My son's body was covered in burns from cigarettes, he was one of 600,000 orphans in Burundi when I adopted him. Aussie mum.
One of our readers Carolyn was moved to write to me about her son, Eric. That's Eric in his dad's arms, the day his parents picked him up from the orphanage in Burundi. Here's Carolyn's note:
I have a cocktail of emotions in me right now, mainly sadness and extreme anger.
I was looking at your site this evening as I always do when I came across the photos of your ‘Fair Dinkum Refugees’. I have a little boy from Burundi, he is the only Burundian adoptee in Australia, I fought tooth and nail with the Queensland state government to get him, or should I say, "a little boy" which is what he was known as when we first started.
The process took 6.5 years, there was no particular little boy, it was the most stressful and emotional fight of my life. The Department of Child Safety here did everything in their power to prevent this little 3.5 year old from coming here as our adopted son.
Eric arrived here grossly underweight and undersized. He was sick with malaria, conjunctivitis, a badly infected ear which had to be operated on to rebuild his eardrum and a body covered in burns from cigarettes.
Eric was one of 600,000 orphans in Burundi.
For the first few years he was with us I constantly lobbied the Federal Attorney General to set up a program for adoption between Australia and Burundi. It would have been a fairly simple task as Burundi meets all of the requirements for Australia to have a program with them; they are signatories to the Hague Convention but all to no avail, the doors were shut tight. The reasons given by Robert McClelland were many and varied but I remember one of them - that there were not enough orphans in Burundi!!!!!!!
I have now left my fight on the back burner until we have a change of government.
Then we see these illegal immigrants coming into our country, burning down the accommodation we provide for them, demanding to be treated like royalty, many of whom I would imagine are national service dodgers it just makes me very, very angry.
(The photo at the top of this page is Eric on) the day we picked him up at the orphanage in Burundi. Here he is now 5 years later. Where is the justice?
(Eric taken at a Skirmish Park where the boys celebrated Zachary's birthday in the best traditions of 8 year old Aussie lads - a game of goodies and baddies! In my day it wasn't quite as sophisticated with the sound effects coming from our lungs!!)
It's not too difficult to google Carolyn and her family and to see what they've been through. Carolyn has followed the Churchillian principle for winning - never give up. She's knocked down elaborate hurdles constructed by experts.
Australia has too many families who long for children to love. The world has too many children who long for a family. The tragedy of a possibly well-meaning bureaucracy adding-value by intervening doesn't bear thinking about. Can it be that hard? Only if they want it to be.
Carolyn won. And so did Australia. Eric has been here growing up as part of Carolyn's family. That means Australia has a great little citizen growing up as part of us - with Aussie mates, acquiring Australian values, in the English language, and all the while inculcating an appreciation of the rhyme and reason of Australia laws and cultural norms.
If times turn tough for Eric and he feels the mixture of emotions that so often bring drama to young men - he'll have an extended Australian family network and people here to turn to. People who love him.
I think we could tilt our humanitarian intake towards the needs of orphaned children over the needs of Entitled Attitudes from "Ordinateurs Portables sans Passeport" (the organisation locally known as those bearing "Laptops without Passports").
Eric probably agrees. Here's his smiley face to prove it!