Australia apologizes for adoption pain

Forced Adoption Logo (2)How many of us in the “adoption community,” particularly in the USA, know about the heartfelt apology issued in March 2013 by the Australian government?

I want you to read the short letter from Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Read the ENTIRE thing! In fact, read it out loud. It’s not long. But it does capture the pain and frustration that many TRAs, other adoptees, birth mothers and other first family members, and various adoption reformers (and let’s not forget adoption abolitionists) have been injecting into the dominant pro-adoption narrative. These perspectives go largely unheard or dismissed as “too negative” because they do not “celebrate” adoption.

Deeply moved as I read the apology, I found myself muttering, “Wow” repeatedly. Does it change the material conditions of living people’s realities? By itself, no, of course not. But as a symbolic gesture, the Australian government’s apology is a start in the right direction of dismantling the hegemonic influence of an adoption industry that woefully under-serves children and families. In other words, I read the apology as an act by a collective of individuals who are beginning to hold themselves accountable for participating in a corrupt, harm-causing, hugely skewed system that is rooted in systemic oppression.

PLEASE  DO READ IT. It is short and poignant. In fact, share it with the adoptees in your life, adoptees of all ages. I want my sons to read it. I think they will feel empowered, validated, and recognized. At last. It won’t take away their pain, but I am certain that it will  send a message that they are finally seen, that their experience has been affirmed by people in power.

That’s how I felt, as an adoptee and as an adoptive parent. Allies, I DARE you to read it to younger children and youth. And then ask them what they think. Don’t be surprised if they burst into tears. That should be a lesson. Be ready to bear witness to the accumulated pain from the trauma of relinquishment or abandonment, from foster care, and from adoption. And if you are too scared to share this letter of apology with adoptees, then ask yourself this: “If I am too afraid to bear witness to their pain, as an adult or as a ally, how can I possibly deny them access to and connections with individuals that are making sense of a similar experience?” The least we can do is encourage younger and older adoptees to connect with each other to form supportive relationships.

CLICK ON THE LINK TO READ THE APOLOGY NOW: Nationalapologyforforcedadoptions

Distribute it widely. Let’s have this sort of courageous conversation here in North America. Finally. And thank you, Australia.

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5 thoughts on “Australia apologizes for adoption pain

  1. Thank you John for giving this important Apology some air time. As an Aussie adoptee who worked towards th Apology for two years it was an important day for all adoptees to be recognised and for the inhumanity of adoption to be acknowledged.You might also like to read the South Australian Government’s Apology which I found far more moving, perhaps because I was there for it’s delivery or perhaps because it seemed more heartfelt and real.
    Of course this is only the beginning for adoptees. The Federal Government’s Inquiry recommended 20 initiatives which included counselling for adoptees to be made available. There is a working group taking forward those recommendations. Work is by no means over!

    • Thanks for all your advocacy work on this! And for the additional info. The link to the South Australian apology as a video did not work. I would very much like to compare the two documents. Is it available in print or as a PDF?

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. I too said Wow. For a country to realize it’s shame and put it out there for all to see and vow to never let it happen again is profound. Do you think that our country could ever say ‘sorry’ for all that we have done in the name of Mom, Apple pie and the American way ? I doubt it. But hey, it is a beginning. In our future maybe we will see and apology for exterminating the Native American, Slavery, Japanese internment camps, the rigged adoption programs and the list goes on . I do admire what you do. Love and Hugs, Kay

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