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Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs


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About the Author

Jane Eales met her future husband in Johannesburg and followed him to Oxford where they married. Two years later they return to Johannesburg and she studies social work at the University of Witwatersrand. In 1980, the family moved to Sydney Australia. Here the eldest of their three children was diagnosed with a disability. As he entered adolescence, his health deteriorated markedly and in 1990, in order to obtain some clarity about her genes, Jane began to search for her biological family. Fifteen years later in 2005, she met her half-brother at Canary Wharf in London. Thus began an amazing journey of discovery. Flooded with information, and as a way of making sense of everything, she began to write. Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs is the result. There was another unexpected outcome of her search for identity: in 2008, Jane began to draw and paint. This has since become a much loved source of peace and joy. (See Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs is her first book. Jane and her husband continue to live in Sydney with their children and their grandchildren.


A book review by Emeritus professor Ross Fitzgerald was published in The Weekend Australian on the 18th July 2015, with the heading MOTHER YOU HAD ME BUT i NEVER HAD YOU - a reference to a song written in 1970 by John Lennon MBE, the co-founder of The Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. Extract from Review Jane Eales, who was born in London in April 1947, was 19 when she was told she was adopted. As was so unfortunately common in that day and age, Jane was sworn to silence. In particular, her adoptive mother told her: "You must promise us never to look for your mother and father." Reluctantly, Jane agreed. After this bombshell, Jane's sense of reality became increasingly tenuous and for years she fought to keep a sense of rejection at bay. At the same time, she couldn't imagine any circumstance or reason not to keep her promise to her adoptive parents. But she often wondered: why? Why the insistence on secrecy? It took almost 40 years before Jane Eales, nee Kleyn, began painstakingly to search for her biological mother. She pressingly felt the need to understand why the person she refers to in this heart-wrenching book as "Mother" gave her up for adoption. Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs also explores why Eales's biological mother, Phyllis was obsessed with breeding Dalmatians (hence the book's arresting title). Some of the illustrations in this well-produced book are extremely touching: a photograph of the author as a little girl whose birthday had never been celebrated by her adoptive parents; another of her large extended biological family. Eales eventually discovered that Phyllis had died on January 3, 1963 - a few years before she learned of her adoption. One of the most fascinating sections of this finely-crafted memoir concerns Phyllis's career during World War II. In particular, Eales explores the possibility that Mother worked with both the British and Dutch intelligence services, in London and in Arnhem. I will not reveal Eales's conclusions. As Eales confides, her search for her biological mother provided unexpected bonuses, if not blessings. These included "an expanded perspective and awareness of the adoption process, and the changing face of contemporary adoption practices." She confronts the multifaceted issues faced by many adoptees. This is crucial because, in the not so distant past, a shockingly high percentage of men and women who were adopted committed suicide. For many, the scars of secrecy and subterfuge are too hard to bear. Hence, after thinking for decades that there was something seriously wrong with her, Eales realized her problems and difficulties as an adoptee were not something that she had to resolve on her own. In particular, she found it extremely helpful to use the services of the Post Adoption Resource Centre in Sydney, where she now lives. Eales's often riveting narrative ends with a heartfelt plea: "Thank you, Mother, for being the person you were! I feel I know you now, but please tell me who is my father? Will I ever really know?" Also featured in this deeply courageous memoir is an ambiguously equivocal acknowledgement of her adoptive family who, "despite everything, generously gave me a home and a family, and always had the very best of intentions." RADIO INTERVIEWS - With RICHARD FIDLER on the much loved CONVERSATION WITH RICHARD FIDLER program on ABC Radio National (50-minutes). (16th April 2015) - With LISH FEJER on 666ABC Canberra, SUNDAY BRUNCH (23rd November 2014) - With DAVID BARR on TUESDAY DRIVE on Eastside 89.7 FM radio (1 September 2015) TELEVISION INTERVIEW (live) on the Channel 9 MORNINGS SHOW with GEORGIE GARDNER and DAVID CAMPBELL (23rd February 2015) ARTICLES in 'YOURS' Magazine (May 14 2015 issue), THE MOSMAN DAILY and THE NORTH SHORE TIMES. (See links to the above at

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