Speech for the Opening Book Launch: The Colour of Difference
Hi .. for those of you who don’t know me .. my name is Lynelle Beveridge. I am an intercountry adoptee from Vietnam and I was adopted to Australia at the age of 6months. My story is in The Color of Difference and upon completion of handing in the stories for the book, I founded the InterCountry Adoptee Support Network (ICASN) in 1998 to build upon the newfound friendships and sense of community that we’d made.
When I first received my copies of The Colour of Difference in the mail, I felt a range of emotions:
Firstly, Excitement – because after waiting for 2 years .. the end result was finally here! Then I felt Scared – because I realised that my story, along with the other 26 adoptees, was now very public and exposed and I faced the fear of “what if people reject my feelings and deny the reality of my experience”?
I also felt Proud – proud that we had finally found our voice to speak out and share with others the experience of adoption from a viewpoint that has until now been fairly silent; and that despite the innate fear of rejection and the fear of exposing ourselves at our very core – we have found the courage and strength to stand up and speak.
Another conflicting emotion was Sadness – that for all the years prior to this … adoptees had to experience their journey in isolation when all along that isolation wasn’t necessary.
My final emotion was Joy – to know that we had done something positive and concrete so that isolation no longer had to be the case for future adoptees.
The reasons why I wrote my story ..
To reduce the feelings of isolation for myself and for other adoptees
To share on a very real and open/honest level what the issues are as I’ve experienced them
To reach out and help form a community .. a place of belonging for myself and for others like me
To give hope to all those involved in adoption that we can learn from the past to improve adoption for all involved in the future
To demonstrate there is light at the end of the tunnel .. that the pain of loss, the confusion of identity, the feelings of being in-between two worlds, the cruel injustice of racism, the conflicting emotions around the concepts of gratefulness, the not knowing and trying to move on, the sadness and the anger – all of these emotions and more won’t always sting so sharply – there are ways to becoming whole and at peace … there is no guaranteed foolproof recipe – but we can begin to make a difference by providing genuine support, understanding and acceptance … which in turn translates into positive actions and outcomes.
As a result of the book, I have put my efforts into creating ICASN … a network for intercountry adoptees by intercountry adoptees …
Personally, ICASN has provided me a concrete and active means in which I can demonstrate the support, understanding, and acceptance that I offer to those involved in adoption.
My goals for ICASN ..
To create a safe place for adoptees to express and explore their issues and to gain encouragement and support for their journey
To reach out to and liaise with those directly impacted by adoption (eg. adoptive parents, birth parents, siblings) to create a better understanding of the other
To create awareness in the greater community of the issues of inter-country adoption and dispel the ignorance that has attributed to the not-so-positive aspects of inter-country adoption
What I find rewarding about the work I do for ICASN is the priviledge to see and be a part of the changes in adoptee’s lives as they face their issues. To read comments like “I have sat here and burst into tears of happiness just to know that there are other people like me!!”
Many of the adoptees in ICASN are a major part of my inspiration to continue on with my vision. I have seen the amazing way in which these adoptees have developed. The changes in self esteem and confidence, the courage to try new ways to relate to their adoptive parents, the willingness to face the most hurtful and fearful issues, and the ability to courageously embrace the vulnerability of reaching out to others.
We were a hidden minority .. and we have found our voice!
We are the first generation en masse of intercountry adoptees to grow up and speak about what adoption is like in Australia.
We are paving the way for generations of future adoptees into Australia.
We are here to communicate with those involved in adoption whether they be parents, social workers, policy makers, counsellors, friends, or family.
We are not here to blame or point fingers but to inspire active enthusiasm for embracing the newfound voices of our generation and to allow them to feel heard.
We approach a challenging issue with a positive attitude.
We are learning how to become more open, humane, understanding, and able to give & receive more fully.
We are becoming all that we were meant to be despite the obstacles life has thrown at us.
I am proud today to be here today and to be a part of what I believe has been a valuable contribution to adoption in Australia.
I want to personally thank:
PARC & the Benevolent Society for hosting today and funding & organising this project,
Sarah & Petrina for your ongoing enthusiasm, never ending commitment, amazing understanding and insight into the issues, for organising so many things like our get togethers & cooking meals to feed us, for organising & giving us the opportunity for media interviews & radio talkbacks, and for the amazing value that your introduction gives to the book.
Natascha & Martha for giving your time to interview, edit, and collate our stories with such sensitivity and understanding
Adoptees who contributed to the book – without your courageous honesty we would not be here today.
I would also like to thank the following:
the adoptees who have since become part of ICASN – you are like family to me
the adoptees who have taken on leadership roles within ICASN (Kym Stephens, Kim Oxenbridge, Indigo Williams, Cameron Sinclair, Jennifer Szetho, Dario Falzon, Bev Reweti) – your enthusiasm and initiative makes ICASN what it is today
Mary Griffin & Craig Moore from DoCS – your efforts to hear our voices and work with us to change policy to improve adoption today is inspiring
to the adoptive parents groups & adoptive parents eg Ricky Brisson, the Robertsons, the Whittingtons & many others who have written to me – my thanks for your encouragement & support and I look forward to working together more in the future
and finally to all my friends and family (esp Michael & Ingrid) for attending today and who have been a valuable support to me in my own journey.