Discharges of Adoption for Adopted Adults

by Sharyn White (2016)

The ‘Adoption Act 1988 (South Australia) Review’ by Associate Professor Lorna Hallahan PhD was released in March 2016 and Discharge Recommendation #6 of that review added an amendment for  discharges on the very narrow grounds of ‘Special Circumstances’ – as existed in every other state or territory in Australia.

Here is the argument made at that time for adoptees to be able to get a discharge because it’s their human right to do so.

Discharges suggested under Special Circumstances


  • It ignores the rights of adopted adults who are bound beyond death to a contract they did not consent to in the name of their ‘welfare’.
  • It ignores the rights of adopted adults who identify as the person they were born and with the ancestry they had when they were born.

We don’t feel that the intent of a ‘Special Circumstances’ discharge (which relies on an ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of the relationship with the adopters) would allow a court to give equitable consideration with regards to wider, rights-based discharges, (where the quality of the relationship with the adopters is irrelevant).

Every adopted person should not have to argue the same point individually, and the requirement to seek intensive therapeutic support and have extensive case management is an invasion of privacy which equates to pathologizing something which is not abnormal.

We believe that the availability of a discharge from the adoption order to which they were bound as minors should be available to ALL adopted adults and the Adoption Act 1988 (SA) should be amended to reflect this.

Please note: What is meant by “adoption” in this discussion is the legal decree that a child is ‘as if’ born to people other than who they were born to:

 9—Effect of adoption order:

(1) Subject to this section, where an adoption order is made, the adopted child becomes in contemplation of law the child of the adoptive parents and ceases to be the child of any previous birth or adoptive parents. (Adoption Act 1988 (SA) Division 1).

 This is not a discussion about the reasons for removal, or the quality of subsequent placement. This is not a discussion about long-term care and guardianship orders, which offer permanency without identity removal. Whether the adoption is classed as ‘open’ or ‘closed’ is not at issue here either, as any adoption has the same adoption order. These are all separate issues, and not relevant to this discussion of the discharge of the adoption order itself.

It is generally agreed that all children deserve to be in safe, loving homes, preferably with their natural family members. When that’s not possible, then alternate arrangements need to be made for them…..  Because the law recognizes that minors are not yet fully competent, they cannot sign legal contracts or decide their own custody matters. Their parents may sign for them, and we have courts that decide custody on their behalf. Sometimes that involves assigning strangers to raise a particular child. Sometimes the courts get it right. Sometimes they get it wrong. (Julie Kelly, Choosing Adoption. Or not. 2014).

This is also not a discussion about whether, overall, adoption should continue. The continuation of adoption was presupposed by the Terms of Reference of this Review. This is about all cases where the adoption order has been made which severs a child (then adult and any subsequent generations) from their identity at birth and ancestry at birth.

Quotes from adopted adults:

“I am very thankful for the gift of life, and I am very thankful for the goodness of people who help us through life. However, I live in the shadowlands of being forever banished from my bloodlines and acknowledgement of my true identity.

I only found out I had been adopted when I was an adult. My first instinct was to find my original parents. Two things became very clear in that moment- I did indeed belong- I belonged to the people who gave me life. I also owed a debt of gratitude to the people who cared for me in their home. Yet the two issues must not and should not be confused. My identity was taken from me when I was adopted. I will forever live with the pain of genetic bewilderment. I am and always will be the daughter of my original parents.

Wherever life takes me I will always be an Adoptee Activist….. I look forward to one day having my original identity and birth records restored. It does not negate the care given to me by others, and sadly it will not give me the experiences of knowing kin that many take for granted. However, it will give me peace of mind, a sense of wrongs being made right, and most of all, hope that no one else will have to endure the existential pain of being banished forever from the very essence of their being…

So, even if for no other reason, I ask for your support into the restoration of the one and only accurate record of birth everyone is entitled to. Restore our true and life affirming identity.” Nimueh M. Johnson.


“I’m 42 years old and the reality that I was a piece of property negotiated on a contract that I could not understand or consent to hit me last week. It has really triggered all the bad emotions and feelings of uselessness. I feel so much loss. Not just loss of my original families- but just loss of myself. It’s hell.” Anon


“I did not consent. The only other people who have their identity destroyed without their consent are slaves.” Fiona Hayward


David Foster Wallace’s analogy about what we human beings take for granted is perfect when talking about the privilege of those who haven’t had their ancestry severed: “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and says “What the hell is water?”

