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I Was Only Nineteen: A Memoir


It was a different world in 1966. Considered a social and moral outrage to have a baby out of wedlock, babies were taken from single mothers because they didn’t have husbands. In I Was Only Nineteen, author Raewyn Harlum tells how she relinquished a baby to whom she had just given birth. At the time, nineteen-year-old Raewyn was homeless and sleeping on the floor of people she’d known four days. Destitute, her possessions filled one suitcase. She had no family or friends in Australia and her partner already had a wife. When she went into labor, her partner left her at the hospital telling her she couldn’t keep the baby. If she did, he’d disappear with their two-year-old son. In this heartbreaking memoir, she shares her story that includes the reunion of the birth parents with the baby after she’d grown into a beautiful young woman. It was not a love-conquers-all meeting; the young woman doesn’t understand why her birth parents gave her up and then had more children.

Meet the Author

RAEWYN HARLUM grew up on Waiheke Island in New Zealand in the 1950s. She married an Australian and became an Australian citizen. Raewyn is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, writer, poet, artist, and gardener. She lives in the Noosa Hinterland, Queensland, Australia, with her cat Panda.

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