1992: Australia Law Reform Commission

 

1992, New South Wales, Australia. Law Reform Commission, Review of the Adoption Information Act of 1990 —

I met wonderful people from Australia at the 1992 American Adoption Congress Conference and public rally held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of them, Trish Farrar, was impressed with our American backward way of thinking. She was so taken by the visuals I provided on a billboard designed as an American Flag with enlarged photocopies of my truthful and falsified birth certificates that she asked me to pose for photos with both sides of my billboard. These photos are posted here.

Trish later asked me to write in testimony to support legislation for open records in New South Wales, Australia. This correspondence is presented here. When the final report was completed, the Commission sent a copy of their summary report, which will be scanned and presented here.

I also met terrific people from South Africa and New Zealand at AAC conferences. You’ve been waiting for my book for a long time, wanting it available in your countries. It soon will be.

I think the most profound experience that I had in the early 1990s was hearing Carole Anderson of Concerned United Birthparents speak on what she learned from an International Adoption Conference held in Australia. She told of the responses and reactions of aboriginal families when white government workers came and took their children away to be raised as whites in boarding schools and foster homes. Carole told of a grandfather of a stolen child who clung for days to a tree in grief. Just weeks after hearing this story, I heard the song, Took the Children Away, by Archie Roach, on our local folk and roots music radio show. And then I rushed to buy tickets to see him in concert. Meeting this man and his wife, Ruby Hunter, back stage and hearing their stories of being ripped from their families just because they were black, left a deep engraving on my heart. Taking children to make them white was practiced in Australia from the early 1900s to the early 1970s.

Though my contribution may be small compared to what others have done in adoption reform, I’d like to think that my consistent message and tenacity have had some positive effect over time. One letter here, one letter there, telling my experiences and recommendations for positive adoption reform may help influence public perception, may help to keep families together, or to keep legislation for open records active. For example, as a result of public backlash from thousands of people, the white Australian government instituted search and reunion centers in the 1990s (for Aborigines who were removed from their families) and apologized to its native peoples in 2008.

Today, child adoption in general is not standard practice in Australia. Instead, family preservation helps families stay together. Newborns are not taken away from their mothers at birth simply because they are not married. We do this in supposedly free America. And then we change the birth certificates for these babies and provide homes because the new parents want children. These don’t seem to be good family values to me. America has much to learn from other countries.

Here are the two photos taken by Trish Farrar of New South Wales, Australia of me and my billboard.

Letters of correspondence follow, as well as copies of the 1992 Summary Report of the “Review of the Adoption Information Act (of) 1990”.

1992Joanwithbanner1-a

1992Joanwithbanner2-a

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LawReformCommission-LetterFromTrishFarrarAustralia- April 9 1992

LawReformCommissionMyWrittenTestimony NewSouthWales,Australia 1992

LawReformCommissionMyWrittenTestimony pg2 NewSouthWales, Australia 1992

LawReformCommissionMyWrittenTestimony Pg3 NewSouthWales,Australia 1992

LawReformCommissionMyWrittenTestimony pg4 NewSouthWales, Australia 1992

LawReformCommissionReplyFromDirector NewSouthWales, Australia 1999