that I had
a good feed. On the second day she went out with her boyfriend. I got
jealous of her boyfriend and ran away when they left.

Until the age of
28 I wasn't aware just how close I was to finding my mother.

Later the next day
I was arrested by the Townsville police. [Tony was returned to Boys Town
where he stayed until he turned 15. He then found employment.]

It was a difficult
time in my life. It was then that I was mature enough to realise the full
ramifications of what everything was building up to. I started to convince
myself that I was destined to spend the rest of my life alone. I often
saw old people in the street, who were obviously homeless, and knew that
that was how I was going to end up. I used to get really depressed about
that. Those thoughts and feelings stayed with me for a very long time.

I was never sent
back to my family. [When Tony was aged 17 his welfare officer recommended
reintroduction to his birth family. The recommendation was ignored.] Nobody
cared about the pain that I was feeling. So I tried my best to hide from
it. Antisocial behaviour seemed the only way that I could deal with my
problems for years to follow. I've been a loner since then.

[At 16 Tony stole
a car from the family with whom he was staying and left the State. At
18 he committed a burglary and spent 10 months in prison.]

When I got out I
started making contact with my adoption family by phone. It was becoming
positive. My adoption mother refused me permission to go home to them
when I got my holidays from work. She claimed that, '... dad doesn't think
it's a good idea'. That hurt me a lot. A year later I tried to contact
them again. This time my adoption father answered the phone. I rang up
to wish my adoption mother a happy birthday. When I asked, ' mum
there?', I was told that she had died two months earlier. It devastated
me. While I was on the phone, I made it clear to my adoption father that
I loved him. I felt terrible because I never got to say it to my adoption
mother. I'd spent the previous two years trying to make amends.

My life fell apart
once again. I became a drug addict and started to abuse alcohol and everyone
around me.

[Tony was soon convicted
of robbery with wounding in company. He is serving a 14 year sentence.
Link-Up (Qld) located his family in 1993. His mother had died 9 years
earlier. She had been the woman on the train.]

Confidential submission
82, Queensland.
Tony's story appears on page 426 of Bringing them

Last updated 2 December 2001.