More Exclusionary Reporting on Adoption – ABC article on Queensland Bill

Reporting on the outcome of the Bill aiming to prioritise adoption over long-term care arrangements and fast-track adoption in Queensland in the ABC article:  “Contentious bill over child adoptions passes in Queensland Parliament despite concerns” by Emilie Gramenz on the 24th March 2021 – is yet another example of adoption news reporting which treats the voices and existence of the majority of adoptees and potential adoptees as if they are invisible.  This continued silencing, invalidation and contribution to the invisibility of adopted people needs to end.

The article begins with the statement that  this Bill has been approved  “…despite concerns raised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island services,” and this makes it seem that concerns about adoption in this Bill were not about adoption itself – that adoption is not contentious at all unless it is applied to certain groups.

Despite the majority of the 39 submissions to the previous Committee before the same Bill lapsed, plus the majority of the 15 submissions to the final Committee that had concerns about the prioritisation of adoption for *any* child in care, the issue has been portrayed throughout this article as one that is problematic only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Concern about the adoption of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – who make up around one third of children in care – is entirely warranted, but this should not mean that the views about prioritising adoption in general – for all potentially adoptable children – which were reflected in most submissions should be ignored.

Common issues raised in the submissions included:

  • contravention of human rights
  • replacement of birth certificates
  • loss of identity, ancestry and relationship rights
  • the lack of follow up welfare checks and accountability
  • long-term negative effects of adoption over the lifespan for anyone who is adopted; and
  • intergenerational trauma

These are issues that affect every adopted person.

Adoptees (all of us) are invisible by definition: on adoption our true birth certificates and identity is cancelled, and a new, falsified birth certificate is created. The components that make up a fundamental part of a human being’s identity – our name,  culture, ancestry, who our relatives are,  are all replaced by those of our new carers.  No flags which would identify us as not being biologically related to those caring for us are allowed to remain. We disappear on the order that we are “as if born to” genetic strangers. How can something with such a fundamental impact on a human being’s life and identity only be considered to be of significance if it happens to one group of people?

In this Inquiry an overwhelming majority of large and small stakeholder organisations;  individuals who have lived experience of adoption; adoptee-run organisations like Queensland based Association 4 Adoptees and our national organisation, Adoptee Rights Australia, talked about the problems with adoption for anybody who becomes adopted.  Yet the substance of these submissions appears to have been lost – an “adoption blind spot” phenomenon that advocates for adoptee rights are far too familiar with.

The awareness of the influence of how marginalised groups are portrayed in the media is becoming recognised. Advocates need to similarly call out exclusionary reporting that contributes to the silencing, invalidation and invisibility of adopted people and the fueling of an incredibly skewed perception of adoption in the public consciousness every time it happens – which unfortunately for now is usually every time adoption news is reported at all.

By Sharyn White





Adoption outcomes unknown – AIHW submission

An excerpt from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) submission to the Inquiry into Responses to Historical Forced Adoptions in Victoria – Reporting date due 21st July 2021 :

“𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗔𝗜𝗛𝗪 𝗶𝘀 𝘂𝗻𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗻 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗮𝗱𝗼𝗽𝘁𝗲𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗱𝗼𝗽𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗳𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗱𝗼𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗶𝘀 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗱. 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗶𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗳𝘆 𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗱𝗼𝗽𝘁𝗲𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗮𝗱𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗮, 𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗮 𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗱 𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗻𝗼𝗻-𝗮𝗱𝗼𝗽𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁(𝘀), 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗿𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗱𝗼𝗽𝘁𝗲𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗮𝗱𝗼𝗽𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝘁𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝘀 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗱𝗲𝗺𝗼𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗵𝗶𝗰 𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗮 𝗰𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲𝘀. This makes gathering data on access to supports by adoptees and their adoptive families difficult. For the same reasons, the long-term outcomes of adoption (such as rates of disruption or levels of educational attainment) are difficult to ascertain.


In November 2018, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs Inquiry into Local Adoption tabled its report 𝘉𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘣𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘳𝘴: 𝘢 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘢𝘥𝘰𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘈𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 – 𝘐𝘯𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘳𝘺 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘢𝘥𝘰𝘱𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯. In recognising the importance of evidence-based decision making, the Committee made a number of recommendations. Key among these is that the Adoptions Australia national collection should be upgraded from its current aggregate data table supply arrangement to a unit record collection. In its response, the Australian Government gave in-principle support to this recommendation in September 2019. This enhancement would mean that data linkage could be undertaken to explore a range of short-and long-term outcomes of adoption. Such a transition is dependent on the renegotiation of existing relationships of data supply between the AIHW and relevant Commonwealth, state and territory agencies, and on the capacity of all parties to develop the necessary supporting infrastructure for data collection, provision and reporting.”

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, Submission 20…/inquiries/article/4253