My biological mother was not allowed to name her baby. But the name she gave me in her heart is real | Adoption


IIt was not until 2020, at the age of 52, that I obtained the right to use my name. But as with all things adoption, nothing is as simple as it seems. Like other babies given to infertile couples under Australia’s “forced adoption” policies, my birth certificate was revoked shortly after I was born; a second birth certificate created a legal fiction to make it look like I was born of the infertile couple.

With the stroke of a pen, I was denied any connection with all my family – my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmothers – and my first name. After a few months, I was handed over to the couple who took me home. I had no social history, no medical, racial or genetic history. Everything was top secret.

The records of between 140,000 and 250,000 Australian babies were sealed by law, with the promise that the truth would never be revealed.

Things on that front have gradually changed and adoptees are now allowed to use the names on either of our birth certificates. When I first read about these changes, I cried – it was the first time I saw the dual identities and shared loyalties that Adopted Shadows fully recognized.

But on my first birth certificate, the name my mother chose for me is missing, and I am identified by the word “Unnamed” with my mother’s last name. According to this certificate, my name is Unnamed Champion. My second birth certificate mentions the name given to me by my adoptive family.

The embedded birth certificate allows me to choose either of these two names, but it seems pointless for adoptees to be known as “no name” when the intent of the embedded birth certificates is to help adoptees connect with their full identity.

It took me several months to realize that this profound breakthrough doesn’t accomplish what it set out to do: it doesn’t allow me to see the name my mother wanted for me.

Weekend in Australia

The only place my mother was ever allowed to use my name was in her mind. As she was told to stop crying by the ‘real’ mothers breastfeeding their babies in the beds next to her, as she was unknowingly given anti-milk meds, as she signed all the papers because she did everything she was told, the name was in her head and her heart: Jonas.

Like the perpetual state of nostalgia, the name haunted her for years, though even now Jona still doesn’t exist. The state of New South Wales sent me to live with people who called me something else. They called me Eudora*, the name they gave me for over 50 years.

The simple facts are these: I was born and hid where my mother could not find me. She had no lawyer, and she was a minor, without legal capacity to resign me. A girl like her had no right to name her baby.

It was part of the punishment for being shamed and blamed in the delivery room as a girl gone bad. Above the bed was a three-letter sign, “BFA”, to identify that this was a baby for adoption.

“Nameless Champion”. Born in a small regional town on the outskirts of Sydney, one winter morning in the late 1960s, and no mention of “Jona”. To me, confusion and cognitive dissonance seem impossible to resolve.

I recently explained to a psychologist that I had two families with two divergent histories. I look like these people. I look like these people, I think and behave like these the people, the people I was born with.

My brother, on the other hand, is one of those the people, on the other side of my life, the people I was sent to. My mother is one of those people. And my dad, well, he’s one of those people too.

For an adopted person, the idea of ​​dad is complicated. Mom’s idea is complicated. The idea of ​​brother and sister, home and belonging – it’s all complicated. Even your name and the names we use to identify the family – none of this is easy to understand.

Think of the words – mom, dad – how can anyone feel them without a visceral response in the belly, in the heart, in the throat? When I hear these words, there is a glitch, a moment of realignment, as I search for who fills these roles in my life. None of this gets easier with time.

In 2021, I applied to the Ministry of Community and Justice for my birth certificates. It is now July 2022. A few months ago I was asked to put an additional signature on the form and wait another nine months for my integrated birth certificate to arrive. This document gives me the choice to use either the name from my first birth certificate or my second, depending on my preference.

After a lifetime, I can finally choose. But first I have to wait for a whole new gestation period for the documents to arrive. Besides, I won’t have the choice between identifying myself as Jona or Eudora. I will be offered the choice between Eudora or Unnamed.

The laws governing my separation from my biological mother erased the history written in my body as if my DNA had never existed. But it exists, it is real. And the name she calls me in her heart is real too.

*Name has been changed

In Australia, support is available from Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 and MensLine on 1300 789 978. In the UK, the charity Mind is available on 0300 123 3393 and Childline at 0800 1111. In the United States, Mental Health America is available at 800-273-8255


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