In our society, the importance of kin and ancestry is so deeply embedded that often it’s unrecognisable to those with the privilege of the unique combination of recognised social and genetic connections with their family group. This is the ‘water’ most are in, but adopted people are swimming in a very different substance.  It’s partly why some of the concepts are so difficult to get across to non-adopted people, and despite the Review being very impressive in other areas from the adoptee point of view, our voices have certainly not been heard in the area of discharge.

Discharge availability was something that most adoptee group submissions to the Review clearly and explicitly supported. Where this was not explicit there were statements about the rights of adults in contracts they had not consented to.  Yet any reference to discharges with reasons other than abuse were omitted in the Review.

We ask that the recommendation for discharge of adoption be widened to cover an application for discharge where an adopted adult identifies as the person they were born. This encompasses the identification of their heritage and ancestry as that on their original birth certificate (a right taken for granted by the majority).

There is currently no recourse in law to rectify this, even though recognition in official documents and government records has been extended to other minority groups in South Australia – without their members having to prove an abusive childhood to access that right.

A person who identifies as a different sex to that which was recorded when they were born can have the truth of their identity corrected on their birth certificate. This is possible because of the recognition of the importance of someone’s right to live as their true identity. The trauma and discrimination caused when this is prevented and ignored on official documentation and in government records is now understood.

Shouldn’t there be equal treatment and respect for the importance of the right to true identity for all, and not just some, minority groups?

Being bound as adults to a contract we did not consent to:

No matter what good intentions there are regarding the ‘paramountcy of the welfare of the child’ there are long-term consequences for the ‘child then adult’ which arise from the obliteration of their natural family ties by law.  A common thread among adopted people who speak of their need for discharge/termination /a true birth certificate and identity/annulment is the absolute lack of choice – the fact that they are subject to a contract for life and beyond death which they did not agree to – the fact that this is still irrevocable when the adopted person reaches adulthood!  For some adopted adults, having the choice to reclaim the identity and the ancestry they lost (whether or not they have a social relationship with those of their family who are living) is of extreme importance.

The prevailing legal belief is that adoptees are not a party to their own adoption, only the parties who originally brought the petition to court are. An analogy would be that a consumer may return an item they bought back to the store if they are displeased with it for some reason, but the object may never return itself, no matter how displeased the object may be with the arrangement. Therefore, adoptees are but legal chattel with no say in what happens regarding their own adoptions. This needs to be challenged. Nowhere else in law are competent, adult citizens permanently legally bound to contracts they did not sign and do not agree with. (Julie Kelly. Choosing Adoption. Or not. 2014).

The consent/opinion of the subject of the order (Inconsistency in the law):

The fact that the opinion and view of the child over a certain age is acknowledged in the Act at the time the decree of adoption is made demonstrates the tensions involved in this legislation,  and highlights these problematic issues:

8A—Court must consider opinion of child

(1) Before making an order for the adoption of a child of or over 5 years of age, the Court must interview the child to determine what the child’s opinion is in relation to the proposed order (unless satisfied that the child is intellectually incapable of expressing an opinion).

(2) An interview under this section must not be conducted in the presence of any party to the adoption.

(3) In determining whether to make an order for adoption of a child the Court must take into account any opinion expressed by the child in an interview under this section.

(4) The Court may determine the weight to be given to an opinion expressed by a child in an interview under this section, taking into account the age of the child and any other factors the Court considers relevant. (Adoption Act 1988 (SA) Division 1).

Some version of the need for consent is significant at the time of the decree, and then is ignored by law afterwards.

Restorative factor:

The option to have a discharge has been recognised by the Review to be restorative for a particular subgroup who are still suffering because of what happened as children. If this is the case, then there also needs to be recognition that those suffering current trauma due to the effects of still – as an adult – being bound by an order which they have not consented to (and who identify as the person they were born with the ancestry they had when they were born) should also have recourse to a discharge.

Discrimination and Equal Rights:

This is also an issue of equality, discrimination and access to rights which are currently being withheld.

The availability of discharge would prevent ongoing discrimination against a group of people who suffer on a daily basis the trauma of the impossibility of legal identification with their ancestry and identity. Their own ancestry has been obliterated in their legal records and replaced with someone elses. They are required to identify with someone elses heritage and kin and to live (and die) with their identities a ‘legal fiction’.

Example 1: Christin Coralive was adopted as an infant in the 1950’s. One of her deepest and longest held dreams since finding out her real parentage decades ago has been to explore and connect with her ancestry in New Zealand.  The time has finally come, and first she needs a passport.  To get the passport to connect with her ancestry she is forced to lie. The form requires that she answer the question:  mother’s name. If she lies, she gets her passport and can go to New Zealand. If she tells the truth she is treated as having lied and the passport is withheld. The distress and pain of this has previously prevented even the thought of doing it, and has immobilised the passport application for 8 months, to date.

