Hugh Jackman talks about the ethnicities of Oscar and Ava

05/16/2007 at 11:09 PM ET

Many readers have previously wondered about the ethnicity of Hugh Jackman’s children, Oscar, 7, and Ava Eliot, 22 months. Hugh is in Australia working on his new movie, Australia, and spoke to New Idea about work and family. He addresses the issue of adoption and the ethnicities of his two children with Deborra-Lee Furness.

Oscar is a bit of everything – African-American, Caucasian, Hawaiian and Cherokee. We specifically requested a bi-racial child because there was more of a need. People will wait 18 months to adopt a little blonde girl; meanwhile, bi-racial children are turned away. The same was true for Ava, she’s half Mexican, half German.

Source: New Idea


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Lilybett on

Wow, I had thought Ava was of Asian origin with those gorgeous eyes, dark hair and pale skin. Maybe I’ve just been looking at pictures taken in a really glaring light.

Sophie on

Aww Ava is half mexican half german! ToO cute!!! She’s one of my fav. celeb babies!

Sarita on

That’s awful that a lot of people don’t want biracial children.

I love Hugh, he is such a great guy and this just adds to his greatness 🙂

Mama Llama on

Were they adopted in the US or Austrailia or another country?

Ava was born in Texas. Not sure about Oscar.

Ana on

Interesting, I thought Ava was caucasian all the way.
Hugh is so right!

Sophie on

People can be such pigs. Racist I mean. A child is a child. They should not be chosen like cars and houses. Just like you don’t really get to choose what comes out of you the biological way. Just because it’s blonde doesn’t mean it will be perfect. Those people remind me of Hitler. I mean could you look at little Ava and say no to that face? Meanwhile who knows what a baby with blue eyes and blonde hair will turn into? I was 100% blonde when I was a baby, now I am a brunette and my parents’ hair is totally black. Go figure.

babycakes on

Its hard to find parents who are willing to adopt Kids of different ethnic backgrounds.

I heard many African-American kids are being adopted by Canadians.

Some people thought Oscar was half Australian Aborigine and Caucasian because Hugh is from Australia. But hes actually half African-American and half Caucasian.

Ava looks half caucasian half Asian, but most Mexicans are half Spanish caucasian and half American-Indian, so I can see why.

Good on Hugh and Deborah like Angelina and Brad.

stephanie on


Judgmental much? Good for the Jackmans for choosing biracial children, but there are many reason for people to choose children of certain race or facial characteristics. Maybe it is close-mindedness. Maybe they’ve been trying to have biological children and want someone who looks like them. Maybe they feel they wouldn’t be able to handle people’s perceptions of biracial children. There are millions of other maybes. It’s a personal choice. Comparing that to Hitler? You disgust me.

maureen on

You know, Sophie, while your comments decrying racism are clearly well meant, I think they reveal a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding of the issue.

It’s wrong to assume that Caucasian couples who adopt Caucasian children do so from racist motives. I bet the majority of parents to make the choice to only adopt a child of the same race don’t do so because they’re like Hitler or don’t feel they could love a child with a different skin color.

Parenting isn’t easy, and parenting a child of another race is different from “regular” adoptive parenting. There are more obstacles and challenges. There is a reason adoption agencies prefer to make same-race placements; it’s usually better and easier for everyone. (That doesn’t mean interracial adoption is wrong or impossible; it’s just harder.)

Not every couple feels prepared to deal with those additional challenges. Parenting, and adoptive parenting, is hard enough; let’s not judge them for not taking on as much as we would.

It is also important to remember that not every couple lives in a tolerant area or a place with racial diversity. There are plenty of [white] people who don’t socialize, work or attend church with very many persons of another race without being racist, and many adoption agencies would discourage families like that from pursuing interracial adoption.

I’ll get off my soapbox now. I just think we need to remember that sometimes choosing against interracial adoption is a responsible choice. Parenting is challenging and important, and I think we should be supportive and not judgmental of mothers and fathers for how they choose to parent.

sarah on

Wow I cannot believe people wouldn’t want beautiful multi-racial children. Being the parent of two muti-racial children I would think people would want them mixed or not because they are some of the most beautiful children there are.

MB on

Sophie, I think that might be a little harsh. Sure, some people are racist, but other people want kids that look like them, or that are from their same culture. For instance, I am Latina and my soon-to-be-husband is Caucasian. We’re planning on adopting and will probably adopt a child from my country of origin, so that he/she won’t lose their heritage. I personally would feel bad adopting a child not of my or my spouse’s culture because my fear would be that I would not be able to really teach them well about where they came from.

