Elmo Learns About Adoption

Deborra-lee Furness, the patron of National Adoption Awareness Week in Australia, talks to Elmo from Sesame Street about adoption.

National Adoption Awareness Week (NAAW) is a series of community based events exploring the process of adoption, and the journeys of all people touched by adoption, locally and internationally.

NAAW was launched in Australia in 2008. Due to its success, it will be held annually in November and will coincide with adoption awareness around the world. NAAW 2010 will be held from 8th to 14th November.

NAAW aims to acknowledge and learn from all adoption-related journeys and experiences. It creates opportunities for open, honest and ongoing dialogue between all parties to adoption, to increase awareness of its complexities, challenges and opportunities.

A more informed and constructive attitude to adoption will flow through to policy-making, support services and education, and will help Australia work towards a more positive adoption environment.


6 thoughts on “Elmo Learns About Adoption

  1. I didn’t realize you were an adoptee, that makes more sense now why you are so open to all sides. You have such a lovely gentle energy. I’m so sorry about what happened to you that’s just wrong. My father was a drunk too so you have my empathy about that as well. That must have been a huge shock hearing that as a 12 year old, especially being told in that way.

    I know about the stolen generation, I also saw the documentary “Lousy Little Sixpence” it broke my heart.

    Australia has come such a long way with adoption. It used to be very coercive and dismissive of mothers and now it’s very promoting of family preservation. This is why I get upset about that Deborah Lee woman.

    I think adoption can be a good thing sometimes but more as a last resort, all other avenues ought to be actively pursued, supporting extended family, in family adoption, guardianship within the country of origin and if international adoption then very very open with a lot of contact.

  2. not annoying at all.

    there is definitely a loss aspect of adoption – what Nancy Verrier calls the primal wound (in the case of children) and the grief and loss of a birth parent / grand parent / extended family.
    I can see how the Elmo thing might come across as disregarding that, but it is only meant to address the children and encourage them to not feel blighted about being adopted.

    that said, not all adoptions have been (or are) handled well. Australia has a particularly disgusting history of stealing children from indigenous people and “adopting” them out to white people. What’s worse is that many of those involved in this were church groups – i.e. those who are supposed to be supporting and defending women, single mums and children.
    In my own case I didn’t find out I was adopted until I was 12 and then it was through the drunken rant of my father (a-dad). Back then there was a culture of shame and silence about adoption and having children out of wedlock etc – but the news was devastating to me. That, for me, is a great example of how not to handle adopting.

    so I’m not being dismissive – just showing that there are many facets of adoption.
    when done properly adoption is a means to provide a family for children unable to be cared and nurtured by their original family.

    What I would like to see is improvements to our processes to ensure this is done compassionately and with regard to all parties involved (where possible). I know there are still a lot of naive a-parents (& prospectives) that want to sanitize and sugar coat everything so they look like the great white hope rescuing the 3rd world orphans – that needs to stop. But I don’t think abandoning adoption as a means to provide a child with a family is the way to go.

    I don’t mind at all having you comment, as my readers need to see there are complexities to this and they need to be aware and prepared to engage with the pain experienced as well as the “yay” moments.

  3. I don’t entirely disagree and I am of course open to you having a different perspective. Adoption is complex and for some people it’s something that makes them happy.

    That said, it occurs to me that not all adopted people clap their hands with joy and shout “yay yipee” about having lost their first family. It makes me feel uncomfortable that the loss side of adoption is completely ignored.

    This way of looking at adoption, the yipee isn’t it wonderful attitude means that people like me are shunted away and told to be quiet. We are spoiling it for everyone else.

    So for that reason alone I can’t clap along with the puppet and cry out with joy. I’m not going to tell you not to do that, perhaps for you adoption is a hand clapping experience.

    Deborah Lee Furness has never been open to dialogue with natural mothers who speak of loss with adoption. I *do* wish she was busy with her acting career rather than trying to bring as many children as possible over to Australia from poorer countries.

    I can’t even bring myself to try to respect that woman. If it’s ok with you can we just agree to disagree on this one?

    1. p.s. if you rather I didn’t make comments here I would respect that and leave you be. I can imagine it might be annoying that I am here saying ugh at adoption.

  4. I don’t think there’s any need to make disparaging remarks about Deborrah-lee’s career. She spends most of her working time with NGO’s by choice. This involves supporting all parties involved in adoption and crisis care not people “help[ing] themselves to the children”.

    Going on a children’s show is very important as it helps educate other children about adoption and removes the perceived stigma of being adopted. Adopted kids are frequently maligned and discriminated against – surely that is that something you agree needs to stop?

    By incorporating adoption language into everyone’s discussions it helps remove the stigma and opens the topic up for everyone – birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents.

    As mentioned on the website “NAAW also aims to explore ways of better supporting birth parents, young and adult adoptees, and our existing and future adoptive families.”

  5. That woman is trying to take Australia backwards, I wish she could have had a better acting career so that she’d stop giving all her energy to this. If she really wanted to help then she’d focus on the families that are in desperate need of support rather than just want people to help themselves to the chidren.
    I’m ok with “real” orphans being adopted after all avenues of support for extended family have been explored and after adoption within the child’s own country has also been attempted. Many of the children are not orphans and almost all of them have some family.
    Going on to a children’s show to promote adoption isn’t something I am happy about.
    That woman has never been open to dialogue with natural mothers, I cannot say that I have any respect for her.

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