Example 2: Job applications: No-one is going to hire a person who identifies as someone they don’t have primary identification for. As we all know, employment requires a ‘best face’ – a perception that someone does not rock the boat – especially about little-recognised human rights and discrimination issues. So an adopted person who identifies as the person they were born is forced to play a part to obtain and continue in employment.

This issue exists. Why is this issue not being heard, and/or why is it being ignored?

In the Terms of Reference of the Adoption Act 1988 (SA) Review it is stated that “There have been a small number of enquiries about the discharge of adoption orders and most appear to have come from people adopted by a step parent,” (p.23).

Associate Professor Hallahan states: “I met a small number of people who desperately seek the right to discharge the adoption order. I do not consider this a representative sample, but almost all cases (both male and female) related to the prolonged sexual and other forms of abuse by the adoptive father, “ (Adoption Act (SA) Review, p.54). Associate Professor Hallahan does not elaborate further on what a representative sample might look like and goes on to discuss discharge only on the grounds of abuse.

Neither of these statements reflect the reality of the need for discharge within the adopted community. As stated above, discharge availability was something that most adoptee group submissions to the Review clearly and explicitly supported. Where this was not explicit there were statements about the rights of adults in contracts they had not consented to. Yet any reference to discharges with reasons other than abuse was omitted from discussion in the Review.

When an adult adopted person expresses problems around adoption – let alone that they do not wish to continue to be adopted – there are many interpretations and responses (all too frequently, there is moral outrage and vilification). Of the more moderate interpretations, one that is prevalent seems to be that the adopted person is understood as wishing things were different in regards to the initial stages of removal and placement – not that they are talking about their rights in the current circumstances.

The appalling lack of research on the outcomes of adoption for adult adoptees over their lifespan contributes to this lack of awareness.

To be generous, even where the audience is sympathetic and/or intends to be impartial, the unfamiliar voice and discourse of this marginalised group often leads to their further silencing by incomprehension and misunderstandings, if not intent.

The loss of identity and ancestry caused by adoption is real.  It affects current daily life and causes ongoing psychological distress and trauma.  Rates of suicide, mental illness, substance abuse and alcoholism among adopted people have been shown to be significantly higher than in the general population in the minimal scientific research available, and these problems are well known within adoption communities.

Language and Terminology:

The language of adoption identity rights is a discourse mirrored in the language of many other marginalised groups who are acknowledged now, but who spent years fighting and suffering to find their voice, and get their voice heard.

It was stated in the Adoption Act 1988 (SA) Review (p.55) that ‘grey literature’ does not exist on the subject of discharges. Yet articles and conversations, Adoptee Rights groups, and petitions are all accessible (although no specific agreement on terminology may make these harder to find for those outside of the communities).

Some in the adoption community have only just come to be speaking about a ‘discharge’ – yet the issue itself is well known. The concept has been discussed as: “Adoption annulment”, “Adoption Reversal”,  “Terminating an Adoption”,  “Undoing an Adoption”,  “Adoption Dissolution”, “Vacating an Adoption”, “Setting Aside an Adoption”,  “Emancipation”, “The right to use true birth certificates”, “The right to get out of a contract we did not consent to”- and probably many other terms and phrases have been used.

Appendix A is a collection of comments by signatories to a petition produced in 2015 by the Australian Adoptee Rights Action Group (who also made a submission to this Review) seeking the availability of what were described then as annulments, but which are synonymous with the availability of discharges.

Further indicators that this problem exists are in the number of deed poll name changes by adopted people compared to the rest of the population.  Many adopted people have changed their names by deed poll, often several times, and many have changed their name back to what it was on their birth certificate or a variation of that.  This speaks not only to a search for their legal identity important enough to officially pay for and make that change , but also to the idea that it was the closest way available that they could find to reconnect with the identity they had – and lost – at birth.

Individual voices are silenced by a framework which denies the validity and existence of what they are trying to speak of.  It is telling that the example used in the Terms of Reference developed by the Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) for the Adoption Act (SA) 1988 Review is about a person referred from the Royal Commission into Institutional sexual abuse to the DECD.

