IdentityRites came into being after the National Apology for Forced Adoptions in March 2013. It is an issue-based action and peer support group for Adoptees from the Forced Adoption era, based in Adelaide, South Australia.
A number of Adoptees considered that the Apology did not address the serious consequences to the babies, of separating mother and baby at birth. The attachment of babies to their mothers, begins in utero and the separation of the infant at birth, results in lifelong trauma. Often the consequences of separation trauma are not recognised until later in life.
In 2014, with evolving membership, the focus of the group expanded to include facilitating non-traumatising opportunities for Adoptees to explore their lived experience. IdentityRites is planning a year-long program of structured workshops to enable Adoptees to tell their stories using various creative modalities, to commence in 2015. The book of poetry and prose, 'Adopted' which was launched in 2017, was the result of workshops during 2015.
The group consists of members who have diverse experiences, including people adopted at birth, or after institutionalisation or foster care; people who knew they were adopted from an early age and others who were ‘late discoverers’. Members have a broad range of life experiences. Some of us chose to be childless, others had a child of their own placed for adoption, and others of us have muddled through motherhood – some with awareness that our own adoption experiences influenced the choices we made, and others of us are still making the connections.
Many of us have problems sustaining lasting relationships. The impacts of adoption appear to be more obvious as we get older. Life events such as the death of one or other of our adoptive parents have given some members the freedom to explore their own stories when they no longer feel obligated to the family who adopted them. Some have found their birth families, others have not; finding or not finding your family can result in enormous new experiences of loss and grief.
The lack of knowledge of, and appropriate treatment for, the real consequences to Adoptees within the therapeutic community and government agencies, and the appearance of online sites offering quick fixes to Adoptees, concerns us. We would like to offer support to those who are beginning their own journeys of healing, as well as educating the wider community as to the hidden isolation and despair that Adoptees face as adults.
IdentityRites is currently co-facilitated by Sofie Gregory and Di Saunders.