Shane copy

Still celebrating reunion.

Still celebrating reunion.

About Us

In April 2016 he found me with the help of JigSaw Queensland. I read his letter to me on the evening of 1st May 2016, and we finally reunited on 3rd May 2016.

He was 44 years old, and we have been in constant daily communication ever since.

Two days before Christmas 2016 he finally told his adoptive parents that he had found me. He had been building up the strength to tell them for a long time. They initially acted happy for him, but just before New Year they disowned him… twice. Early in 2017 they threatened to sue him … apparently for writing an anonymous blog which was about his feelings and not anything about them.

We are “lucky” in that we’ve found each other. Unfortunately there was no luck involved in the rest of the story. We cannot change the past, but forgive/forget??? Not in this lifetime. Too many things need to be changed before I can even start that process. Far too many lives have been ruined beyond comprehension. Move forward? Yes definitely. Nothing will stop me from continuing to tell his and my truth. People need to know about these atrocities, so it never happens again. My son deserves recognition for his trauma and loss, and he’s going to get it.


Hello, my name is Shane Bouel, 
I’m a Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Adoptee, Friend, Mentor, Creative and Human Rights Activist

What we need from you! 

The general public has no comprehension of the level of trauma that adoption causes, only adoptees and birth mothers know. We stand united against the fairy tale narrative of adoption. Public awareness and access to information is sparse, poorly distributed and often relied on chance. Misperceptions about adoption and resulting stereotypes were common across the globe and still are today. We hope the articles and interviews linked below inform you of the truth behind adoption.

Seek to actively increase your understanding.

Being estranged from one’s family is a painful and difficult experience, and it can be especially devastating when it comes after a long-awaited reunion. For those who have been adopted, the search for biological family members can be a fraught and emotional journey, full of hope and uncertainty. But what happens when that reunion leads to further loss and isolation?

For some adoptees, the discovery of biological family members can be a joyous occasion, a chance to connect with people who share their DNA and learn more about their genetic heritage. But for others, it can lead to disappointment, rejection, and even further trauma. Such was the case for me, when I finally tracked down my biological family after years of searching, only to be met with hostility, suspicion, and ultimately, estrangement from my adoptive familiy.

The experience was devastating, leaving me feeling more alone and isolated than ever before. What’s worse, I found myself cut off from my own children from my first marriage. The reasons for this estrangement were complex and painful, rooted in years of conflict and hurt feelings that had never been fully resolved by anyone in my adoptive  family. To make matters worse, my son had been diagnosed with a brain tumor just two years before the divorce of my first marrage, leaving us reeling from the shock and uncertainty of his illness.

In the years since, I have struggled to come to terms with the loss of my family, both biological and adopted. I have worked to build a new life for myself, one that is grounded in self-love, compassion, and spiritual connection. But the pain of estrangement still lingers, a reminder of the ways in which our families can shape us and define us, even when they are absent from our lives. I have come to understand that healing from such wounds takes time and patience, and that the road to recovery is often long and difficult. But I remain hopeful that someday, I will be able to reconnect with my loved ones, and find a sense of peace and belonging once more.

The days are dark and in joy I find grace.. 

“We’re all just walking each other home”
Ramm Dass

We've now been in reunion for 7 Years!


531 Months. OR 2312 Weeks. OR 16187 Days. OR 1398553200 Seconds.

Here are two simple things that would ease the burden on adoptees and their mental health:

  1. The issuance of Birth Certificates that state the correct relationship between guardians and birth parents. Past and current process remove any mention of biological family and implies that the adoptive family gave birth to the adoptee. This is how adoptive parents get away with not telling adoptive children that they’re adopted. Many people do not know that this is still a standard policy in today’s adoptions.
  2. Ease of access to no fault no fee discharges, so those of failed adoptions like myself are able to return to their family of origin. This would avoid going through extreme, unnecessary trauma, time and time again through lengthy excessively expensive court proceedings.

Adoptees nationally have been advocating for these changes to legislation state by state for decades to no avail.

Secret Son - Ep 19 - Mike Trupiano

Join Shane Bouel and I as we delve into searching, societal resistance to our search and piecing together our new identity.

Shane Bouel, an Australian adoptee, is a compelling voice shedding light on the intricate journey of adoption.

In his thought-provoking piece Understanding the Unseen Journey of Adoptees, he explores the three half-lives of adoption, delving into the complexities faced by adoptees as they navigate identity, family, and community.

Shane’s work serves as a poignant call for societal understanding, empathy, and a reevaluation of adoption narratives.