How many adopted people have questioned the possibility of what we now know to be a ‘discharge’ using other terminology and been told it was impossible to change (go away, go get counseling)? How many people (in counseling or elsewhere) have expressed the distress and trauma they feel at being forced to live bound by a contract they did not consent to? How many times has this been interpreted as an expression of loss in the past for the adopted person?  How many times has the question been asked, misunderstood, seen as something other than what it was, and not shared, not referred anywhere, and therefore not counted? How often has this been done because the counseling service either has little understanding of adoption, (and even if they had there is no avenue of referral as legal recourse is non-existent), or has a vested interest in the status quo of adoption because of their funding sources? How many times has the adopted person – who is used to having no choices over their life and whose identity has never been treated as anything but dispensable – not even asked the question?

The framework of the dominant discourse on adoption in Australia does not allow the adopted adult to speak and if they try to, it is certainly not heard.

The Institution of Adoption/Legal standing of Adoption argument

The Terms of Reference of the Adoption Act 1988 Review state: “Consideration needs to be given to what it might mean for the legal standing of adoption in general if some adopted people could have their adoptions undone, and also whether the law [can?] help those people who believe they have been wronged, by making special provisions in the Adoption Act to undo an adoption.”

Over the years other marginalised and discriminated against groups fought for their rights and were met with resistance about what the expression of the rights of the individual within an institution meant for the meaning and legal standing of the institution itself:

  • Allowing women to vote would bring down the voting system.
  • Allowing divorce would destroy the institution of marriage.
  • Allowing same sex marriage would destroy the institution of marriage (added here because it’s extremely likely to be implemented soon and rightly so).
  • Allowing same sex partners to adopt will destroy the family, and the institution of marriage.

Yet the legal standing of all of these institutions has endured the evolution of the recognition of the rights of the individuals.

Homosexuality was seen in the past as an illness, a maladjustment, something to be rectified, definitely not a human right that needed to be protected in law. The adopted person who identifies as who they were at birth and with the ancestry they had before a legal order created a legal fiction is similarly seen as someone to fix, someone who hasn’t adjusted well, instead of as a person  with valid human rights whose rights need protecting.

There is a requirement in current adoption that potential adopters recognise that the child (then adult and any subsequent generations) has a biological family. With the availability of this discharge, they will also need to be able to accept that the child (then adult and any subsequent generations) may choose to identify as having the ancestry of that family.

Will this lead to all the potential adopters deciding against adoption, thus undermining it? We believe that is highly unlikely. Potential adopters over the years have been given information about issues that the child (then adult) is likely to have in dealing with adoption, and there has been a strong tendency – as is typical of human nature – to assume that this particular set of circumstances will not apply in their case. So it’s very likely that a possible few discharges importantly by adults in adulthood will not undermine the interest of those seeking to adopt infants and young children.

When someone marries they have to recognise that the person they marry may choose to get a divorce. If potential adopters choose not to adopt because of the ability of the later adult to obtain a discharge, then is their understanding of adoption one of indentured obligation rather than concern for the welfare of the child then adult? Wouldn’t it be better to have people who are adopting for the wrong reasons to not even start the process?

The ‘must be exactly Like other Families’ argument:

The Terms of Reference of the Adoption Act 1988 Review state that “discharge of an adoption order on the grounds of family dysfunction, however severe, could be seen to undermine the purpose of adoption, which is to form a family like any other, for the best interests of a child who cannot remain in their original family. The intent of the law is to equate, in legal terms, adoptive families with families into which the children are born. Otherwise there could be two ‘categories’ of legal families and this would appear to be an equity issue.” (p24.)

In the 1994 review of the Adoption Act it was stated that ‘there should be no greater ability for adopted people to ‘divorce’ their adoptive parents than there is for children who lived with their birth parents to ‘divorce’ them.”

But children (then adults and any subsequent generations) within a biological family have both genetic and social ties to their parents and ancestry. The adopted child (then adult and any subsequent generations) only ever has social ties, which are based upon an artificially constructed legal arrangement. Is it truly necessary to enforce such a strict requirement in the face of such fundamental differences? And if it is, is it really based upon the paramountcy of the welfare of the child (then adult and any subsequent generations)?  Or is it based on something else entirely?

In their submission to the Review, JusticeNet have also pointed out the inherent difference between an adoptive and biological family due to the adoptive relationship being a legal construct, and the fact that the biological ties can’t be undone, (JusticeNet Submission, 2015, (a) Adoptive and Biological Families).

According to JusticeNet’s submission, the intent of adoption can be preserved at the same time as the law being applied differently for these intrinsically different types of family relationships.

JusticeNet’s submission uses the example from Re Susan where Justice Palmer noted that children can be removed permanently and adopted (removing all legal ties) from a biological parent who has sexually abused them – and makes the case that the availability of the reverse would be equitable. Their submission argues that it is a current equity issue “…if the law is not doing all it can to assist people who have been adopted to revoke the relationship with adopters in appropriate circumstances,” (JusticeNet Submission, 2015).

