During the 1990s when I was lobbying against the injustices of society, church and state for the damage, cruelty and gross abuse done within/under the Adoption Act, and in many cases without bothering to abide by the Act. Adoption took on a life of its own, the Adoption Act 1955 was interpreted by social workers and institutions to suit their own agendas. Young women were incarcerated and their children were removed (often) against their wishes and given to strangers/people chosen as more entitled by both staff of the institution and employees of the state, that action has been titled ‘forced adoption.’ The adoption act states that there is a ten day time frame to change one’s mind? I certainly did not know that and as we (mothers) were required (forced) to remain at the ‘home’ for that period, so the ten days (if indeed it was observed) passed! Also I cannot find the part in the Act that requires one to swear on the bible never to try and find your baby, which I was required to do.
I had (while in St Mary’s) negotiated with the Matron in order to keep my baby in exchange for living and helping at the ‘home.’ She betrayed me in a very cruel way. But still I called/phoned her, (Rhoda Gallagher the matron) many times (when back in Whakatane, after my child’s birth) from my parent’s home, pleading with her to get my child back for me. My appeals were met with repudiation, the deed had been done.
1990s I was driving to work one morning, listening to the National Radio when I heard an interview with a person who had attended an Anglican synod at Hamilton. The person being interviewed spoke about the Anglican decision to accept Homosexuals.
Big of them I thought, but what about the terrible punishment doled out to me and other young women for daring to have ANY sexuality.
I contacted St Marys (the home for unwed mothers that I was put in January 1964). I spoke with and subsequently met David Jackson who was part of the ‘new’ Granger Grove’ as St Marys was no longer in existence. He was justly proud of the different philosophy of the Anglican Trust for Women and Children, instead of locking young women up and taking their children this new philosophy taught the women childcare and provided a place to stay.
But then of course the DPB had arrived.
David visited, we were living at 9 Potter Ave Northcote in those days. He wrote to Bruce Gilberd (then Bishop of Auckland) and suggested an apology may appease me (I have a copy of that letter). In time I received a verbal apology from Bruce. I was not satisfied with the verbal apology and requested a written acknowledgment and apology which was duly carried out (it was published in the Anglican newsletter). Bruce stated in that article that in order to go ahead the church needed to acknowledge its past.
I naively believed him; I believed the anglican church would keep that promise. I realise now, that those words that Bruce carefully spoke and wrote were merely to keep an angry woman quiet.
By this time I joined M.O.A. (Movement out of Adoption) set up by Lawyer, Robert Ludbrook. M.O.A aimed to educate and suggest other ways to care for a child that is not one’s own so that the archaic Adoption Act 1955 need not be used. We vehemently believed then and I still do, that the child’s care should be the priority in any legislation. The adoption Act is slanted in favour of the adult wanting a child.
I wrote about my experience in St Marys and sent that manuscript to Renee Taylor, I also put other women in touch with Renee. She, (Renee) used the stories as a base for her book titled ‘Does This Make Sense to You.’ Later made into a film ‘A Piece of my Heart.’ I have the original manuscript that I sent to Renee.
2013. Forty nine years after I lost my child to adoption I attended her wedding and was put in the position of listening to the two women officiating (Anglican clergy). But they didn’t simply marry my daughter to the man she loves…they spent an extraordinary amount of time glorifying the woman who took my child (knowing I desperately wanted to keep her) they simpered, waxed lyrical and told the story how ‘my daughters ‘mother’ had donated the land and helped raise money so that the dear little church could be built. They talked about her lifelong service to the anglican diocese, they went on for some time in this manner before actually getting on with the marriage service. Bruce Gilberd attended the wedding so he heard it all.
I realised then, very clearly, that not only did they celebrate the lie they enjoyed the lip-smacking fantasy AND no-one had bothered to tell them the truth. They do not know the history of the organisation they belong to. They did not know or in all probability did not care that I surrendered my child while under unjustifiable coercion in an Anglican institution, with no one on my side to provide advocacy or support.
I was very upset, uncontrollably upset; listening to those women triggered a reaction that I was unprepared for (no I did not let my girl know). I felt abused, belittled, invalidated and incredibly angry again. Depression set in once again. Bruce thought it would be good if I forgave everyone…I suggest that if the cause of my grief does not mean or believe in their own apology, then why I would consider forgiveness. He suggested that I forgive myself…for what Bruce? For not being stronger in the face of baby stealers?
July 2014 A few weeks ago, I requested my medical (not adoption) file from the ATWC, I was left in a torn mess after my daughter’s birth and also given medication to stop lactation. I want to know what that medication was as there are questions about those medications. And I want to know if anything medically was ever written down. (The synthetic oestrogen diethylstilboestrol, known by the acronym ‘DES’ or as stilboestrol, was administered to single mothers without informed consent in hospitals where unmarried women gave birth).
