By Minelle Creed
September 1 2009
Beverely Moore, a Wamba Wamba woman from Swan Hill in Victoria,is still waiting for the son who was 'stolen' from her when he was 4 days old to return home from America.
In 1963, 14 year old Beverley was an unmarried single mother, and due to government policy of the day, her first born son, Russell Thomas Moore, was taken from her and adopted by a non-Indigenous Christian couple, who took him to America and left him there.
Russell was 6 years old when his adopted family took him to America to live. When he was 12 years old when he asked about his heritage, but his adopted family refused to tell him anything. It was during this time that Russell became involved in drugs and alcohol. He spent most of his teen years living on the streets and was in and out of foster homes.
Beverley's son Russell Moore, who was renamed James Hudson Savage by his adopted family, has been in America serving a life sentence for a crime he committed in 1988. In December this year he will have completed more than 20 years of a 25 year non-parole sentence. It was during Russell's trial in 1989, that he met his birth mother, Beverley Moore for the first time, and it was also revealed that he was a child of Australia's Stolen Generation.
Russell was originally sentenced to the Electric Chair and had spent time on Death Row in Florida before the decision was appealed in 1991, a circuit judge then sentenced him to life without parole, meaning he would serve 25 years before he could apply for parole.
International media coverage of his trial showed a young Aboriginal man who was reunited with the mother who he had been 'stolen' from when he was 4 days old. I spoke to Beverley in 2005 about Russell, when they met and her push to bring her eldest son home. Beverley has endured so much heartache since Russell was stolen from her in 1963, she also dealt with her father's death in custody, and the death of her husband, Russell's father, whom she married after Russell was taken from her.
To listen to an interview I did with Russell's mother Beverley at Radio Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory in 2005 click here.
In 1997, The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released its Bringing them Home Report, the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. The report covers International removal and one of the recommendations allows for Indigenous people removed overseas to be reunited with family should they chose.
Russell has embraced his Aboriginal heritage and has a tattoo of a Kangaroo on his body, and he has also indicated he would like to return home to Australia. His mother also wants her son to come home. She has been fighting this fight since 1989.
The International Prisoner Transfer Treaty has been signed between the Australian and United States government's in 2007. But almost nothing has been done to bring Russell back home.