'More players at the table': Deborra-Lee Furness on raising kids from different cultural backgrounds

Picture: Instagram
Picture: Instagram 

Deborra-Lee Furness has spoken of how she and Hugh Jackman honour their children's cultural backgrounds.

The actor and adoption advocate spoke with People about how she and Jackman have tried to help their adopted children Oscar, 20 and Ava Eliot, 15 embrace and explore their respective backgrounds.

The couple adopted Oscar soon after his birth in 2000, and Ava in 2005. 

The 64-year-old also explained that parenting adopted children required a more complex approach, saying there were 'more ancestors at the table' and that their backgrounds were an important part of who they are.

Furness also described how her own upbringing – which she believes was shaped by her grandmother and great-grandmother before that, had influenced who she is.

But for her kids, she said, there was both the influence of her family, as well as the 'extra ancestors' shaping who her kids will become.

"But my children also have a separate lineage. So it's almost like we have more players at the table," she said. "We've got cultural differences in there, and I do believe these will play out generation after generation," she said. 

"We completely embrace the ancestors and the extended family; they're family to us. And it's in there, even though it's generational. It may be subtle, but it's in there."

Picture: Deborra-Lee Furness and Hugh Jackman with their kids when their kids were younger

Picture: Deborra-Lee Furness and Hugh Jackman with their kids when their kids were younger.


Both she and Jackman had encouraged their children to learn more about their backgrounds and to visit areas their families had come from. 

"When my son was younger, he found out he was part Bosnian, so we went and got this Croatian/Bosnian cookbook and he was very proud to carry that around when he was seven years old," she said.

"My daughter has a Mexican lineage, so we've been to Mexico."

Furness also added there were ambiguous differences between the likes and dislikes between adopted and natural siblings, which can make it both 'more challenging' and 'more exciting'.

The couple have kept a low profile of their children, who have lived much of their life in New York. However Furness did get real about the less glamorous side of motherhood. 

While her children had 'made me smarter than I think I ever could have been on my own', she said, they also knew how to find her 'Achilles heel' and shone a light on 'every one' of her flaws.