Family ripped apart
PATEENA Peanna is still searching for the truth as to why she was taken from her birth family more than 40 years ago.
Born in Balmain in November 1966 and named Pateena Cherie Rosevear, she was taken from her parents at about six months of age because the authorities were concerned about her mother's mental health.
Ms Peanna's natural parents soon separated but because she was born out of wedlock, father Ivan Rosevear could not apply for custody.
"In those days there was no way for a man to be a single parent," Ms Peanna said.
Despite her father refusing to sign adoption papers, Ms Peanna was placed into foster care and later adopted by a family in Kyogle.
At the age of 21, Ms Peanna's 'parents' revealed the truth about the adoption.
Her boyfriend at the time searched the phonebook for Rosevear, dialled a Sydney number and asked the man who answered if he had a long-lost daughter.
When he said 'yes', the boyfriend asked how he would recognise his daughter.
"He said she has two distinct birthmarks in the middle of her neck and a freckle in her eye," Ms Peanna recalled.
Her boyfriend then handed the phone to Ms Peanna.
"I said, are you sure I'm yours?"
What was said next left her shell-shocked.
"He said to me 'I've been looking for you ever since they took you. I never stopped searching and I never ever surrendered you. All I wanted was for you to be with me'," Ms Peanna said.
According to Ms Peanna her parents had been denied access to photos, school reports and news about their daughter's fate and sadly her mother had lost her desire to live once her baby was taken from her.
"All she wanted was her baby back. She cried for me for years, it got the better of her and she suicided," Ms Peanna said.
A landmark inquiry into forced adoption tabled in Federal Parliament last week found thousands of children have been affected by the practice.
Ms Peanna was reunited with her father in 1989 and they were "close friends" until his death eight years ago but said her life was still full of unanswered questions
"It haunts you. Why was I taken away? How did they adopt me without consent?" Ms Peanna asked.
"It makes you feel different because you look around the street and think, is that my relative?
"I'm always looking for family members and it's not knowing that's the killer.
"Who am I?"