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Belonging and Racial Identity for Late Discovery Adoptee Peter Capomolla Moore - Ep 115

Unraveling Adoption

Release Date: 10/16/2023

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Belonging and Racial Identity for Late Discovery Adoptee Peter Capomolla Moore

Access a written transcript here, in case you have trouble understanding Peter's lovely Australian accent: https://tinyurl.com/yc8mfcjk

"It's important for adoptees to understand and embrace their racial identity and sense of belonging. We must challenge the labels we are given and create our own narratives." - Peter Capomolla Moore

Have you ever heard these myths about the significance of racial identity and belonging for adoptees? Myth #1: Adoptees don't need to worry about race because love is all that matters. Myth #2: Adopting a child from a different race erases their racial identity. Myth #3: Talking about race with adoptees will make them feel different and uncomfortable. In this episode, our guest Peter Capomolla Moore will debunk these myths and shed light on his own truth.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Gain insight into the unique experiences and challenges faced by adoptees when it comes to embracing their racial identity and how it shapes their sense of self.

  • Uncover hidden truths through DNA testing: Learn about the role of DNA testing in unraveling family history and uncovering hidden connections, bridging the gap between adoptees and their biological origins.

  • Navigate the unique emotional and psychological challenges faced by adoptees who discover their adoption later in life, and explore strategies for healing and finding acceptance.

  • Learn about the importance of advocating for adoptee rights, understanding the legal and societal barriers that adoptees may face, and how to navigate the adoption system effectively.

My special guest is Peter Capomolla Moore

Peter Capomolla Moore is an Australian late discovery adoptee who has made significant strides in advocating for adoptee rights. As the president of Adoptee Rights Australia, Peter has fought tirelessly for the right of adoptees to obtain their own original birth certificate. He recently won a fight to have his birth father's name added to his original birth certificate, a battle that spanned six years. What sets Peter's story apart is the discovery, later in life, that he has Aboriginal heritage, leading him on a profound journey of cultural integration. With his unique background and personal experiences, Peter brings a valuable perspective to the conversation on the significance of racial identity and belonging for adoptees. His dedication to helping other adoptees navigate their own journeys is truly inspiring.


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The resources mentioned in this episode are:

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Cover photo credit: Renee Lydiard from Nikinpa Aboriginal Child and Family Centre

Unraveling Adoption is produced and hosted by Beth Syverson

Music written and performed by Joseph Nakao

Email questions or comments to [email protected]

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Uncover hidden truths
It's essential for adoptees to unearth their origins and discover hidden truths about their past. These revelations, such as genetic history or familial connections, can play a significant role in their developmental and emotional journey. Knowing one's beginnings brings a sense of grounding and can lead to a greater understanding of one's identity and personal narrative.

Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:01:28 - Land Acknowledgement,
Peter Capomolla Moore starts with a traditional acknowledgement to country, recognizing the Aboriginal land they stand on and honoring the culture and customs of the traditional owners.

00:03:05 - Upbringing and Adoption Discovery,
Peter describes his upbringing as a foster child in a stable but modest family. He shares his journey of discovering his adoption in 2017 through a DNA test, which led him to uncover the truth about his biological family.

00:06:11 - DNA Matches and Family Tree,
Peter explains how he initially did the DNA test to understand his grandchildren's olive skin complexion but ended up finding a close DNA match. He delves into his confusion regarding the relationships and surnames in his DNA matches, which ultimately led him to realize he was adopted.

00:08:26 - Forced Adoption and Government Apology,
Peter discovers that he was born in a Salvation Army hospital associated with forced adoptions in Australia. He discusses the government apology in 2013 and the dark history of forced adoption, trafficking, and trauma associated with it.

00:13:36 - Discovering the Truth,
The guest shares their experience of finding out about their birth parents and the surprising revelation that their mother had known about their existence for only three weeks. They also mention how a family friend who worked at the hospital gave their birth mother their name.

00:14:26 - Reconnecting,
Peter explains how they were able to get in touch with their birth mother through their brother. They talk about the emotional conversation they had with their mother, who expressed that she was forced to give them up for adoption.

00:15:18 - Forced Adoption,
Peter clarifies that his trauma is adoption, while forced adoption is their mother's trauma. They emphasize the importance of distinguishing between the two and highlight the horrific experiences of forced adoption, including drugging women during childbirth.

00:16:05 - Loss and Reunion,
The guest sadly reveals that their birth mother passed away in October of the previous year. They express the significance of being there for her in her final weeks. They also mention the Aboriginal heritage on their birth mother's side of the family.

00:19:39 - Aboriginal Identity,
Peter discusses the three-part definition of being considered Aboriginal in Australia: descent, self-identification, and acceptance by the Aboriginal community. They emphasize that color does not define race and share their own experience of embracing their Aboriginal heritage.

00:27:37 - Introduction to the New Form
The guest explains that there is a new birth certificate form that hasn't been approved yet, but the register knows about it. They discuss the options on the form, including whether to have the information on the original birth certificate or the integrated birth certificate.

00:28:20 - Concerns about the Integrated Birth Certificate
The guest expresses their dislike for the integrated birth certificate, which includes the names of adoptive parents. They believe that while it may be suitable for current adoptees, it shouldn't be used for future adoptions. They emphasize the importance of truth and accuracy in adoption records.

00:29:45 - Issues with Promised Information on Birth Certificates
The guest shares their concerns about the information included on birth certificates. They explain that many adoptees have been disappointed to find that the promised information, such as their father's name, is not actually included. This highlights the need for further improvements in adoption documentation.

00:30:19 - Challenges Faced by Adoptees
Peter discusses the burdens placed on adoptees, particularly when it comes to changing their names on birth certificates. They express their empathy for adoptees and their desire to make the process easier for them.

00:32:07 - Involvement in Aboriginal Culture
Peter shares his experience of getting involved in his Aboriginal culture. He explains how they received confirmation of their Aboriginal heritage and were invited to be an elder in the community. They discuss their role as an advocate for his culture in schools.

00:41:58 - Embracing Cultural Heritage,
The importance of openness and embracing one's cultural heritage, regardless of whether it is good or bad, is highlighted. It is emphasized that medical history is especially vital.

00:42:14 - Personal Medical Condition,
Peter shares his personal experience with a genetic condition in his leg called Popliteal entrapment syndrome. He almost lost his leg but was fortunate to have his adopted sister, a doctor, overseeing his treatment.

00:43:02 - Importance of Communication,
The pain caused by Peter's adoptive parents not being open about medical histories is acknowledged. It is stressed that adoptive parents need to communicate with their children and not delay sharing important information.

00:43:45 - Embracing the Journey,
The guest expresses that he would not turn back the clock on his adoption journey, as it has led to personal growth and meaningful experiences. It is implied that there is a reason for his survival.