Frequently Asked Questions

How can VANISH help me?

VANISH offers search expertise, support, and community to people affected by adoption and family separation. Support can be provided in-person, over the phone, or by email. VANISH also offers support groups, both in-person and online, and creative workshops when funding is available. 

We can also refer you to other appropriate services if required. 

As a lived experience-led organisation, VANISH staff often have a relevant personal experience. We offer support with empathy and respect, according to our values.   

We respect your confidentiality at all times.

Who is eligible for services?

VANISH provides services to individuals with an experience of adoption and/or separation from a child through past and forced adoption practices in Victoria. This includes mothers and fathers separated from their child, adopted people (including intercountry adopted people), and their family members.  

We also provide a search service for Forgotten Australians/Care Leavers via an agreement with Open Place

VANISH welcomes First Nations peoples and we can refer you to specialist services for the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community. We also welcome members of the LGBTIQA+ community, people with a disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Please let us know if you have any specific cultural and/or access requirements.

Is there a fee for services?

All VANISH services are free for people whose adoption or separation from their child took place in Victoria, regardless of where you live now.  

Our support services are also free for people affected by adoption in other states and countries who now live in Victoria. 

If you have an interstate or overseas adoption experience, we may be able to assist with your search for a fee or refer you to appropriate services. Please contact us to discuss your specific situation. 

What is the search process like?

You can see the basic steps involved in searching for family members here.  

However, each search is very personal and unique. Some people choose to only obtain their adoption records, while others continue on to search for their mother, father, or child, and others still go on to make outreach in the hope of possible contact and reunion. 

How do I apply for adoption records?

If the adoption took place in Victoria, you can apply directly to Adoption Information Services (Department of Justice and Community Safety) or we can assist you to apply.  

Adoption Information Services: Past Adoption Records 

Phone: 1300 194 757 

Email: adoptionrecords@justice.vic.gov.au 

Website: https://www.justice.vic.gov.au/your-rights/adoption-0/past-adoption

Depending on your situation, the adoption information you are able to access may vary. Feel free to contact us to discuss this further.

Can you help me find a missing person or family member (unrelated to adoption)?

Unfortunately VANISH is only funded to support people affected by family separation through adoption. If you have immediate concerns for a person’s safety and wellbeing, please contact the police.

How can I adopt a child or adult?

VANISH does not assist with current adoptions. Please contact Adoption Information Services (Department of Justice and Community Safety).

Adoption Information Services: Adopt a Child 

Phone: 1300 194 754 

Email: adoptionsvic@justice.vic.gov.au 

Website: https://www.justice.vic.gov.au/your-rights/adoption/adopt-a-child

How can I attend a VANISH support group?

Please contact us to discuss attending our support groups and to register for an upcoming group. You can read more about our support groups here.

Does VANISH provide counselling?

VANISH provides counselling subject to funding availability. When funded, VANISH can pay for or subsidise up to ten counselling sessions with a suitable counsellor or psychologist. 

VANISH can also help you find an adoption-sensitive counsellor or psychologist. Please call us to discuss your referral requirements or your eligibility to receive funded counselling. 

Can I get compensation/redress?

In response to the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into responses to historical forced adoption in Victoria, the Victorian government is currently developing a redress scheme for mothers affected by forced adoption.  

For more information and updates, visit: 


VANISH continues to advocate for redress to include adopted people.

Is my information confidential?

Yes. We respect your confidentiality at all times and do not share your information without your permission. We adhere to state and federal privacy legislation and ensure all documents and correspondence are stored securely.

Can I talk to you?

Yes, you are welcome to contact us by phone or email or visit us. The VANISH office in North Melbourne is open to visitors from Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, by appointment only. Please call us or email info@vanish.org.au to arrange a time.

Can I provide feedback?

Yes. VANISH is committed to meeting our service users’ needs and we welcome your feedback at all times. You can download our feedback form here and read our Feedback and Complaints policy here.

How is VANISH funded?

VANISH is a not-for-profit charitable organisation which has been funded by the Victorian Government since 1989 to provide free services for people affected by adoption and family separation. We rely on a combination of government funding, donations and bequests from individuals, and support from volunteers to help us provide ongoing services. You can also view our financial statements in our annual reports here.

Get in touch with our helpful team

Contact us to find out more about our services or have a chat about how we can best support you.