Equity is also an issue regarding Recommendation #4 in the findings of the Adoption Act 1988 (SA) Review – that adults can, under certain circumstances, be adopted. If non-adopted adults can sever their ancestry and be issued a new birth certificate under the requirements specified in Recommendation #4, then is it not more than equitable that an adopted adult sever the adoptive construct and revert to their original birth certificate?

The requirement of equity – that two intrinsically different forms of family be treated exactly the same in law – can unintentionally lead to consequences for the individuals involved which are unintended and inequitable.  In having regard to the important principle of equity in the treatment of one type of family when compared to another type of family, this must not take priority over a regard for equitable treatment of individuals when compared to other individuals in society.

How integrated birth certificates don’t help this group of people.

Suggestions have been made that the parents of the adopted person be named on the new birth certificate along with the adopters (instead of past practices which named the adopters only).  This does not address the issues of those who identify as the person they were born with the ancestry they had when they were born, as it does not change the fact that they remain legally severed from these people and accordingly, from these people’s (their own) ancestry. It does no more to restore ancestry than a name change by Deed Poll which still leads back to the post adoption order “birth” certificate.

Integrated/Harmonised birth certificates do not change the fact that adopted people (and their future generations) are legally bound for life and beyond death as being the descendants of the people who received the order of adoption.  Integrated/Harmonised Birth Certificates do nothing for those who identify with the identity on their true birth certificate prior to the order for adoption.

Many adopted people are happy to continue with the adopted identity, or at least to accept it, and they may find this innovation acceptable.  The availability of discharge is not for them.

How this could look.

Who can apply for this discharge?

This type of discharge should be available only to the adopted adult.  The adopter has entered into the contract and already given consent by applying for and going through the process of adoption. The legislation already recognises that the parent can seek to undo the adoption order if it was made under fraud and duress – which is the only discharge available in South Australia now, and something the adopted person cannot access even if they are aware that there was fraud and duress applied.

The adopted person is the only one who was not a party to the original contract, and so should be the only one to be able to access this type of discharge.

“Once an individual is no longer in need of the courts or their parents to make decisions on their behalf, by virtue of being no longer incompetent by reason of minority, they should, by all rights, be entitled to take over making decisions for themselves.” (Julie Kelly. Choosing Adoption. Or not. 2014)

We also believe that this type of discharge will cover cases where the adopted person cannot suffer the trauma of revisiting abuse they would be required to endure to obtain a discharge under the Special Circumstances that has been recommended in the Adoption Act 1988 Review.

Requirements to safeguard this type of discharge from an application made for improper purposes:

The wording in Recommendation #4 in the findings of the Adoption Act 1988 Review – that adults can, under certain circumstances, be adopted – would be appropriate for the requirements for the discharge of adoption. The wording would change to reflect that this is going in the opposite direction. This would also be an equitable measure: if non-adopted adults can seek to be adopted (ie sever their family relationships as adults), then it would be an equity issue if adopted adults could not do the equivalent.

Recommendation #4:  “Further, that any adult seeking adoption in this way should convince the Court, via a report from a suitably qualified professional, that they have sought professional guidance about the impact on their extended family relationships, that they are not acting under duress from another person (eg. a step parent or foster parent) and that they fully understand the full legal implications of their decision, including loss of a claim on the estate of their birth parents.” (Adoption Act Review (SA) 1988).

We would add a further requirement that – as in the case of divorce – the petition could be lodged for discharge, and the proceedings could have a year to conclude. This is considered acceptable where possible rash decisions are prevented in divorce, and could work as a buffer for similar issues in adoption.

Status after adoption order is discharged:

The discharge would only be available to an adopted adult, and the relinquishment (usually) signed by the mother was only of parental care and control. What actually severed the relation of the child (then adult) from their family was the subsequent adoption order. In many cases in the Baby Scoop Era, children were not adopted after removal, and instead of their mothers being notified, they spent their childhood in institutional and foster care. There has not ever been a question that these children (then adults) are not still related to the families they were removed from, as no adoption order was made and their birth certificates weren’t replaced. In the same way, if the adoption order is discharged, then the (now un-adopted) adult will return to their default position as a member of the family they came from with the true birth certificate they had originally.