Not everyone feels the way I do, and I know lots of people who have adopted kids not of their culture and are amazing parents and their kids are well-adjusted. I am in no way saying people should only adopt from their culture or that people who don’t are robbing their kids! I am just saying that not everyone who has something specific they are looking for in an adopted child is a racist. There are so many children waiting to be adopted all over the world that I think that anyone who adopts should be applauded for providing a home and a loving family to a child that needs one, and people should quit focusing on why the parent or parents wanted that specific child.

Sophie on

Of course and I understand that. But I was not talking about those people. You and I both know that there are people in the world who are very racist. People who would adopt a white blonde child but would say an absolute no to a black child. Yes you will take care of them for the next 18 years or more pay for their schools, clothing, foods, and… Anyway that is why I prefer adoption agencies who know how to analyze you (who you are, where you live, etc.) properly, and then recommend you children. I know many, many people pick out kids like puppies while others are left unadopted just because they are not as “good” as the others.
This point of view is so common that adoptive parents (I am talking about white people now) automaticly think of white children and some time when you mention to them that why don’t they adopt a child of different race they go like, we didn’t even think of that.
I take care of children often and I can not stand this. It is getting to be common in children as well (unfortunatly guess who they get it from? Their parents *sigh*).
A few years ago a family of gypsy origin moved in a house on our street, the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, wonderful neighbors, etc. Oh how their children were picked on by the rest from our block. I got tired of it very quickly and sorted it out. All of them have been very good friends since then, I seee them together all the time. The don’t let other children behave like they used to either and they get compliments at their school because of this, I’ve heard it from the parents.
And Sarah you’re funny because you remind me of my mom. She goes on and on how bi racial children are “so adorable! they are the most beautiful children in the world” Seriously she loves them, lol! My favourite bi racial family is Thandie Newton’s, I guess because she has daughters, who are soooo cute!! go find pics of them if you haven’t seen them already!!) My mom she likes Heidi Klum for example yet we get people, our own friends, who look at the magazines and go UGHH how could she marry a black man, and many many other rude things which I don’t think people want posted here. And mostly our friends are very nice people so you can only imagine what someone who’s really bad would do or say. I read it on the blogs too often too…

Natalee on

When my husband and I have the finances to proceed with an adoption, we will be requesting a trans-racial adoption. We are both caucasian, but we know that you can get a placement much more quickly if you are willing to adopt outside your race. Of course, we are concious of the social, moral, and ethical issues that trans-racial adoption brings (honoring the childs culture, defending them from ignorant comments, etc.), but we just want to become parents, and skin color isn’t important to us.

Debbie on

I thought Hugh Jackman and his wife were Australian? In one of the previous posts you said that the daughter was born in Texas. Did they come to the US to adopt their children and why didn’t they adopt from their own country? I think they are adorable just curious about adoption law for non US adopting here.

Yes, they are Australian, and yes, Ava was born in the US. Not sure about the laws or why they adopted in the US…maybe someone knows though!

FaerieDust76 on

My husband and I are in the process of adopting now. We have requested to be placed with a bi-racial child. We’ve decided this for many reasons. Most of all because there are more bi-racial children available then there are homes. So much so they are considered “special-needs.” I hate that they are labeled that way. They certainly are special and they are certainly in need of a loving home. But Hugh Jackman statement reiterates that our decision was the right one (for us) and we are so excited.

babycakes on

I wonder why Hugh and Deborah decided to adopt from America rather than Australia. Maybe because there are more children available? Most parents who want to adopt choose children from overseas, to avoid any trouble with the birth parents. So its probably why more Americans adopt from places like China and Russia than America.

I want to adopt hopeful two children in the near future.From Africa and maybe the other from America, possibly a Biracial child.

Natalie on

isn’t Deb from the US though? I think she is…

and I just love those two kids, they’re so awesome and Hugh loves being a dad, thats all that really matters

She went to school in NY, but is originally from Australia.

Diana on

Sophie – I’m sorry but what you said comparing people that don’t want to adopt children out of their race to Hitler is a completely disgusting and horrible comment. If you don’t understand why someone would want to adopt a child that looks like them you are completely dense. It isn’t saying that a child of a different race has anything wrong with it, I think its pretty normal to want a child that looks like you. I have heard many comments before from people of different races about white people that adopted from another race, very nasty comments. I don’t think it is easy to raise a child of another race because of how others view it. YOUR COMMENTS DISGUST ME!!

lily on

Why is it always about white people Sophie??…There is such a double standard…I have never came across black people with an adopted white child…so are they racist too??? How dare you compare people who adopt within their own race like Hitler..Who do you think gives you the right to say something like that…you should have more tact than that to say the least.

