From Fragmentation to Wholeness
by Victoria F
"I was dumbfounded and felt betrayed all these years - that all I knew was a lie. Everyone in the family shared a secret that I was locked out from."
I grew up with the understanding that I was living with my birth parents and never really questioned this, as I could see some physical resemblances to my mother and cousins. I seemed to be very different from other family members however but just saw myself as an 'odd one out'. Being an only child reinforced that as well.
At age 15, in my quest to find part time work, I asked Mum for my Birth Certificate, to which she replied that it had been lost years before. I was determined to look for it. Surely it would show up. So I searched the house when my parents were out and I found divorce papers that were a shock to me. I had never been told they had been previously married. I tried to broach the subject on their return home and was met with equally shocking news that I wasn't expecting! My parents sat me down and shared the whole story ...
I was dumbfounded and felt betrayed all these years - that all I knew was a lie. Everyone in the family shared a secret that I was locked out from.
I had been given up for adoption at age three.
My mother was an alcoholic and wasn't up to caring for me, so on the advice of a 'boyfriend' at the time, was 'up for grabs' or so it sounded to me. My father's sister had given birth to a girl before marrying and had adopted her out into the 'system' and had since discovered that she was unable to bear another child. So, they had me sent to Penang, Malaysia after doing the paperwork, and I arrived in Butterworth where my adoptive Dad was working with the Australian Air Force. I remember waking up surrounded by toys as if this was when my life really began.
I seemed to adjust over time to this strange 'altered reality' and got on with training to do Graphic Design after leaving school. I recall one day at my workplace listening to a story about people's adoption stories and mulling things over as I worked. The phone rang and it was my mother asking me if I could come with her to meet her birth daughter. She had found ‘my Mum' and wanted to meet her!
It felt as if my world had fallen in as suddenly I was to be 'replaced' by this 'real' daughter. I felt as if I had been the replacement and was no longer needed. It was as if the last few years of 'coping' with my newfound role in life had hit home all at once.
I agreed to meet this person and support my Mum, and realised upon meeting her, how fragile her own position was and could see myself in a different light. I was the one who had Mum's love all these years and really belonged with her and Dad. This woman was on the 'outside' to Mum's life and seemed to belong to her own adopted family.
A few years later, weeks before my first wedding, my (adoptive) Mum rang to tell me that my Birth Mother wanted to meet me. What timing! Suddenly this 'stranger' wanted to be at the centre of my wedding, complete with my newfound half-sister and children. A great way to add stress to one's wedding arrangements! As a result, I had my Adoptive Mum's daughter, my Birth Mother, half-sister and family all meet on my wedding day - with other family members and friends confounded over who was who!
It was nice to know I had been loved by my Birth Mum and could see similarities between us, but life became fraught with complications once my new family came onto the scene!
There has been so much happen in the meantime, with many years past and both of my mothers now passed away, and having a family of my own.
I felt that as an artist there must be a way to express some of these events in my life, to be both a catharsis and also a point of identity for others who may have had similar experiences.
Through being given money through the RADF (Arts Funding), I have been able to do much reading about Adoption Issues and people's stories, and compiled these to form a basis for a series of paintings entitled "From Fragmentation Towards Wholeness - Adoption Journeys." I have held one exhibition of this work and hope to exhibit the work more widely in the hope of extending awareness and understanding of the impact these experiences can have in our lives.