Further implications of discharge as an adult:

Inheritance is often a major point of interest for the courts, but usually a minor concern over all the others for the adopted person. Default formulas for property division are only used when a legal will is not left. If a legal will is left the deceased can leave an inheritance to whoever they like, and a common adoptee experience has been that they often receive less or no inheritance from the adopters anyway. As above, there should be a requirement that the person have received professional advice and be aware of the legal implications of being discharged from the adoption. The professional advice will presumably include that they are also terminating any of their adoptive relative’s claims on their own possessions and estate, and also include information on authority for medical decisions and next of kin rights.

Other issues

It has been suggested that an adopted person could apply under a Special Circumstances discharge due to the trauma of their situation with regard to the welfare of the child (then adult).  We don’t feel that the intent of Special Circumstances would allow a court to make an equitable consideration of the reasons given here, especially as the discharge that has been discussed has nothing whatsoever to do with “irretrievable breakdown” of the relationships with the adopters. We also don’t want every adopted person to have to argue all of the above individually, and certainly the requirement to seek intensive therapeutic support and have extensive case management is an invasion of privacy and would equate to pathologizing something which is not abnormal.

There is also the aspect of the right to recognition in official documents and government records that is extended to other minority groups and would seem to be separate and ‘outside’ of the type of Special Circumstances discharge that has been proposed.


Australia has been a leader of the world in adoption reform. The opening of records which occurred here in the 1980’s and early 1990’s is what is still being fought for in most states of the US. When we consider that most states in the US have policies which are actually 30 years behind Australia’s adoption policies, we should be very hesitant in heeding calls to try to replicate their systems, and Associate Professor Hallahan has acknowledged this insightfully in the Review. The majority of adoption rights advocates in the US still believe that getting access to see their original birth certificates is the pinnacle of equal rights.

With the benefit of (in many aspects), 30 years of further advancement and experience of living with open records (for most), we say that it isn’t enough. Access to discharges as an adult is the logical next step in adoption if adoption is truly about the paramountcy of the welfare of the child (then adult).

Some will take this up, and as stated above, the anticipation is that this will be a small number. For some the very option will be enough: the respect given to them as adult human beings to have the equal right to agency over their lives in the same way non-adopted adults have, rather than being bound beyond death to a contract they did not consent to in the name of their ‘welfare’.

We urge you to allow this discharge to be added to the new Adoption legislation in South Australia.




Julie Kelly (julie j). 2014. Choosing Adoption. Or not.Available at: http://www.thelostdaughters.com/2014/12/choosing-adoption-or-not.html.

 Adoption Act 1988 (SA) Review

JusticeNet Submission to the Adoption Act Review (SA) 1988



I am very thankful for the gift of life, and I am very thankful for the goodness of people who help us through life. However, I live in the shadowlands of being forever banished from my bloodlines and acknowledgement of my true identity. I only found out I had been adopted when I was an adult. My first instinct was to find my original parents. Two things became very clear in that moment- I did indeed belong- I belonged to the people who gave me life. I also owed a debt of gratitude to the people who cared for me in their home. Yet the too issues must not and should not be confused. My identity was taken from me when I was adopted. I will forever live with the pain of genetic bewilderment. I am and always will be the daughter of my original parents. Wherever life takes me I will always be an Adoptee Activist. I am part of the Action Group that put this petition together. I look forward to one day having my original identity and birth records restored. It does not negate the care given to me by others , and sadly it will not give me the experiences of knowing kin that many take for granted. However, it will give me peace of mind, a sense of wrongs being made right, and most of all, hope that no one else with have to endure the existential pain of being banished forever from the very essence of their being. Both the petition and my comment are very long. So, even if for no other reason, I ask for your support into the restoration of the one and only accurate record of birth everyone is entitled to. RESTORE OUR TRUE AND LIFE AFFIRMING IDENTITY.

Nimueh Johnson, Australia

Having your birth certificate is simply a person’s right!

Denise Wallis, Sydney, Australia


I am an adopted person , I have a right to my heritage . I was stolen .

Amanda Ginger, Australia


A child’s identity should not be removed, as a person whose children has been affected by this I strongly support this petition. We have no access to medical records, which in itself is a failure of the system.

Janet Mulquiney, Australia


I have a false identity. I cannot use my (more) truthful birth certificate for legal purposes. DNA will show I have not originated from my legal family, but the law will not show where I did come from.

Margaret Redsell, Australia


Being an Adoptee have suffered this all my life!

Tracy Watson, Australia

People have the human right to have their original birth certificate (warts and all) to know who they are and their biological history. Not lies and pretending. People have and continue to be hurt by the adoption system as it is and it needs to be changed.

