Society frowned on scared teen
THIS is an adoption story with a happy ending. For 38 years, Jonny Aston had not told a soul about the baby daughter whom she had been forced to give up following a teenage pregnancy.
When she started researching on the internet in 1999, she found the adoption agency and registered her name, hoping that her daughter would do the same.
In October of that year, Jonny and her daughter, Debra, who still lives in England, were matched.
It was time for Jonny, of Sippy Downs, to share her story.
Living in the English countryside in the 1960s, Jonny and her boyfriend were young and naïve and had received no education about contraception.
Although the young couple wanted to keep the baby, society dictated otherwise.
"Being an unmarried mother in those times was the worst kind of shame," Jonny said.
"There was no government support like there is now, and my parents would have disowned me.
"I was hidden away, and taken to live at the London Home for Unmarried Mothers so that no one would know that I was pregnant."
Scared and alone, Jonny watched her belly swell, knowing that she would not be able to keep her baby.
After her daughter was born on New Year's Eve of 1962, Jonny was required to stay in hospital with her for 10 days.
"We lay next to each other for 10 days, but I didn't dare look at her, or pick her up, or love her, because I knew that I would have to walk away," she said.
On her 16th birthday, Jonny's father collected her from the hospital and took her home.
"My baby was never mentioned again," she said.
But her daughter was always at the back of Jonny's mind, even after she relocated to Australia with her then husband and two children in 1971.
"I wondered what she was like - if she was clever, happy, or even if she was still alive," Jonny recalled.
When she took that first step to research her past, Jonny and Debra became the first mother and child the agency had matched using the register.
Debra, meanwhile, had grown up knowing and accepting that she was adopted.
But when she became a mother herself, she decided she wanted to find out who her birth mother was.
Jonny and Debra met in 2000 and had an instant connection.
"We have developed a close relationship and visit whenever we can," Jonny said.
While Jonny regrets not having the opportunity to make her own choice about the adoption, she knows raising Debra on her own would have been impossible.
"I am so grateful to her adoptive parents for raising her the way they did and giving her the life that I couldn't possibly have provided at that stage in my life," Jonny said.
This year, Jonny self-published a book telling her story, Yours Hopefully.
"I have found the courage to talk about it and I hope it encourages other people in my situation to stop feeling ashamed and open up about their experiences," she said.
"I know there are many stories that don't end as happily as mine has, but closure is important."
To buy Jonny's book you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Yours Hopefully costs $20 with an extra $5 postage.