Reunited after forced adoption, Judy now spends Christmas with both her mums
For 21 years, Judy Glover did not know who her biological mother was, but this Christmas, she will be spending time with both of her mums.
On Christmas Eve Judy will be with her biological mother, Diane Maltby, and on Christmas Day she will be with Maureen Glover — the woman who adopted her at birth.
Judy was one of some 250,000 Australians who were forcibly put up for adoption between 1950 and 1975 under forced adoption policies.
Judy’s biological mother, Mrs Maltby, recalled the horrific scenes at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital when Judy was born in December 1969.
“Basically you’re left alone to birth and there was no support — no nursing staff caring for you and it was pretty traumatic, Mrs Maltby said.
“The unmarried mothers are put into a ward with other mums who are breastfeeding their babies and you have to watch all this.
“You’re given pills to dry your milk up.”
Judy Glover (right) pictured with her biological mother, Diane Maltby, in 1991 (Supplied: Judy Glover)
‘Clean break theory’
Adoption laws were passed in the 1960s in an effort to save unmarried mothers from the social stigma attached to sex outside of marriage, women were often physically restrained during childbirth and their view of their baby was obstructed using a bed sheet or pillow.
Trevor Jordan, the president of Jigsaw Queensland, an advocacy group that supports people affected by adoption, said the separation of mother from child was brutal and immediate.
“Anywhere from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s and beyond … people had this approach called the ‘clean break theory’ which suggested that it would be easier for the child and the mother if there was a complete sudden break,” Mr Jordan said.
“A lot of the experiences that people have were partly geared around that idea.
“We know now that that theory was bogus, it had no real evidence.”
Judy Glover stands in front of a plaque in memory of forced adoptions at The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital where she was born. (Supplied: Judy Glover)
Legislative change sparked emotional journey
When adoption laws changed in 1991, allowing adoptees to apply for their original birth certificates and name of their biological mother, Judy Glover began searching for her natural mother.
“Once the laws changed we started searching,” she said.
“We applied for my original birth certificate and identifying information.
“That’s 27 years ago and it’s still very emotional — there’s still stuff that comes up.”
Despite spending years apart from her biological mother, Judy said the long process has been worthwhile.
“My mums know each other, they get along well, we’ve had mixed family events,” said said.
“I’m very fortunate that it’s possible for me and has been over the years.”
Her adoptive mother, Maureen Glover, says that she supports both Judy and her natural mother, Mrs Maltby.
“It has turned out very well,” Ms Glover said.
“She [Judy] was welcomed into Diane’s family, and that doesn’t always happen.”
Mrs Maltby says that although she was robbed of the opportunity to raise her daughter, the idea that they would one day meet was never far from her mind.
“Over the years you remember her birthday and you always wonder how is she getting on, what her life is like,” she said.
Diane said she had thought about finding Judy for many years before they finally met in 1991.
“I had thought about it because for a long time I couldn’t do anything, there was no legal avenue to seek her out,” Mrs Maltby said.
“We were both very nervous I think [when they met].
“To see the photos of her growing up and what she looked like … it was just wonderful.”
Juggling ‘opposing realities’
Judy said while having the two families places demands on her time, maintaining a relationship with both her mothers is possible.
“Adoption is a very complex thing … there’s a lot of complex emotions involved,” she said.
“I love my adoptive family, they’re wonderful people.
“I also have a great relationship with my maternal family and I love my natural mum, it’s possible to have both.
“With adoption there’s many realities that are somewhat opposing but equally real.”
Trevor Jordan says the success of a reunion can depend on the stage of life people are at and people’s previous life experiences.
“People who search as soon as they turn 18 and get access to information haven’t had a lot of experience with the world but they’ve got the energy, commitment and the focus,” he said.
“People in their 80’s or 90’s can have serious health issues … middle age can be a great time, but people have their own families and life that they have to fit this new relationship into.
“It doesn’t always work out and partly that can be because it depends on how people are at managing relationships.
“It depends on what has happened to them in their life.
“Some people come with unrealistic expectations because they may have had bad experiences and they think the reunion is going to solve all that.”