Adoption Advocacy efforts - 2022 - 2023

Australia’s Dirty Laundry

Adoptees nationally have been advocating for these changes to legislation state by state for decades to no avail – Click the image for the full Article

Cut Off Genes Podcast Interviews

About Cut Off Genes: Ever wondered what consumer DNA testing can do for you- beyond telling you your ethnicity? Are you an adoptee- or someone who has an unknown parent or relative? Do you love Genealogy? You’re in the right place. Join Julie DIxon Jackson and Renee Colvert as they attempt to guide you through what it takes to use DNA to break down brick walls, solve mysteries- or find your “people”!

That's Live Interview

Our Reunion

Interview by Rebecca Levingston ABC Radio Brisbane

Courier-Mail - 9 July 2022

And we were also interviewed for an article in the Courier-Mail

Queenslanders are still feeling the pain of forced adoptions

Michael Madigan, The Courier-Mail

EVERY evening Lesley Mitchell relishes the chance to say “’good night son’’ to the little boy she was forced to give up for adoption 47 years ago.

“We chat almost every day, and at least reach out every night just to say good night,’’ Mitchell said this week as she prepared to mark the seventh anniversary of the Queensland Government’s Apology for Forced Adoption Policies and Practices.

“That’s something I never thought I’d have the privilege of doing. Just a simple ‘good night son’ makes all the difference to me.’’

The seventh anniversary will be marked this Wednesday with a special ceremony and morning tea event starting at 9.30am at the Forced Adoption Apology Memorial Site in the Roma Street Parkland.

Lesley Mitchell and son Shane who were forced apart by adoption but are now reunited.

The event is being co-ordinated by the Queensland Post Adoption Working Committee comprising of The Benevolent Society’s Post Adoption Support Queensland (PASQ), ALAS Adoption Loss Adult Support Inc, the Association for Adoptees Inc, Jigsaw Queensland, Origins Queensland and Adoption and Permanent Care Services Queensland.

It was on November 27, 2012 that the then Queensland premier, Campbell Newman, delivered a powerful apology to the mothers who suffered under forced adoption policies.

“To the mothers whose babies were taken and hidden from them, and who were misled, deceived, threatened or forced to relinquish their babies, we say sorry,’’ Newman told the Queensland Parliament.

“You were denied a voice, dignity and care and, in many cases, the fulfilment of your pregnancy was turned into anguish.

“We regret the untruths that were told to you and about you, and any illegal acts that were perpetrated upon you.

Lesley Mitchell, who was a victim of forced adoption.

“Today we say that you need not suffer in silence any more.’’

The silence may have ended but, for many, the suffering continues.

It is difficult for many in 2019 to believe, but until the Supporting Mother’s Benefit was introduced in Australia in 1973 it was common for unwed mothers to be forced to adopt out their child.

A 2010 report to the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs found forced adoption had lifelong consequences for women, their children and extended family members.

Yet, with national statistics only compiled from 1969-70 onwards, it is difficult to reliably calculate the total number of adoptions which have occurred across Australia.

Since 1969, rates of adoption of Australian-born children by non-related persons was highest in 1970-71 with a rapid decline through to the early 1990s before stabilising.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies now reports that one in 15 Australians are affected in some way by the past practices of closed adoption.

“We know that many past adoption policies and practices continue to impact people’s lives today,” said Katharine McLean, The Benevolent Society’s Team Leader of Child and Family Services Brisbane North.

Premier Campbell Newman signs the official apology at parliament house. Picture: Jono Searle

“Acknowledging these mothers, fathers, adopted people, and other family members is important.

“Our event offers them an opportunity to commemorate the State Government Apology and continue their journey towards wholeness and healing.”

Mitchell, who became pregnant in 1971 and gave birth to Shane in early 1972, had just turned 19 when she learnt she was to become a mother.

“I had just turned 19, and my mother was already struggling to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table,’’ she recalled.

Through her pregnancy there was never the slightest hint she could keep her baby but there was also no offer of assistance or support.

“Friends donated food, and literally on a regular basis another piece of furniture was sold including my mother’s beloved piano.’’

After her baby Shane was taken away she was told he was ill, leaving her to wonder if he had lived or died.

She preferred to believe he was living the “perfect life out there, with a mother and father who could provide him with so much more than I could.’’

“I never searched for Shane,’’ she said.

The Benevolent Society’s Post Adoption Support Queensland team leader Katharine McLean.

“Mothers had been told that we had no right to search for our children, and no right to upset their perfect lives.’’

Mitchell was ordered to sign “relinquishment papers’’ but not asked to read them, nor asked if she understood them.

She actually found out 70 days after the birth that she had 30 days to change her mind, but that was never properly explained.

