A regional initiative using DNA to find answers about original family and identity

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Everyone has the right to know who they are and where they come from. These are essential characteristics for our identity formation and having a clear sense of belonging. It is natural for people affected by adoption, whether having lost either a parent or a child, to seek information about themselves or family members from whom they were separated at birth. For many, finding personal information is often difficult as they have to overcome several hurdles including cost, vetoes, the inaccessibility or inaccuracy of records or in some cases when family members deliberately withhold the information.

To support the need to know one’s origins and offset some of the obstacles mentioned above, we are leading a group of regional Australian mothers and adoptees, who have been impacted by adoption practices from the 1940s onwards, into exploring DNA testing as a way of finding answers to personal information.

Together we have established Within These Walls, currently a self-funded, not-for-profit organisation, with Senator Rachel Siewert, the Chairperson of the recent Senate Enquiry into Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, as our patron.

The title of our organisation symbolises the ‘wall of silence’ mothers have had to endure as a consequence of the ‘clean-break’ practices and secrecy surrounding adoption, with their only direction to ‘forget your child, and get on with your life’. For adoptees, the ‘wall’ marks a place beyond which they could not go when stripped of their original identity and family lineage. Within These Walls is therefore a metaphor for those affected; a haven, a place to meet, a sanctuary to help each other, to find a trail to our lost family and loved ones, and a place to share tears and laughter, and through it all, have a little fun.


The purpose of Within These Walls is to encourage, enhance and nurture the process of uniting the parents and children who have been touched by adoption

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