Growing up, Susan Utber never questioned her life before her adoption at 11 days old. It was only until having a conversation with her son that she began a search that would forever change her life. “I described my feelings to my son as the feather from Forrest Gump; I am floating around and I don’t belong anywhere. He responded; I feel the same way mum, because I don’t know who half my family is. I didn’t think it was impacting them also” says Susan.
At the age of 30, Susan met her birth mother. She described the experience as “bizarre. To me, she was a stranger. She was looking to me to heal her ills, and that wasn’t something that I felt I could do or wanted to do.” When Susan asked about her father, the response she received was the reason for all the heartache which she continues to suffer – “I am not going to tell you and I will never tell you.”
“I didn’t think that was her information to keep, but that it was my information to have. I thought it was cruel not to tell me and I thought she was doing that for herself. Instead of protecting me, she was protecting herself.” Sadly, Susan’s birth mother has since passed and Susan never received the answer she is desperately looking for.
It has been a long journey of 7 years and Susan Utber has not being successful in finding any information about her father. She has tried everything she can think of including sending letters to people within the Dubbo area, which is where the family is from, along with her documentation but only received 2 replies by whom are not related. She also hired a private investigator who turned out to be a fraud.
“There’s no way of knowing unless the birth mother tells you. That one person can have so much power and can impact so much. I think that is a flaw in the system.”
Her burning desire to know who he is has caused Susan a lot of anguish. “There’s been a period of time where I was severely depressed and suicidal. It’s demoralising and frustrating. To me, it’s a birth right to know who my biological parents are.”
Susan strongly believes that changes to record obtaining and keeping in the adoption system need to be made. “The details of both parents should be kept and stored carefully. I think that if the kid wishes to access this information, they should have access to. We should try to legislate that this information should be given.”
Susan continues her search for her father and doesn’t plan on ever giving up.