Speaking to the Submission March 15 2017 Maggie Wilkinson
Social Services Select Committee
Good morning, Kia ora …I would like to introduce my family, my support. My daughters, Vivienne and Rebecca, my granddaughter Pippa and my niece Annah…I am humbled by the love and support of all my family and friends (and those who have stood beside me but are unable to be here today). Also I speak for the Women who have died without having their sorrow validated. Also the Women who were unable to live with the pain and grief of losing their child to adoption, and consequently took their own lives
After having read the complete submission, the Committee will be very aware that it contains the experiences of other women.
I am Maggie Wilkinson and I am going to start with telling you from my heart, what I feel about what happened to me and my child. Today I am going to speak to you the words that relate to my personal experience, mine alone.
That is not to say the crime of taking a child from its Mother was a single event, it was a nationwide, State sanctioned baby scoop.
Although an apology/acknowledgment has been the ongoing request, I have deep concerns about the apology; an apology requested is not an apology. It seems that an apology can be easily forgotten, it seems an apology can disappear into the ozone as the “Australian apology” has. The reasons for this apology have been put aside as policies promoting the taking of children once again surface.
I request an inquiry into the crime of abduction of my child during 1964 by the Anglican Church of NZ, the wrongful use of adoption legislation under the pretence of “Christianity.” And the lack of duty of care by the Anglican institution of St Marys Home for Unwed Mothers, Otahuhu. (the Anglican Trust for Women and Children).
The adopters and their Lawyers are the only ones connected to the words and practice of adoption. The Mother is erased and child becomes the victim of the legalised fiction (the absurdity) of that ‘Act.’ Eg. s16(2)(a) Adoption Act ” The adopted child shall be deemed to become the child of the adoptive parent, and the adoptive parent shall be deemed to be the parent of the child, as if the child had been born to that parent in lawful wedlock.”
I am telling you this legality, word for word because this took me years to get my head around it, it was never explained…it continues to weigh heavily on me.
The Adoption Act 1955 was not framed to support or protect myself or my child. The ‘Act’ condoned and normalised ‘consent’ under duress.
It was State sanctioned abduction. Enacted by social workers, Lawyers, hospital staff, General Practitioners, Churches and Institutions set up to ‘relieve’ me of my child. Then in a flawed act of supreme judgemental, smiling, sentimentality the abductors handed my Child to those they deemed more entitled to parent. Ignoring the reality of my child’s family/whanau, her/our history and biological heritage.
I have always felt wounded and choked that the language of adoption evolved to sanctify and portray the act as rescue…my child rescued from me, the sinner, the deviant and given to the righteous. A language both deceptive and cruel, contrived to sanction and revere the adopters and demonise the Mother, while at the same time paying passing tribute to me ‘the sacrificial gift.’ As if that would suffice as compensation at the same time that the door is slammed shut on me.
My hand on the bible promising never to try and find my precious child. No support, no advocacy, my womb emptied of the ‘product’ the State sanctified abduction deemed successful. I was forgotten, no longer officially existing.
I was left bleeding, physically and mentally, my Motherhood ignored like a cow after her calf has been taken, in the name of a desired commodity and the marketing of that product. Except my milk had been stopped with a pharmaceutical invention (Stilbestrol)?
The manufactured language of adoption speaks of an unloved, unwanted child needing a married couple to be properly cherished. This language was devised to promote the adoption/abduction industry. The reality and acknowledgement of the mind-numbing loss and grief of the Mother who has lost her beloved child would disable the fantasy.
I use ‘past tense’ but in reality this abuse still happens. When a market for a commodity is driven by those who “want” the ‘market’ ensures the commodity is available.
I wish to state I do not want to be labelled as “birthmother” I am NOT an erased, obliterated birth mother…I am the woman that gave birth and therefore I am the MOTHER. No man-made false legality will alter that reality.
Losing my daughter to abduction impacted on all my family, on our children who had not been born when the abduction occurred. It impacted on the man I married, because I never “got over it.” The depression I suffered impacted on them all with devastating results.
Since the day my child was taken from me I have woken in the morning and gone to bed at night with that event on my mind. That has never stopped. My suicide attempts were the result of never ending grief and depression, I thought if I removed myself, my dear family would have relief from the monotony of my constant despair.
I did not find my voice until the 1990s.
I request…To petition the House to:
Undertake a broad and full inquiry into the practice of “forced adoption” in New Zealand during the 1950s to the 1980s, and that the inquiry include and acknowledge the abuse, pain, and suffering caused by the State sanctioned practice of forced adoption.
After a full investigation the results must be placed in public records, only then can a sincere apology be made.
And/also put in place services to support bereaved women eg. “Listening Lines’ ‘Counselling services, legal advice and compensation…Resources to be obtained from all State, Religious and private agencies that were involved in the procurement of children, the exploitation of vulnerable women and the misuse the Adoption Act 1955.
(Addendum: Policies regarding children who are truly orphaned or in danger must take into regard and provide protection for the child’s identity.
Addiction, poverty and social inequality must be addressed before the removal of a child from its family/whanau).
Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects. – Dalai Lama
Margaret Wilkinson nee Evington