Support and Counselling

Although stories in the media tend to focus on happy reunions, past and forced adoption practices have caused significant trauma, loss, and grief for those involved. People affected by these practices will often seek support. 

VANISH search and support workers are qualified professionals with extensive experience in supporting people affected by adoption and family separation. Many of our staff also have a lived experience of adoption so they can understand what you’re going through. You can feel comfortable reaching out to VANISH for support.

Choose the type of support that works for you

VANISH offers different types and levels of support. We can provide support over the phone, in person (by appointment), or by email, or we can refer you to a counsellor. You can also join one of our support groups, which are held in North Melbourne, in regional Victoria, and online. 

Support is available to people whose adoption or separation from their child took place in Victoria and for people who now live in Victoria, including intercountry adopted people.

Please contact us to discuss how we can best support you.

VANISH services are not designed for crisis support.

If you require immediate support, please call 000 or one of the services below: 


Ph: 13 11 14 

Beyond Blue

Ph: 1300 22 4636

Men’s Line Australia

Ph: 1300 78 99 78

Suicide Call Back Service

Ph: 1300 659 467

SuicideLine Victoria

Ph: 1300 651 251

The ongoing impact of adoption

Adoption can have lifelong personal and psychological impacts for all members of the adoption constellation, including mothers, fathers, adopted people, and extended family members. 

Research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (2012) found that: 

  • Adopted people had poorer wellbeing, higher psychological distress, and experienced problems with attachment, identity, fear of abandonment, relationships, and parenting their own children. 
  • Mothers had a higher likelihood of severe mental health problems, low self-worth, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  
  • Fathers, who were often excluded from the adoption process, also experienced mental health issues and symptoms of PTSD. 
  • Adoption created a “ripple effect”, with long-term impacts felt by other family members, including siblings, partners, extended relatives, and subsequent generations.

Some common concerns may be: 

  • Deciding whether to undertake a search or not 
  • Managing emotions during a search, reunion and beyond 
  • Discovering later in life that you are adopted 
  • Relationship difficulties 
  • Confusion around identity and sense of belonging 
  • Pervasive shame and low self-worth 
  • Ongoing feelings of loss and grief

    Some things that can help are: 

    • Acknowledgment and validation of what happened and its long-term impact 
    • Learning about other peoples’ experiences of adoption and family separation 
    • Finding information about one’s family members and the circumstances of the adoption/family separation through accessing adoption records 
    • Attending a support group or connecting with others with a similar experience through social or creative activities or community events
    • Working with a specialist counsellor or psychologist 
    • Reading or watching the state and national apologies

    Counselling Referral Service & Brokerage Program

    An adoption-sensitive and trauma-informed counsellor can help individuals to explore difficult feelings and address underlying issues of separation, loss, trust, identity, and self-esteem. 

    VANISH can assist you to connect with a counsellor or psychologist from our register of professionals who have the adoption sensitivity and understanding required to work with the grief, trauma and loss that are commonly experienced. 

    From time to time, VANISH is funded by the Victorian government to provide a counselling brokerage program, through which we can fund up to ten counselling sessions with a counsellor or psychologist of your choice. Participants must meet eligibility criteria including financial barriers to accessing counselling. 

    Please call us to discuss your referral requirements or your eligibility for the counselling brokerage program.

    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.