Tanya on

The most likely reason that they adopted from the US is that there are very few children available for adoption in Australia. From memory, there are only a couple of hundred kids who need adopting in every year. Australia has a very low teen pregnancy rate, a stronger welfare state, and less social concerns about single parenthood …. meaning that there are just few kids available. It’s also very hard to adopt kids from overseas if you are Australian.

cb on

Sophie – understood your comments…and agree with them.

I also thought Oscar was from Australia…go figure…

Black folk (and I’m one of them) don’t adopt much outside of the family, so lily your comment is specious.

There, said my piece.

ligaya on

Even though the anti-Sophie posts have good points (not the “you disgust me” comment – and btw I DO know black people who’ve adopted white & other race kids), I agree with Sophie in general. The Hitler comparison might have been jarring, but I see the logic.

I know over 40 couples (family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances) who’ve adopted same-race, trans-race, in country, internationally. single/multiple, infants/older, siblings, disabled/AIDS/other special needs.

Aside from the birth mother issue, and the long bureacratic maze of paperwork, there’s a definite hierarchy in adoption choices. Far and away the preference is for healthy blond, blue-eyed white baby boys, then just white baby boys. Lagging behind are (blond, blue-eyed) white baby girls, then white toddlers, older white kids. Then infants of color (black being the last choice after Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans), older kids of color, special needs kids, siblings and God help them if they have more than one ‘undesirable’ trait.

It’s sad that there are still places where multi-racial families are shunned. I hope we see more progress sooner rather than later. Bravo to the Jackmans, Jolie-Pitts, Spielbergs and others who see the child, and not the color of her skin first.

ligaya on

“Why is it always about white people Sophie??…”

Look, I grew up in the Civil Rights era and came of age in the 60s and 70s. Since before the abolitionist and suffragette movements to the disabled and gay/lesbian/transgender rights, those in power have been asking the disenfranchised “Why do you have such a big chip on your shoulder? You’re asking too much too soon – be patient for when the time is right. What do women want, anyway?”

Before being immediately dismissive, it might be good to check you assumptions. Maybe you think they’re all wrong and you’re all right, but the truth is often somewhere in between.

Stephen on

I find this conversation interesting, and pertinent. My spouse and I are a mixed couple (he is Hispanic, I am of African origin), and we are in the process of adoption. We hope to adopt a child of mixed race, or a Hispanic child (which we consider ‘mixed race’ as well, ethnically speaking).

Throughout our extensive research, we have found that race is a HUGE issue in adoption. We will be paying half the fee for a child with ANY African-American blood – that is even a drop. These children are considered ‘hard to place’. For us, this means we create our family more readily, but the system is still shocking.

As for trans-racial adoption, we met with an agency in MA, after letting the owner know what type of child we were looking for. Despite this, she constantly tried to get us to consider full African-American children (perhaps to increase her agency’s numbers, which were paltry). If a white couple had come to her and asked for a white child, somehow I know that she would not have been trying to convince them to adopt an AA child, or even a child of mixed race. White is the standard, and most desirable in this society, and it extends to adoption as well.

The first question a Caucasian work colleague, when I told him that we were adopting, asked was: “Will they let you adopt a white child?” The underlying assumptions behind the question were telling.

My opinion is that people should adopt whichever child they feel they can parent. Consider adoption of a child with special needs; some people are born to do such parenting, others cannot imagine it. What matters in the end is the child. Will an unwanted child be loved in that home? I think that many people want children that look like them, both for the child’s sake and for their own. Some people have racist intentions, but each to his own. This is a free country, after all. The child’s wellbeing is the most important thing to consider.

Fan on

Oscar was born in LA. His birth mother even lived with Hugh and Deb before he was born – they had an “open adoption.” They were at his birth and it was reported that Hugh even cut the cord. Hugh was filming “Scoop” in London when Ava was born and director Woody Allen gave him time off so they could fly to Texas, so it sounds like it may have been a different arrangement with Ava.

Deb is also Australian – she was a big star in Australia before she met Hugh – they met on a TV show where she was the star and he was co-starring and was right out of drama school. I believe Deb did go to drama school in NYC and lived in LA for a bit – Nicole Kidman was her roommate when Nicole first came to the US.

Since both there children were born in the US, the are American citizens. I assume they hold dual citizenship since I would guess Hugh and Deb registered them in Australia. Hugh and Deb split there time between both the US and Australia – they consider both NYC and Australia their home.

Fan on,21985,22189611-661,00.html

Deborra-lee slams new “White Australia” Sunday Herald
Ellen Connolly
August 05, 2007 12:00am

ACTOR Deborra-lee Furness believes the Federal Government is fostering an anti-adoption culture that thwarts thousands of childless couples from adopting overseas babies.

The wife of Hollywood star Hugh Jackman says she and her celebrity husband would be childless had it not been for her US residency.

