Identity and Denial

Some months ago I had to apply for a new Passport, my old one expired years ago and I wasn’t expecting to go anywhere! I applied for my first one when I was 20 and about to leave my Homeland for what turned out to be nearly 30 years. This time I knew it would be a brief sojourn, but my trepidation was greater. At 20 it never occurred to me that my application would not be successful or difficult in any way. Then of course I hadn’t had five name changes, only the one which did what the subsequent ones didn’t do. It changed my whole name, my whole identity, my past and my future. I was a blank slate. The illegitimate made legitimate. I was given a new history, new relatives, new family and a new future.
The agent in the Post Office, our local Post Master, saw immediately when I presented my application, that I was/am an adoptee. He sat me down at the back, phoned the Canberra Passport Office and fixed it all, based on my past applications and record. Done and dusted in minutes, well, half an hour and he put forward the opinion that it should all be alright now! A few weeks later my shiny, bright new Passport arrived through the post and the significance of the moment was not lost on any of us – my Post Master, my family and my adopted self. During those weeks I continually thought of my brothers and sisters in adoption who are denied their birth information, their records and their rights and who do not have the freedom I have. I still find it difficult to believe that in 2014, adult citizens do not know who they are and are denied their civil rights, treated as second-class, stigmatised, brutalised and diminished by others who have no right to treat others in this way but do so because of their own agendas, their own beliefs and values. I look back now to the feelings I had during those weeks, the doubts, not based on facts, but on the stigmatisation, the illegitimisation of the legitimate and the power held by those in authority over those of us who don’t quite fit the round hole. It is shameful that we allow this to happen, shameful that adopters allowed this to happen to adoptees, shameful that church and state can be so entwined that the rights of citizens are denied. I had hoped to see all this rectified in my life-time, but am now beginning to wonder. It is such a long task, so hard, laborious and difficult to achieve. I know that legions of activists have worked with dedication for so long and will continue to do so until the job is done. The point is that they shouldn’t have to!


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