For those of you who began life in a building like the above or something a little smaller, but probably more crowded, this post is a tribute to you, your perseverance and courage. You are survivors, thrivers and have overcome much to be able to achieve what has been achieved in the last year.
This week here in Australia, we’re particularly thinking of the adoptees who took part in the Australian Government Senate Inquiry into forced adoption by writing submissions, giving evidence at hearings or both and of those who will be there for the handing down of the Report, some of them walking for others who can’t be present.
The Report will be handed down tomorrow and adoptees have again been criticised, judged and given a hard time by some of the mothers of Origins who believe it seems, that an apology if offered, should not be accepted! Of course they do not speak for adoptees, nor for all mothers, many of whom belong to The Apology Alliance and will be glad to accept an apology. Opinion is divided over compensation, some mothers have already received compensation for suffering over adoption and some seem unable to accept that others have different ideas or feel that no compensation would ever be enough and that it’s not about money.
This difference of opinion has characterised the Inquiry and is reflected in the Submissions, some sent from people not even living in Australia or anything to do with adoption in Australia and obviously not fully cognisant of the situation here for adoptees or with mothers. Their contribution has not been helpful to adoptees, sometimes fellow adoptees, but is transparently obvious in intent. Perhaps you would have been wise to seek more information before making yourselves look so foolish.
Last night saw the ABC Four Corners program report on forced adoption. Mothers told their stories, some of them not for the first time in interview and hopefully the public have begun to have some appreciation of what forced adoption was about. One token adoptee was interviewed, but only in the context of reunion with his mother, whom he described as ‘a friend’. Australian adoptees are still the Invisible Australians, referred to by journalists and others as ‘our kids’, babies and children. The message seems to have reached the Senators conducting the Inquiry into forced adoption – that just leaves mothers and all other non-adoptees!
There has however been a great deal of progress for adoptees during a hard year, which was often difficult, stressful and divisive, but which most of us survived. Sadly however not all and there are matters under investigation. Our progress in being able to come out, speak out and find each other for support has been momentous. I am reminded of the man who said “It is easier to come out as a gay man than an adoptee”. He has done both and speaks with authority on the matter!
We will not now look back. Many issues have become clear and much has been learned in the last year. For instance, we discovered how very different our stories are; that some of us do not have our birth information or will probably ever be able to have it, despite the legal situation. Many have showed great courage in their pursuit of the truth and have been knocked back, criticised, bullied, ridiculed or simply been unable to find the truth, however hard and wherever they looked. Not so far. While we have the commitment and the courage to continue, we will not give up and will continue to insist that no-one is qualified to speak about the adopted life as we live it or for adoptees, except adult adoptees. We will insist that only adult adoptees can define what adoption is for us and we will not accept the limited and narrow definitions others wish to impose on us and have used to cruelly dismiss and invalidate some of us. It is not acceptable and where once may have been got away with, can no longer pass as an appropriate way to treat adults. Children we are not. Our experiences qualify us to define our own lives, our own experiences and our own future. Hopefully our Submissions and evidence to the Inquiry into forced adoption will provide us with some of the tools and support we need through recommendations in the Report, which will be implemented sooner rather than later. The Senators conducting the Inquiry took us seriously, a situation with which we are not familiar and we are keen to discover tomorrow how that will play out.
For those of you adoptees who are attending; the very best of love and good wishes, walk tall and walk for the rest of us who will be there with you in spirit. Thank you to all who have supported us – our families, friends and our fellow adoptees, particularly in America. Thank you to those who tried to cut us down and hardened our resolve, clarified our goals and showed us what we are up against; your input has been invaluable.