The story of a federal minister’s remarkable reunion with his birth parents.
Robert Tickner had always known he was adopted, but had rarely felt much curiosity about his origins. Born in 1951, he had a happy childhood—raised by his loving adoptive parents, Bert and Gwen Tickner, in the small seaside town of Forster, New South Wales. He grew up to be a cheerful and confident young man with a fierce sense of social justice, and the desire and stamina to make political change. Serving in the Hawke and Keating governments, he held the portfolio of minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. Among other achievements while in government, he was responsible for initiating the reconciliation process with Indigenous Australians, and he was instrumental in instigating the national inquiry into the stolen generations.
During his time on the front bench, Robert’s son was born, and it was his deep sense of connection to this child that moved him at last to turn his attention to the question of his own birth. Although he had some sense of the potentially life-changing course that lay ahead of him, he could not have anticipated learning of the exceptional nature of the woman who had brought him into the world, the deep scars that his forced adoption had left on her, and the astonishing series of coincidences that had already linked their lives. And this was only the first half of a story that was to lead to a reunion with his birth father and siblings.
This deeply moving memoir is a testament to the significance of all forms of family in shaping us—and to the potential for love to heal great harm.
“An emotional and deeply personal account of the complexity of family and the need to understand your origins. A great Australian story, which leaves the reader feeling positive about the triumph of humanity.”
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“This book confronts aspects of our shared historical past, some of which are horrible and shameful. I wept in parts. I felt sad and angry in other parts. But this book is also about happiness and hope. It is a story all Australians should read.”
Professor Mick Dodson, AM
“Magnificently moving. You won’t be able to put it down. A testament to a mother’s love — and a son’s — full of heart, truth, and power. The final pages will break you.”
“Ten Doors Down is an intelligent and readable account of one man's attempt to reconnect with his birth family ... To read of this journey is truly a privilege.”
Penelope Cottier, Canberra Times
“An emotional journey with an insider’s insights into the political and cultural world of late 20th-century Australia.”
Michael Madigan, Courier Mail
“Ten Doors Down is a memoir on the significance of a mother’s care and the power of familial love ... Ten Doors Down is an emotional and deeply personal story, and Tickner’s insights into family are moving and uplifting.”
Georgia Brough, ArtsHub
“An epic, emotionally challenging, but ultimately heartwarming story about the power of familial bonds, love and life’s strange coincidences.”
Rowan Cowley, The Senior
“Optimistic and uplifting … a moving story, and told with economy and great focus.”
Debra Adelaide, The Age
‘Ten Doors Down is [Robert Tickner’s] best book.’
Alex Mitchell, Come the Revolution
‘This highly personal political memoir tells a heart-wrenching story of genealogical discovery and relationship formation ... At its core, Ten Doors Down is concerned above all with the nature of childhood itself. Reflecting on the reprehensible history of forced adoption in Australia, Tickner confronts many problematic historical assumptions about the nature and rights of a newborn child.’
Josh Black, Australian Book Review