“I never received copies of any of those papers, no lawyer was present, nor was I advised of my legal rights to sign or not to sign.

“I did not willingly ‘surrender’, ‘relinquish’ or ‘give away’ my son.

“I received no counselling, advocacy or alternative choices.’’


Her son, Shane Bouel, contacted Jigsaw Queensland in 2016 in an attempt to find his mum.

“Once I had an address I wrote a letter and couldn’t wait for a posted letter to arrive so my partner Tracy and I hand-delivered it,’’ Bouel recalls.

“Lesley was not home at the time and she contacted me on messenger a day or two later. ‘’

It was an early morning Monday of a long weekend when the message came through and he was a “raging mess.’’

Report of the Forced Adoptions Inquiry press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.

“I couldn’t operate my device I was in such a state. Tracy read the message to me, there were tears everywhere followed by lots of jumping up and down on the bed.

“We met the next day – I couldn’t wait. We drove up to the Grand View Hotel in Cleveland after work.

“When we first made eye contact there were instant tears, we held each other without a word for probably 15 to 20 minutes before we
could speak.’’

Bouel readily acknowledges reunions of those separated by adoption are not always plain sailing, and he and Mitchell must work actively on the relationship.

“Truthfully it was hard, but we made a pact early on to be open and discuss things through, helping each other heal is a priority.

“There is no preparation, no playbook for how to handle these situations.’’

Openness and determination for both parties is essential and Bouel suspects more troubled reunions might stem from a failure to “come together at the right time with the right mindset.’’

The pair now contact each other daily, and work through the grieving process.

“Society, in general, has no idea of the loss that is experienced from adoption,’’ says Bouel.

“When people lose their way in the process the ensuing psychological and emotional upheaval can be too much to bear, leaving people unprepared, unsupported and out in the cold once again.’’

PM Julia Gillard is mobbed as she leaves the Great Hall after delivering a National Apology on Forced Adoption at Parliament House in Canberra.

Organisations like The Benevolent Society’s Post Adoption Support Queensland are now a point of reference for those people who want to reconnect with those separated by adoption.

As the then-premier Campbell Newman said seven years ago, “you have been heard, you are believed and you are not to blame.’’

“We will continue to listen to, work with, and support you to heal and we are committed to ensuring these policies and practices are not forgotten and are never repeated.’’


Post Adoption Support Queensland can be contacted via 07 3170 4600 or email

Benevolent Society - Post Adoption Services Queensland

On Wednesday the 27th of November 2019. Post Adoption Support Queensland conducted a wonderful gathering to mark a significant event. The 7th anniversary of the Queensland Government Apology for past forced adoption policies and practices.

My natural Mother and I had the honour of speaking at the event to share our story of reunion.

We would both like to thank all involved – PASQ in particular for thinking of us in the first place, giving us the opportunities to tell different parts of our stories.
Special mention for their support – Chris Mundy, Cathy Clancy, Katharine McLean

Apology for Forced Adoption Policies and Practices

27 November 2012

Today this Legislative Assembly acknowledges the wrongs that have been inflicted by past forced adoption policies and practices in Queensland. We acknowledge those who were denied the choice of parenthood, especially the mothers, as well as the fathers and other generations of their families.

To the mothers whose babies were taken and hidden from them, and who were misled, deceived, threatened or forced to relinquish their babies, we say sorry. You were denied a voice, dignity and care and, in many cases, the fulfilment of your pregnancy was turned into anguish. We regret the untruths that were told to you and about you, and any illegal acts that were perpetrated upon you. Today we say that you need not suffer in silence any more.

To the sons and daughters taken from their mothers, we also say sorry and express our deep regret for the trauma that many of you have suffered. We acknowledge that you were denied the right to experience the bonds between you and your natural mother, father, siblings and other family members because of the practices that took place at the time of your birth. We know that for many of you this has caused immeasurable pain.

We acknowledge that this experience has impacted on the lives of fathers, siblings and other family members and to them we are sorry. We acknowledge also the partners, children and others who have supported their loved ones over the years in coping with the grief they endure.

This Legislative Assembly offers its unreserved and sincere apology to all those families forcibly and unlawfully broken apart by these past practices and we acknowledge that your pain and suffering continues. We acknowledge the shame, guilt and secrecy carried by many for too long in silence, and that when it was expressed often it has not been believed.

Today, in this Legislative Assembly, we place on the record for future generations and say to all those affected, you have been heard, you are believed and you are not to blame. We will continue to listen to, work with, and support you to heal and we are committed to ensuring these policies and practices are not forgotten and are never repeated.

To all those affected we say sorry.

Julia Gillard  – 27th Prime Minister of Australia