Greek, Actually: Disentangling Adoption Deceptions
Penny Zagarelou-Mackieson always knew she was adopted. But she didn’t know she was swapped at birth. After a lifetime grappling with issues of identity and belonging, outlined in her earlier book Adoption Deception, Penny discovered that her natural mother, according to her adoption records, is genetically unrelated to her. Penny’s family reunion of two decades was based on falsehoods. Her ancestry is Greek, not Celtic-Anglo as she was led to believe.
So begins Penny’s new quest to learn about her origins. She confronts a shocking legacy of babies misidentified in the heyday of Australia’s forced and closed adoptions and appalling medical record-keeping – meaning many adoptees may never know their true origins.
Penny’s quest leads her to court seeking legal recognition of her true identity, involving her ‘de-adoption’ – termination of the Adoption Order imposed on her in infancy.
This remarkable story of one woman’s determination to uncover the truth and restore her dignity reveals human rights violations inherent in adoption. Penny questions continuing laws and practices that cement stigmatising secrecy and harm adopted people, arguing for wide-reaching reforms.
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Penny Zagarelou-Mackieson is an Australian author who was adopted as a newborn in 1963 and ‘de-adopted’ in 2022. Penny lives with her partner and their adult son in inner Melbourne.