Let me share why I felt this book was so important when I first suggested it to PARC (NSW Post Adoption Resource Centre, Benevolent Society) and to DSS (Australian Federal Government Department of Social Services). Currently there are very few resources available to help people understand longitudinally, past adolescent years, how intercountry adoptees journey over time. What happens once we leave our adoptive family nest and become independent? How do we navigate dating, parenthood, the ongoing challenge of developing our identities, the death of our adoptive or biological parents, post reunion … and all the issues we face in adult life? This book’s purpose was to begin filling the void in literature, research, and general knowledge.
I want to start by thanking the contributors, the adoptees in this book for sharing their souls and being so raw and honest! Your efforts will help educate the wider public about the complexities involved and provide a much needed resource for those directly affected.
For me, you are what everything is all about! All I do in ICAV is with the aim of empowering individual adoptees to speak up and connect into the wider community of intercountry adoptees and professional support systems – and to come thru’ our adoption journey as positively as possible!
This is because I’ve never forgotten the thrill I had in my mid 20s when I first met other intercountry adoptees and realised I wasn’t alone and isolated. The mirroring I lacked within my family who racially looked so different from me, was provided for in some small way, when I met other intercountry adoptees and connected and shared our experiences.
This project has consumed over 250 hours of work from me alone, not to mention the uncounted hours by Damon and his team, and the hours spent by the professionals we contracted to help us deliver this amazing book – Analee Gale (editor), Jack Lee (layout design), Kerri Long (graphic design front/back cover) and Doug Conroy (printer).
I want to personally thank :
- De Benevolent Society PARC & Federation Press for the first book and giving us the copyright permission to do this sequel.
- Sarah Armstrong is here today .. and I can now say I realise how much work must have gone into that first book!
- ISS Australia for such positive partnering and engaging me as their project manager for the book and putting up with me, with all my strengths and flaws!
- Australian Federal Government Department of Social Services (DSS) (specifically Judi, Stephen, Flora & DSS team) for listening to my suggestion and providing the funding for this amazing book which will be a powerful resource for years to come!
- ICAV Reps I ask them to please stand up so the audience can see who you are.
(Anna Kopeikin for QLD, Sharna Ciottia and Kayla Curtis for SA, Leanne Tololeski for WA, SueYen for VIC, Gabby Malpas and Gabbie Beckley for NSW).
These ladies and the others who could not make it today, have been working for years behind the scenes to support adoptees and make ICAV what it is today. Thank you!
- And most importantly, my husband Anthony who has been my rock and supported me endlessly through out this project, plus all the other hours I spend reaching out to adoptees and working in the community.
For me, the project has been what I could only describe as “FULL ON!”
I think it was Damon at our second meeting who looked at me like I was crazy when I talked about getting this book done and published by June!
The sheer workload, the milestones, coordinating amongst so many contributors and partners, keeping things on track, communicating to everyone, and the multiple times of editing and re-editing! It’s fair to say, after I finished this project, I did not want to edit another document (for at least a month)!
Three things stand out in my mind as the best memories I take with me from this project:
Firstly, reconnecting in with the original contributors .. to hear how they were going after 15 years and reignite those friendships, to learn of the highs and lows and continuations of their journeys has been my privilege – which you in the audience will all gain once you read the new book.
Secondly, connecting into the younger generation has been eye opening and I’ve loved it .. hearing them share their journeys and realising the impact on them; coming from a generation of adoptive parents and professionals who better understand the adoption journey by embracing our cultural origins early, taking us back to our countries of birth, acknowledging that it is a normal part of the adoption journey to search & reunite if we wish; I have definitely witnessed an improvement in the support provided for adopted children and adults and this has been awesome and encouraging!
This is not to gloss over adoption or to even discuss the ethics of intercountry adoption .. because we still have hugely challenging issues to address: for example, the need for lifelong mental health support; reparative justice for those who were trafficked or lost; these two examples alone highlight the struggles we face to ensure the most positive outcomes of intercountry adoption can become a possibility.
I love to hear adoptees sharing about their experiences and I’m constantly amazed at the resilience they possess to face their journeys and battle on. It is for those who struggle at some point in their journey, that this book is for – so adoptees can realise they do not have to be alone and that there is a whole community out here who they can tap into and connect with. That community is made up of adoptees, professionals who support us, our adoptive families, and our governments (state and federal) who facilitate our adoptions and provide important pre & post adoption supports.
Australia is a lucky country and I am blessed to have been adopted here. Knowing what barriers other intercountry adoptees face around the world in obtaining support for their journey, I am glad I was adopted to this country. I am privileged to have been a part of advocating for positive changes that empower intercountry adoptees in Australia – such as the free ISS Australia Search n Reunification service, and the free LifeWorks Counselling service. These services empower us adoptees, for which we are thankful!
Third and lastly, it has been my absolute pleasure to have worked with such a wonderful and positive group of professionals through out this project – the teams at Fed Gov DSS, ISS Australia and Benevolent Society PARC. Knowing how much you have embraced our voices as adoptees has been empowering and liberating! This book is a testament to the passion these professionals have for ensuring our adoptee journey’s turn out as positively as possible, within limitations.
Perhaps one day in another 15 years or so .. we might all be standing here again to hear from the next generations of adult intercountry adoptees! We have paved the way.
23 June 2017, 11am – 1pm; Sydney, Australia
Note: Unfortunately Australian Federal Government DSS was not able to attend the launch due to fog in Canberra with all planes grounded, not able to take off.