He had spent his childhood in foster homes, children’s homes and with stepfamilies.
Later in life, he settled down, married, had children and led a successful corporate career.
One day, everything changed.
Stephen lost his job and his home. His wife left with his children and he hit ‘rock bottom.’
At the age of 50, he was left to wonder where it all went wrong.
“I could only put it down to my childhood.
“A part of history I had managed to bury for many years. My past was a blur and I needed clarity.”
Stephen met Heritage Service manager Catriona, who began the search for his foster care and adoption records.
She was successful, and in November 2019, Stephen and a close friend went back to see Catriona.
“We waded through the documents and for the next 3 hours the emotional roller coaster ride ensued. Anger, pain, hurt, helplessness, hopelessness,” says Stephen.
The records only covered 2 years of his childhood from the age of 4 to 6, but it was a start.
Catriona’s search continued and just a few months later, she was able to locate the rest of his records with OzChild.
By this stage, COVID-19 had restricted his ability to meet with Catriona in person, so his records were posted to him to read and digest.
“I was one of the lucky kids in the process. I could see the social workers involved actually cared, the department did try to do the right thing and make the best choices for me,” Stephen said.
Uncovering his past has not been easy, but Stephen acknowledges that the discomfort has been helpful in validating his feelings and taking the guesswork out of his past.
“I finally feel like I do exist now. There are records, evidence that my memories aren’t imaginative but that it did happen,” he said.
“Thank you Uniting for supporting me on this journey of discovery and healing.”