A group of Queensland women is giving a voice to those who have experienced forced adoption

Vivienne Timmermans knows the danger of keeping secrets.

“It can kill you. It’s such a burden,” she says.

At 16 years old, she kept her pregnancy a secret from her mother until the day she thought she was going to give birth.

After that, it would take another 18 years before she would tell another soul about it.

“I don’t remember much [from the day I had my daughter] because I was fairly well drugged a lot,” she says.

“I was held down. I actually had a pillow over my face so I couldn’t see the child and they had a curtain in front of me too.”

A young woman lies on the beach.
Vivienne says she felt like she didn’t have a choice but to adopt her baby.(supplied)

While she wasn’t allowed to see her baby, she was allowed to name her.

“I remember flicking through a magazine and looking for a name because I didn’t think I was going to be able to name her,” she says.

“I found one that I liked: Sheree. And that’s what I named her.”

Vivienne says she never considered keeping her baby, because it was never a choice.

“I was always told that a child would need a mother and a father and how was I going to raise a child,” she says.

“It wasn’t a choice. I wasn’t given that choice.

“If I had a choice, I may have made that decision but at that time I thought I had no choice.”

‘It’s a secret, don’t tell’

Stories like Vivienne’s are all too common.

A 2012 report into forced adoption practices in Australia estimates that between 1951 and 1975 there were as many as 150,000 total adoptions.


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