I was told by Kate at the ATWC that those records no longer exist because there was a fire; I also made my request at the Anglican Archives. Mary (the archivist) says that the papers cannot be found and she says they were destroyed when a hot water tank burst and the room where the files were kept was flooded.
While I was looking at the ATWC web site (looking for contact numbers) I read the ‘history’ written by Diane Keradine 2011 St Marys Home for unwed mothers does not get a mention? It does not exist!
So a history that causes unease, discomfort is made to disappear? What happened to the worthy, ‘we must acknowledge and remember the past,’ the past that wreaked havoc, caused grief, killed and generally stuffed up so many lives.
I consider I have been a controlled gentle victim, all the time grappling with the ongoing grief and depression. It never occurred to me to take legal action. But history, good or bad must not be forgotten, we as humans are supposed to learn from our past.
My Husband has stood by me, my sturdiest support. My children from my marriage have coped, but sometimes not coped with a mother who never did get over losing her live, beautiful child, because the matron of an institution had already decided who she was giving her away to. I say live because my child did not die at birth, she was taken by an obsessed kidnapper who then ‘gave her’ to a stranger.
I want to take action against the Anglican Church because they have treated me as inconsequential and have removed the history of a hateful place; which for six months was my reality, and for a lifetime my nightmare. Do they believe by erasing it from their history that it will go away? That the evil will fade?
It was as if I (we) were simply categorised as robotic atoms without consciousness or soul, who needed to be punished. We were gathered together in a religious institution to pop out babies for humans who were somehow endowed with love and maternal feelings that we, as the baby machines did not possess.
The Powers of the Anglican organisation allowed that place to be, why did they choose to ignore their duty of care?
Don’t tell me ‘it’s just what they did in those days.’ Don’t invalidate my grief or the lives that my family have lived by living with a woman whose grief and anger never left her.
It is a heartache that is constantly triggered.
Maggie Wilkinson 7th July 2014
November 3rd 2015…Today I received a response from the Anglicans, ‘The Church acknowledges with deep regret the ongoing grief that Mrs
Wilkinson feels as a result of her experience and the adoption of her child. However, both the Trust and the Diocese remain willing to provide or fund grief counselling for Mrs
Wilkinson. If Mrs Wilkinson wishes to explore this option, please do let me know’
The church will not compensate. But will pay for counselling? The only action that would compensate would be to give me my baby back. Where is the ‘counsellor that can overturn a crime in a manner that I would/could accept?
They, the church raped my soul and abducted my child and 51 years later will front up with counselling?
I am insulted but sadly not surprised; this organisation that they fondly call a Christian church evolves from a couple of thousand years of elitism, power and control. A woman’s grief (which incidentally, grows with the years) it seems is not too important as the people who “believe,” grow their careers in the hope of entering a “heaven.”
The shattered lives, shattered by their judgemental, sanctimonious, cruel actions are not even a memory as they pat themselves on the back, self-congratulatory and smug.
I do not have the luxury of a statute of limitations on my grief and memories, my broken heart remains and will do so until my death.
This is the love of Jesus?
The Anglican organisation treated me and other young women as inconsequential, of no value, in 1964. Their duty of care did not include the young women whose wombs they were stealing from, The obsession of the woman who represented the Anglican organisation was firmly focused on giving babies to the chosen ones.
I feel as gutted and as inconsequential today as I did then. I do not believe the words in the response, I do not trust the trust, they have never given me any reason to.
My family have struggled to cope with the aftermath of my on going grief, they have always been the ‘collateral’ damage. The cruelty and damage that St Marys culture inflicted did not stop with the young woman, it spilt over and caused harm to so many others. These people (the church), don’t seem to understand the damage that adoption does. I see the words in the response as cynical and flippant.
I needed sanctuary, not punishment, I needed to keep my child, my child needed her Mother.
My heart is sick
My child was taken hidden from me from time of birth …from that time to the time that the adoption kicked in I did not give consent for this. May I take criminal action for kidnapping/abduction against the Anglican Church?
9th Nov 2015
This morning I contacted Harley North, Community Constable Waihi.
I have requested that he investigate the possibility of taking criminal action against the church for kidnap/abduction…for the crime of taking my child from birth (from the delivery room) and hiding her from me.
I signed (under duress and with everyone knowing I did not want to give my child away) the adoption papers but I DID NOT give my consent for her to be abducted from me from birth.
Friday 11th Dec 2015
Simon Everson Detective NZ Police, arrived to explain that my charge against the Anglican Church for abduction and kidnap will not proceed because I can only charge an individual, not an organisation. I suggest that I could charge the Queen, as she is still alive and is the Head of the Anglican Church