40 years ago 'welfare people' took my son, and I've never seen him again

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"My Mom and Dad were at work, and these people just took my son away. I was left there all alone and very confused." Photo: Getty Images
"My Mom and Dad were at work, and these people just took my son away. I was left there all alone and very confused." Photo: Getty Images

Salomé Vonita Tadford shares how her son was taken from her when he was just three months old and shares the heartbreak she has suffered over the years as she searched for him.

Read her story here:

Growing up, I was placed into a day care of a family in the North Eastern suburbs of Johannesburg, during the day while my mom was at work. The adult male of the family regularly molested me. This started as games which escalated to more intimate touching and penetration.

Later on in life, I have learned that this is a typical example of sexual grooming which is very prevalent in societies today. Eight-year old's are still very underdeveloped and these actions are easily construed as normal games.

Fast forward to when I was 12 years old, I contracted diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial disease. I was discharged after a few days and I was highly medicated.

A male friend of my parents came to visit. My mom and dad were still married then with my mom at work and my dad who worked night-shift, sleeping.

Read: Everything you need to know about child abuse 

I recall this visitor spending some time talking to me in my bedroom. For whatever reason, be it the medication or the trauma of the event I don't recall much from there. I suspect I fell asleep. 

When I was well enough, I returned to school.

At some point several months later I started feeling sick again. Nausea, No energy, Listless, always tired. My Mom took me to see a doctor. After examination the doctor told my mother that I was five months pregnant.

My mother then interrogated me on what had happened. I did not ever recall having sexual intercourse. Again, I was only 12 years old.

When I was 13, the situation in my parents' house worsened. My mom and dad started fighting quite a lot. My dad started to drink much more than usual, and when he had a couple of drinks tendered to get violent with my mom.

The safest thing for me to do was to keep out of their way. However, this was not easy as I was taking care of my daughter.

My parents suddenly divorced, and the welfare came and took my daughter away from me. I was not able to see her again for quite a long time. You can imagine the emotional trauma this caused to a 13-year-old.

Also read: Advice for parents and teachers of child victims of sexual assault

Sexual assault by half brother

In 1981, I was again continuously sexually assaulted, this time by my half-brother. I did not know how to tell my parents, and I did not think they would believe me because of what happened with my pregnancy with my daughter.

This time, I suspected that I was pregnant.

The memories of what happened with the conception and birth of my daughter were still fresh in my mind. I kept quiet out of fear of how my parents were going to react.

However, a point came when again I was taken to the doctor, and he confirmed that I was pregnant. Again, my parents sent me to a place for unmarried young mothers. This time I cannot remember where it was.

I think the double trauma so close together had taken its toll on me.

Lonely birth

When I arrived at the hospital, I was placed in a labour ward by myself. Now and then, one of the nurses would come in to check if I was ready to give birth. There was absolutely nobody with me when I gave birth to my son on 17 September 1981. No parents, no friends, nobody.

Today when looking back, I see how wrong I was. God was there every step of the way. He promises in his word that he keeps and comforts us always.

My son was born weighing 3.1 kg. Slightly smaller than my daughter. He was a beautiful child with a unique feature, a mark under his nipple which almost looks like a third nipple.

Must read: National Child Protection Week comes and goes but the impact of childhood trauma endures into adulthood

Arriving at home after the birth

Arriving home with my son was even more uncomfortable than with my daughter. The tension in the house could be felt at every moment.

When he was about three months old, suddenly, without any warning, some people arrived at the house claiming they were Welfare workers. My mom and dad were at work, and these people just took my son away.

I was left there all alone and very confused.

I have never seen my son again, nor do I know where he is. I have only one photo of him, which I still carry with me wherever I go.

The day they took him away, he was wearing a red and white baby outfit, and he was wearing red and white coloured shoes. This is the only memory of my son I can hold on to.

I still think of him every day. I pray a prayer for my current three beautiful children every day. And a special prayer for my lost son.

I trust God has him in the palm of his hand, and I know that he would have brought great joy to whoever had the privilege of being his parents.

He will be 40 years old on 17 September 2021, and I often wonder if he is married and if he has had any children of his own.

I have contacted the Department of Social Development regarding my son. The department claims they have a record of adoption for my son but will not elaborate on any further information.

I do not believe he was given out for adoption legally, based on the devious conduct of my parents in many other instances.

Frits Brandon. Born 17 September 1981. I have never forgotten you. I am proud I brought you into this world. I know God has a purpose for you as well. I know you have brought your parents much joy. I pray for your safety every day and hope and trust that I will get to meet you again.

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