Furness has told of the trauma of “red tape and bureaucracy” that forced them to return to the US to adopt Oscar, 7, and Ava, 2.

And she revealed they were present at the births of their children.

Furness wants to meet Prime Minister John Howard to discuss overhauling adoption procedures.

She wants a government body established immediately to take sole responsibility for adoptions.

“We’ve experienced it first-hand — we tried to adopt in Australia and couldn’t because we were overwhelmed by the hurdles and obstacles they put in our way,” Furness said.

But the adoption process in the US took less than a year.

Furness — in Australia while Jackman films the Baz Lurhmann epic Australia — is on a crusade to help the couples with “horror stories” of futile attempts to adopt.

“I’m fortunate,” she says. “I have two beautiful children and that’s why people come to me and say, ‘Deb can you help me?’.

“I tell them it will be long, expensive and may not happen.”

Furness says it is “an outrage and an embarrassment” that Australia ranks last in inter-country adoption throughout the world.

“It breaks my heart to think there are thousands of abandoned children overseas waiting for loving families to take them, but the Government is making it so hard.”

A parliamentary inquiry found in 2005 that the “current system is not working” and that adoption was a low priority for state and federal governments.

It recommended the Federal Government plays a bigger role in the process — to make it quicker and less expensive.

While the Government said it “accepted” most of the inquiry’s recommendations, it did nothing to implement them. Instead, it devised more restrictions — announcing last week legislation to stop same-sex Australian couples adopting a child overseas. The child would not be granted a visa.

Furness is worried the Government’s attitude may be a return of a “White Australia policy”.

“This is a humanitarian issue. Australia has a generous spirit, yet this to me reeks of fear and a lack of generosity,” she says. “You see it with the refugee crisis as well.”

SHE said she was prompted to speak out on the issue when she read of the plight of a Sydney woman whose adopted baby was still in China because the Immigration Department would not grant her a visa.

“When I hear these stories, it breaks my heart. I know what happens to these babies; they end up institutionalised or on the streets,” Furness said.

Denise Calligeros, 45, revealed this week she had been trying for 13 years to adopt but has been rejected for a second time because now she is too old.

The adoption crisis has escalated since 1998 when Australia signed the Hague Convention in respect to the protection of children and adoption.

The agreement resulted in the Federal Attorney-General delegating the administration to state governments. But that stopped voluntary organisations from helping facilitate inter-country adoptions.

As a result, queues have grown into thousands and some states have stopped taking registrations.

Furness says the Department of Community Services in NSW is too busy coping with local issues of child abuse to worry about inter-country adoptions.

“You have children who are abandoned and homeless and you have people desperate to have a child, but because of this bureaucracy and lack of resources they can’t,” she says.

Adoption has become such a long and expensive process for Australian couples that many simply give up.

Some states have fees up to $10,000 to lodge the initial application — and it is non-refundable, even if the couple is unsuccessful.

On top of that there are airfares, visas, medical and processing bills. The total outlay can reach $40,000.

Ricky Brisson, whose program to assist couples to adopt was stopped by the Government three years ago, said: “The costs are becoming more prohibitive and a lot of families are giving up.”

She said it now took about seven years to process an adoption, which meant some couples failed because they grew too old.

“We have thousands of kids waiting for families and thousands of people in Australia looking to adopt them, but we have a system which is useless in delivering a proper service,” she said.

In 2004-05, 410 overseas babies from 25 countries were adopted in Australia — compared with 21,000 in the US.

Furness said the process in the US was quick and inexpensive “and not made impossible like it is here”.

“We are the most blessed people in the world, but I have friends here who are coming up against so many brick walls,” she said.

Kitty on

Hi all,

I know that this discussion is about adoption, but I’d like to add my two cents worth about bi-racial children. My husband in Caucasian and I am mixed race. We have twin girls one who looks “completely white” and the other who looks mixed race. I am often stopped and asked whether about my baby sitting service, because I am so loving with “my charges”, the assumption being that I couldn’t possible be the mother of a “white” child.

Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I get a bit PO’d, the important thing to remember is that a child should be loved and wanted whether “natural, adopted, or whether or not they look like the parents.

That’s all I wanted to say.


Sandra on

These are old posts, but thought I’d answer them anyway. Yes Deb is Aussie, born in Melbourne. Only did a few years acting studies in NY in 1981. She met Hugh while working back in Melbourne. She has spent more time in NYC than in Melbourne though. As for adoptions in Australia, Hugh and Deb were continually frustrated by the rules down here. Most couples wait about 10 years to adopt here. As Hugh was working in NY, it made sense that they’d adopt while in the US. Deb has been trying to sort out the red tape issues in Australia ever since.