Listen: Emma Adams in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
Unbreakable Threads is the remarkable true story of an Australian mother’s fight to free an unaccompanied Hazara boy from detention and include him in her family.
Courage and kindness
It is an extraordinary story of courage and kindness and the ultimate triumph of family over what, at times, seem like insurmountable odds.
Dr Emma Adams is a psychiatrist specialising in the wellbeing of mothers and babies. When Emma, a mother herself, travels to Darwin as an observer of conditions for mothers and babies in the immigration detention centres there, she expects the trip to be confronting.
Why lock a boy behind a wire fence?
What she doesn’t expect is to return to Canberra consumed by the idea that she must help Abdul – a sixteen‐year‐old unaccompanied Hazara boy from Afghanistan. It was an expression of motherly concern and humanity and a desire to do for Abdul what his own mother could not. Emma reasoned “Wouldn’t any teenage boy be better off staying with a family rather than locked behind a wire fence?”
Hope and humanity
In this brutal and bureaucratic system, freedom was a hopeless dream. Emma and Abdul’s connection, and her fight to get him out and provide him with an Australian home, a family and a future, forms an important testimony in Australia’s appalling treatment of asylum seekers. Their story is a beacon of hope and humanity.
In Unbreakable Threads, the memoir she wrote about the fight to make Abdual part of her family, Emma writes, ‘Abdul is dignified, defiant even, but his poise is beginning to wear thin in this place. He needs surgery for a chronic shoulder injury sustained when he was hit by a car in Kabul. Like the others in detention with him, he faces an uncertain fate, and years in limbo. Most of the people in the centre have already had their spirits broken.’
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