Michelle Govers, Brisbane, Australia


This is a crime to keep humans from their genetic line. it is a human rights breech. Adoption is trauma – there is no doubt about it and the soul does not recover until family is found


Rachelle Ferrier, Melbourne, VIC


I am an adopted person who fully supports original and truthful birth certificates.

Cheyne Bull, St Kilda, RJ


As an adoptee I have a false birth cert . I have no family tree,my greatest wish is to have my adoption annulled before I die and have my true birth cert as my own just like any non adopted Australian.

jane` potter, Gympie, QLD


adoptees have every right to have their original and true birth certificates. their true identity and family tree is very important to them. For God,s sake its 2015 what are they playing at.

Elizabeth mittermayer, Australia


I am an adoptee and I demand my birth certificate show the truth and recognise my mother who gave birth to me!!!!!

Alexander Weir, Australia


I have paid $176 to take back my birth name. My new birth certificate has my abusive adopted parent on it. Makes me feel worthless and I relive the pain every day of forced adoption. I am not a possession but a human being parented by my birth family who I was stolen from.

ciara quilkey, Australia


I’m not happy with my trail of certificates. I I was hoodwinked into changing my Name by deed poll when I was too confused to understand the legality or the knock on affect it was to have to my children’s bloodline. I took the foster families name & I don’t even know those people anymore.

Georgie Gibson, South Brisbane, Australia


Adoption is genocide, adoption removes families hertiages, as a name change has it pasted on for ever… christian crimes indorsed by anglo goverments (shameful practices)

Mark Hartley, Australia


Because I believe that a strong society starts with helping the natural family, even with all their imperfections. Helping children starts and ends with their ancestry.

Barbara Calchera, Sandy, UT


I’m an adoptee and support this initiative with all my soul!

Rhonda Baker, Kennewick, WA


I’m an adoptee and I’m tired of all the secrecy – I’ve spent most of my life searching for my biological family and have one sister I cannot find and I get no help from the government at all with information on her. She’s MY sister- we have the right to know and she has the right to know and choose to know us herself. Instead the government is making all the decisions and we have no rights.


I am an adoptee, who is affected by this unjust law. My whole life has been a complete lie and not only affects me but my children and theirs. I want this to change. I no longer have anything to do with my adoptive parents due to childhood abuse, why should I be forced to belong to a family that abused me and does not see me as their biological child anyway. I have made contact with my biological family and want my birth certificate to corrected. No more lies for any child and being forced to tell it over and over again.

Kerri Saint, Imbil, Australia


Changing a legal document should be illegal. It is also immoral

Julia Rose, Bronx, NY


I am adopted and my original birth certificate should be the legal certificate.
My second b certificate is a legal fiction.


Anthony Patterson, Australia


Lies should be illegal.

Joanne Currao, West Chester, PA


…I am now three months shy of my 60th birthday and I resent very much what my government did to me. And to millions of other adoptees. This has nothing to do with love, or loyalty, or searching for missing relatives. It has everything to do with the facts of birth and the facts of adoption.

Are we going to continue to tell lies? Or are we going to stand up to tell the truth?

I support Australia in this effort. I also support America in the same effort to abolish adoption in favor of family preservation, kinship care, guardianship, and above all, the absolute return to adoptees their right to the truth of their births — a certified copy of their sealed birth certificates, and the voiding of their falsified birth certificates. Yes, that would mean adoptees changing names back to their names at birth (if they want to). Yes, that would mean adoptive parents have a lot of adjusting to do.

Respect and dignity are due to the worlds’ adoptees.


JM Wheeler, Buffalo, NY


My sister was adopted and taken from us. This caused untold trauma to my family. Legally she is not my sister but the law cannot override our biology or our kinship. She was stolen and we want her back!

Jo Hansen, Heathmont, Australia


because the birth certificates are forgeries and those who created them are criminals and should be put in jail. Since when is fraud permitted. It never has been however it is pervasive in government and therefore all in government and its registered professions are under arrest. So says the law.

adriaan reivers, Brays Creek, Australia


I’m adopted and have been rejected now by most of my adopted family.
It took me a long time 2 find my biological family because of laws surrounding original birth certificates. I have also been rejected by my biological family…
Abolish adoption as it now stands.

KT Macri, Australia


I want all my grandparents and great grandparents birth certificates — this so 110% needed in our family

Narelle Ryan, Gold Coast, AL


I have a right to use my original birth certificate

Rebecca Scott-Heart, Balmoral Ridge, Australia


It a continuation of our grief and suffering by making is jump through hoops just to reclaim whats rightfully mine is Ludacris!

Jenna Harman, Blacktown, Australia


I am outraged that my official records deny my identity.

