A mother?s love
By MEL MARTIN
FOR Maureen Bucha-nan, Sorry Day was a happy day this year. Yet it has not always been so.
The past 37 years has seen Maureen searching for her son, Steven, taken from her when he was just one week old. This year, however, she finally found him.
"Today is not a sorry day for me, because this year I found my son, and today he's come up to visit me," she said.
Brought up in a western culture and having never known the truth, Steven Torrens' reality was thrown upside down when he discovered he was part of the stolen generation earlier this year.
But at the same time, he found his identity and his world suddenly started to make sense.
"All my life I've felt lost, confused and frustrated, and I didn't know why. I've always been looking for something, but I never knew what it was," he said.
"It's like a jigsaw puzzle, and the biggest missing piece was my family and my identity."
So, it's only been in the past few months that Steven has been finding out about his culture, his family, and the policy of removing Aboriginal children, which started in the 19th century and went on into the 1970s.
During that time an estimated 45,000 to 55,000 children were taken away from their families. Thousands are still searching.
"The best thing that's happened has been that the more I find out about my Aboriginality, the more I find out about who I am."
Maureen said she was pressured into signing the papers that would allow the authorities to take her son, having been told she would get him back after 12 months.
But when she called 12 months later, his existence was denied. So for 37 years, she was left wondering ? and searching.
Always on the lookout for someone who might look like him, Maureen would sometimes tap someone on the shoulder and have to apologise when she realised it wasn't Steven.
"But I kept telling my other children that one day he would come home," Maureen, who now has 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, said.
"It's amazing how a whole community can be affected, waiting for a child to come home," Steven said.
"For 37 years, my mother and my family have wanted me back and talked about me."
Maureen found Steven through Link-Up, an indigenous family reunion service, and while this is not Steven's first visit, Sorry Day was an appropriate day to be with his mother.
"This day is about healing the past," he said.
"I'm putting the pieces together."
More information on the National Day of Healing, on the Bringing Them Home report, or on the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is available at www.journeyofhealing.com.