In 1951, Fred Henskens (born in 1929) was a young man working on building sites in Canberra.
I had a girlfriend named Joy, and I loved her very much and we went everywhere. Anyway, I got her pregnant. She was very religious Catholic. She went to confess and the priest told her that I was bad and then he told her to go to Melbourne. They adopted the child out to a Catholic family because they needed children for Catholic families and that’s what happened.
I had no say in it at all, I had no say in at all, and them days you couldn’t say anything. I didn’t know what to do but anyway she left. She went there and I used to write letters to her and back. Then she never came back to Canberra. I don’t know what happened to her. She came back, oh, three years after that, when I met Helen, the lady I got married to. That was the end of relationship and I don’t know what happened to the child.
I often think about it but it’s best to leave sleeping dogs sleep, you know what I mean.
Credit: Fred Henskens interviewed by Matthew Higgins in the Australian generations oral history project, ORAL TRC 6300/80, National Library of Australia. Recorded on 18 and 19 June 2012 in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.