Lifestyle

Heartbroken mum tells of 'stolen' baby

Margie Chandler-Cross with her deaf mother Evelyn McDade who was forced to give up her first child for adoption.
Margie Chandler-Cross with her deaf mother Evelyn McDade who was forced to give up her first child for adoption. Dave Noonan

DEAF woman Evelyn McDade was heartbroken to return home to an empty nursery after her first baby was taken off her for adoption just seconds after she gave birth.

Mrs McDade, now 71, was overcome with emotion when Premier Campbell Newman formally apologised to victims of forced adoptions in a ceremony at Brisbane last week.

The Toowoomba woman said the traumatic experience of losing her daughter still haunted her.

Mrs McDade finally met her daughter Marian 38 years later in 2004.

Mrs McDade is profoundly deaf, cannot lip-read and communicates through sign language.

She was ecstatic to fall pregnant with her first child and every fortnight would buy clothes for her baby.

A few days before she gave birth on January 11, 1966, her defacto Les told her he had arranged for their baby to be adopted because Mrs McDade had a disability.

But she was adamant she was keeping her baby.

"I was in hospital, in labour having contractions when they shoved a piece of paper under my nose and gestured for me to sign it," Mrs McDade said through an interpreter, her second daughter Margie.

"I couldn't hear anything they were saying.

"I felt trapped, I felt helpless and I was scared of what Les might do to me.

"I signed the piece of paper and that was it."

Mrs McDade used sign language to try tell the social worker "No, I really want to keep my baby" but no-one would interpret for her.

She did not even get to hold her daughter, whom she named Marian, before she was whisked away.

She later sneaked out of her room to search for her baby but was yelled at by staff.

Mrs McDade said it was heartbreaking to return from hospital and explain to excited friends and neighbours that her baby was gone.

She said she felt whole again when she fell pregnant in June, 1966 with her second daughter Margie.

Her defacto told her "you can keep this one" and abandoned the pair when Margie was six weeks old.

Margie Chandler-Cross, now 45, said she was unaware she had a sister until it was mentioned at a family funeral when she was 37.

She, her mother, and Anne Stuart from adoption support group Jigsaw Queensland tracked down Marian in 2004. She was living in Brisbane.

Mrs McDade said it was wonderful to meet her daughter for the first time.

"It was such a big surprise. The last time I saw her she was a tiny baby," she said.

"Now she is an adult, she has children of her own and a job.

"I always thought of Marian as a baby, never as an adult, because I never saw her grow up."

Ms Chandler-Cross met her sister Marian before her mother did.

"I knew straight away she was my sister. She looked just like Mum," she said.

"We have a lot of the same characteristics, mannerisms. It was amazing."

Mrs McDade and Ms Chandler-Cross attended the apology day on Tuesday, November 27.

Ms Chandler-Cross said she cried for herself and her mother.

"It was really traumatic for her, she had everything ready for her baby," she said.

"Being a woman with a disability she was very disempowered and not able to speak for herself."

Topics:  apology campbell newman editors picks forced adoptions



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