Michael McMahon

“The removal of children from serious threat in family of origin is acknowledged, but not a defence of  the use of the term My Forever Family – which causes additional and unnecessary harm.”

The use of the term Forever Family is disrespectful to adoptees and misleading to children adopted under this program. 

The term discounts the fact of biological families, which stretch back “forever”, and suggests adoptive families are permanent. Adoption can be ended by adopters at any time or by adoptees upon adulthood. The term wrongly implies a child is forever part of their adoptive family, which in the case of marriage breakdown, family violence or parental death etc, is not guaranteed. Members of the adoptive extended family are not signatories to an adoption and the child has no legal or biological relationship with them except through the adoptive parent. The child as an adult also has the right to cease the adoption via court, which this term implies is not or should not be the case.

The term My Forever Family disrespects relinquishing mothers, especially those who have reunited with their child and read this term in the media. For current adoptees who have achieved reunion and live with two unrelated families in their lives, this term can be distressing. Clearly reunion or ongoing contact through open adoption, contradict the claim that a child has one ‘forever’ family. Open adoption can connect biological and adoptive families, but this is rarely successful and the biological family has no legal rights or responsibilities in relation to the child.

The use of the pronoun ‘My’ is deceptive. It implies the child has a choice and that the child has some action in the adoption. This is not to say that the child may not be happy being adopted. However self-blame is a recognised response by children to trauma and adoptees should not carry any implied responsibility for the actions of others. ‘Our Forever Child’ would be more accurate as this program is focussed on the legal taking of another’s child.

Most citizens experience their biological family as a Forever Family, without a second thought. The implication that an adopted child has a normal family life just like everyone else is irresponsible. The trauma of maternal/family separation, the developmental impacts of growing up as adopted, the stigma of adoption, the psychological impacts of the absence of genetic related family, and the impacts of reunion are well evidenced in the research literature. Research and best practice also support adoptees integrating the facts of their conception, early childhood, adoption and reunion into their identity, including undertaking difficult grief work. Your Government funds programs to enable reunion and support adoptees manage the trauma sustained through adoption.

Finally, Adoption extinguishes a child’s born identity and is very difficult psychologically and legally to reverse as an adult. All adoptees birth certificates are a legal lie, recording the adoptive parents as the child’s biological parents. Current research is showing that inherited DNA is the major factor in determining identity, behaviour and potential – not nurture. There are viable alternatives to permanent ‘Forever Family’ adoption that provide children with a home and guidance until adulthood while retaining the facts of their birth and biological identity. Keeping real families together FOREVER should be an equal if not greater priority of your Government than fast tracking a last-resort solution such as adoption.
M. McMahon

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