Marina Garrone, Australia


I would like my identity, I was robbed when they forced my mother to give me up for adoption

jackie Dunn, Bundaberg, Australia


Truth needs to be told

Fiona Thomson, Australia


I’m signing because family identity is a basic human right.

Linda Clancy, Goulburn, Australia


It a natural & normal entitlement

Lesley pearse, Australia


I’ve seen the negative impact this has had on a close friend of mine and hope that not many others suffer similar problems.

Kevin Holmes, Australia


I am an adoptee and I want to be acknowledged as who I am on my original birth certificate.My identity that was taken away from me should have been my legal certificate not the one that replaced it which is a lie which was hidden from me for 46yrs.No other person is denied their right to who they are as adoptees are.

Louise Burmester, Australia


This means so very much to so very many adopted people.

Brouss Chambers, Broadford, VIC


My mum is one of these adopted children who needs her rights fulfilled.

Claire Drake, Australia


My human right to my birth heritage has been violated. My current birth certificate was issued for me by the Australian Government and I did not and still do not have a say in the changes that were made on my behalf as a minor to my birth records. As an adult I feel it is my human right to decide if I want the original true record amended on my birth record. As an adult adoptee, why can’t I have the same human right afforded to everyone else in Australia who were not adopted and gave their original birth records?

Anne Barsby, Australia


I want for my children children to the right to know who I am and where I came from not what other graft me on to another tree !

kerri small, Australia


Because I want to be ME and future care for children should not be about changing Identity’s of children it should be about unconditional care Why is there a waiting list for people to adopt a child and change its identity and a shortage of long term carers

kay hanning, Melbourne, Australia


I am an adoptee and feel very strongly about this



we were sold like commodities and I wish to have my human rights reinstated.

ann hughes, Australia


I’m an adoptee and believe now I’m an adult I should have some say in weather I am adopted or not. I’d like my identity back.

Kelly Stephenson, Australia


I’m adopted & want to use my true birth certificate as my identification but can’t. It’s not fair!

Lesley O’Reilly, Australia


Every baby has an inalienable entitlement to its biology. They are entitled to demand their own identity, not a simulation of a birth certificate.

Belinds Henkel, Australia


I understand because I am an adoptee.

Carolann Dowding, Australia


It should be a basic human right to be able to call oneself as per your identity when you were born, if that is ones choice as an adult. It’s enough not having a choice to be adopted and having to live all your live with that.

Esther Vallejo, Australia


I did not consent.

The only other people who have their identity destroyed without their consent are slaves.

Fiona Hayward, Australia


As an adoptee I’d wish I’d never been born, how dare these decisions be made without considering us as legitimate people.

Michelle Rolph, Australia


This is how I feel as an adoptee and am grateful people are recognising our plight and even lobbying for our right to identity and family connections

Janine Hart., Australia


This has been stolen from me. I want it back.

Heather Waters, Flagstaff Hill, Australia


Truth and identity are crucial so people in our society can have opportunities to process the damage and trauma caused by adoption in a greedy individualist society to assist to heal and find peace in their lives

Megan Sharp, Australia


Although I love my adoptive family, as an adoptee myself these basic rights should now be our choice!

Christine Golbach, Australia


it is humane

terry couch, Australia


I’m adopted and I want to be who I am meant to be

kerrie mccallum, hobart, Australia


Its my human right to have my proper birth certificate – not some botched up crap that the government thought fit for me

debbie sorensen, Cedar Brush Creek, Australia


I live every day of my life wondering who I am and how easily my true self was taken from me when I discovered accidentally at 22 I was adopted and if my rights weren’t taken away from me as a baby I wouldn’t be left feeling like the first 22 years of my life was a lie and thinking I was someone I wasn’t.

Kristin tucker, Australia


to have a true birth certificate

paul connellan, Australia

I want to know who I am, and want to meet my family. I am sick of masquerading as a British Citizen born to white people when I am Aboriginal and black! I want justice. I have been trafficked and had my heritage denied me long enough.

Deborah Williams, Sydney, Australia


Adoption violates universally accepted children’s rights, as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) to which Australia is party.

Adoption treats children as commodities – chattels to be procured, owned and re-labelled.

Adoption is touted in wealthy Western countries as an act of altruism and humanitarianism to rescue children, but it is really a disguise for an ethically dubious third-party family formation method.

I’ve had enough of the deception of adoption and the inherent betrayals which continue to be inflicted upon adopted children and the adults we become.

There is no need to continue doing adoptions. There is no need to continue the legal falsification of birth certificates and identities.

Penny Mackieson, Australia