May 8 is Parents’ Day in Korea. However, there are mothers whose motherhood has been deprived by the society. Almost 90% of babies are relinquished simply because they were born to unwed mothers.
KUMSN was forwarded an article, A joyful Mother's Day for some is one of lost childhood memories for others, by Ms. Evelyn Robinson, an author of Adoption and Separation and would like to share this with you all thinking of Korean unwed mothers whose motherhood was stolen due to the stigmas on them.
A joyful Mother's Day for some is
one of lost childhood memories for others
Carol NaderMay 7, 2011
Condemned by society for having a child out of wedlock, Lyn Kinghorn says Mother's Day is a sad reminder of the 20 years she and daughter Christine spent apart. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
WHAT do you say to the daughter who left your arms as a baby and returned to your life a young woman? How do you recover 20 years together that you were deprived of? The reunion is no fairytale, says Lyn Kinghorn. But you can try, at least, to carve a place for yourself in each other's lives.
Mrs Kinghorn is part of a generation of unmarried women coerced into giving up their babies for adoption - a practice that was routine, mainly between the 1950s and 1970s, and is now the subject of a national Senate inquiry. Society condemned these women for having babies out of wedlock. Tomorrow, Mother's Day will be another sad reminder of loss.
The inquiry has received more than 200 submissions. Some women say they were given drugs to make them more submissive and to stop them from breastfeeding. Many weren't allowed to see their babies. There are stories of signatures being forged on adoption consent forms, and cases of suicide. Some women had their own families turn against them. Many now want an apology. There are now grown-up children still traumatised too.
The Senate committee was due to report at the end of June. But the inquiry chairwoman, Greens senator Rachel Siewert, says the response has been so substantial it is likely the date will be extended. ''It's another group of Australians that suffered as a result of government policies,'' she says. ''There's overwhelming calls for an apology and the committee will be carefully considering it.''
In Mrs Kinghorn's case, it was 1963. She was pregnant at 16, a mother at 17. She and her boyfriend wanted to keep their baby. Her parents told her she was a bad girl, and drove him away.
She gave birth to a girl and got to spend a week with her in hospital. Then, she was dragged screaming from the hospital by a nurse and separated from her baby. ''I didn't want to leave my baby,'' she says. She turned to another nurse for help, who put an arm around her and told her: ''Go home and be a good girl.''
They told her if she loved her baby she would give her up, and she would have a baby of her own one day. ''My mother said if I didn't sign the consent my daughter would grow up in an orphanage and how could I be selfish to do that to her?''
She married someone else, still distressed, and had four more children, never forgetting her first. ''When there were photos of my children there was always an empty spot,'' she says.
When her first child was 20, she found out her name by accident - Christine Farmer. She and her husband began trawling through the electoral roll. Her husband found her.
Their first meeting was tense and anxious. ''I still believed I was a tramp and all the things I'd been told and I thought she would be too beautiful and too perfect to want to know me,'' she says. ''It took probably 10 years of having contact with her before I could breathe properly when I was near her.''
Where many reunions are fraught, theirs has gone well. Twenty-seven years after reconnecting, they are still in each other's lives. ''We value what we have, rather than dwelling on what we don't,'' Ms Farmer says.
Her birth father had given Mrs Kinghorn a necklace and earrings that she kept, always wanting to give them to her daughter. Ms Farmer says she was raised by caring parents, but they had always told her to keep the adoption a secret. ''Growing up I was expected to pretend I belonged to the parents that raised me,'' she says. People would look at her and search for physical similarities with her parents that didn't exist.
She understands what happened to women of her mother's generation, but it doesn't repair the damage. It has made her cherish her own children even more. ''History has taught us that we can't trust government policy,'' she says. ''We depend on the moral courage of those in positions of power to advocate for the dignity and best interests of those that are vulnerable.''
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