… is that he’s married to Deborra-Lee Furness, the woman the Australian Melbourne Weekly describes as “film actress and fierce adoption campaigner.” Deborra-Lee Furness and Hugh Jackman are adoptive parents to two children born in the United States–Oscar, age 10; and Ava, age 5. In November 2010, Furness organized a summit in New York, Forgotten Children: International Adoption and the Orphan Crisis, featuring leaders in the field such as Dr. Jane Aronson, Ethiopian pediatrician Dr. Sophie Mengistu, and filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem (In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee).
In this profile, titled Deborra-Lee Furness: Leading the Charge, the Melbourne Weekly writes:
Actress Deborra-Lee Furness is leading the charge to change Australia’s ‘‘anti-adoption culture.’’ … She’s only been in Melbourne for a few days and an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report into local adoption rates was released this morning… While the disturbing statistics such as a 21-fold decrease in adoptions in Australia since the early 1970s are nothing new for the long-time campaigner, Furness is still furious about the personal stories of excruciating red tape and bureaucratic decisions.
After miscarriages and failed IVF attempts, Furness and Jackman adopted two children in the U.S. Furness says the kids are just sensational. “They are well travelled. Oscar is very artistic and Ava wants to be a rock star – so at least they are in the arts, which is good!”
While Furness is happy to speak candidly albeit briefly about her own brood, it’s the issue of other adopted children that really fires her up. Having founded Adoption Awareness Week in Australia in 2008, Furness recently hosted an adoption summit in New York where she pulled together the “rock stars of the field.” Together with editor of the Daily Beast news website Tina Brown, Furness invited representatives from UNICEF, Harvard, Worldwide Orphans Foundation and politicians to talk about the orphan crisis.
Furness insists that she is not pro-adoption (“I wish every child could stay with their family, but that’s not the world that we live in”), but she gets extremely frustrated with Australia’s “anti-adoption culture” which makes inter-country adoption near impossible. Of the 40,000 inter-country adoptions worldwide in 2009, only 270 were Australian. A four- to seven-year wait is the minimum for most local couples, with many having to wait up to 10 years. Most invest a huge amount of money and emotion and for some, the process takes so long that they miss out completely.
“This is a huge, huge crisis and these kids aren’t part of it,” Furness says. “They aren’t voters, there is no agenda for the politicians but I do think you judge a country by the way they treat their children and it is embarrassing. I am out there on the international stage and we are the lowest in the world as far as inter-country adoption… I have been talking to the attorney-general and trying to speed it up, but it needs leadership – people who understand the situation and how complex it is.”
Finally, the article concludes:
Like all working mums, Furness admits it is difficult to juggle her campaigning, acting career and family, but says it’s the injustice of the adoption situation that keeps her going.
Long may she wave.