Adoption is complex

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It’s hard to explain the feeling of knowing that your mother is probably alive and exists somewhere in this world but not knowing where or if and when you will ever see her again. This is the feeling that plagued me every day from the age of 13. I remember that there were thoughts and questions about my mother prior to the age of 13 but the attached feelings were not as intense in my pre-adolescent mind.
I was in foster care for 10 weeks prior to being adopted. My adoptive mother cared for me for the first three years of my life. My Grandma told me about how I ‘changed’ around the time Mum returned to work. She said that I kept my distance and would pull away from physical touch. Knowing what I now know about attachment, I suspect that Mum returning to work was experienced as a traumatic loss to three year old me. This was the third separation from a mother-figure, which may have led to the deep-seated belief that I continues to affect me - that it is best to count on myself. Closeness is synonomous with danger and can lead to great pain.
Adoption was rarely mentioned throughout my childhood, but I perceived a sense of awkwardness in my parents each time it was. I became very anxious about this topic and did not feel that I could raise it or talk to my parents about my feelings questions surrounding my identity.
I also felt a sense of loneliness as I was an only child. My adoptive parents would have loved to have adopted another child, however were considered 'too old'. They had been on a waiting list for 5 years to adopt me.
When I was 15 I was given a letter that each of my birth parents had written at the time of my birth. I suddenly felt more grounded on this earth, more confident in myself and I began thinking about my future goals and aspirations. I decided that I wanted to become a counsellor.
The letters urged me to find my birth parents if I wanted to when I turned 18. So, I did. My birth parents had married three years after my birth and I found out that I had a brother and a sister. I am thankful that my adoptive parents were supportive of my reunion, as I am grateful that my birth parents and siblings wanted to get to know me.
However, our reunion journey over the last 13 years has been complex and painful at times. The adoption loss has affected my birth mother deeply. I suspect it has affected my birth father too. We can never get back the years that we missed out on. My siblings and I are similiar in ways, but have had very different life experiences that prevent me from being as close to them as I'd wish at times.
Being 'older parents' as many adoptive parents were, my parents passed away when I was 26 & 27. I continue to miss their parental guidance and my relationship with my birth parents is not the same.
I now work as a Social Worker helping others who are affected by adoption. I find this rewarding but know that I am living a very different life to the one I would be living without adoption's influence.


I was adopted in 1987, well after the peak of the Forced Adoption Era. Though, when I hear my birthmother's account, I hear many of the themes outlined in the senate inquiry. Coercion from family, being told that if she loved me she'd give me to a married couple. Her consent was not fully informed.