Adopting a Balanda – accepting you as our own

“Very difficult for Aboriginal people if you are not adopted. They do respect that you are coming from another world, but it’s easier if you are living in a community in their world, and engaging into their world, to be adopted. Yolngu people connect through Gurruṯu extended family relationships. If we adopt you we accept you as our own relative. It means I want to connect with you, relate to you, communicate easily with you. To and fro.
Ngunhi ngarra dhu gumurryu marram nhuna, ngunhiyiny nhe bilin gurrutumirra ngarraku.
Nguringiyiny ga mangutji- lakaram ngunha ngali dhu bawalamirra wanganhamirrka bala rali balanydjarratjarran.
I’m related to Richard Trudgen as a sister, through his adoption to a community in Ramingining. Sometimes we work together. Avoidance is for respect. I can still talk to him directly as a sister, in a respectful manner, using the appropriate or right approach.
My brothers adopted two European white men and gave them their skin names and Aboriginal names. One of them lived with us for over 15 years, in the homelands near Gove. We still have that strong connection with them. They call us, find out how we are.”
Dianne Biritjalawu (‘Beja’) Gondarra, Yolngu leader from Elcho Island in Northeast Arnhem Land.
Watch our Q&A no.44 for more about the importance of Balanda to be adopted into an Aboriginal clan.
Share your adoption story with us on social media if you have one.

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