Deborra-Lee Furness, Child Advocate and Angel in Adoption


Deborra-Lee Furness describes herself as not just an orphan advocate, but a child advocate. Alongside her husband Hugh Jackman, and others like Angelina Jolie and Katherine Heigl, these celebrities are using their status as a platform to advocate for children and orphans around the world, and are bringing awareness to the need for adoption.

Both natives to Australia, Furness and Jackman met on set while filming Australian TV series "Correlli" in 1995 and were married the next year. They both have been very open about their plans for having a family. Jackman shared, “To be clear, Deb and I always wanted to adopt…We didn’t know where in the process that would happen.” but after suffering from infertility and a handful of miscarriages, it was then that they turned to adoption to start their family. Together they adopted two children: Oscar Maximillian Jackman in May of 2000 and Ava Eliot Jackman in of July 2005.

Deborra was further drawn to orphan advocacy after hearing that many families had been waiting as long as 10 years to complete their adoptions in Australia. "This journey for me began six years ago when I addressed an article I read in my local newspaper in Australia about adoption." Since then, she has been hard at work for these children. Deborra was co-founder The Rafiki Society, a project in Vancouver that helped orphanages in Africa. She is also the founder of National Adoption Awareness week in Australia, a week in November dedicated to raising community awareness, encouraging reform, and empowering all to engage with issues affecting adoption. She currently works as Executive Director for Worldwide Orphans Australia – an organization founded by Dr. Jane Arson, who has been practicing adoption medicine for over 25 years. Their mission is “To transform the lives of orphaned children to help them become healthy, independent, productive members of their communities and the world.”

In a recent article from CNN, Deborra voices her opinion on the need to care for vulnerable children, and how adoption law needs reformed. "I believe the biggest reason that intercountry adoption does not work at an optimum is because we have not put in the mind power and energy and resources needed to create a system that works ethically and expediently." She urges countries and governments to work together to create a system that quickens the adoption process, while keeping the children’s best interests in mind to complete ethical adoptions.

This year, Deborra-Lee Furness will be honored at an event in Washington, DC and will be recognized as a National Angel in Adoption. MLJ’s own Lydia Tarr will be attending the event, as she has been recognized as an Angel in Adoption as well. A big thanks to these ladies for their hard work in bringing children home to their forever families, and congratulations!

Photo Credit: Leahrnpage

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

Jordan Kelly is a graduate of the Kelley School of Business where she majored in Marketing. As an assistant at MLJ Adoptions, Jordan does everything from event planning and managing social media, to writing blogs and designing advertisements.