Support Groups

A safe space to explore your adoption experience

VANISH support groups are for people affected by adoption (18+) to meet and share with others who have had similar experiences. These groups offer a confidential, non-judgmental space where you can talk about what’s on your mind and how you’re feeling—or you can just come and listen. Most of our facilitators are staff or volunteers with a lived experience of adoption. 

We welcome both new and regular attendees and you can join a group whenever you need to.

What to expect

Group size

Most groups have 6-12 attendees. We aim to give everyone time to share if they wish.


Our groups run for 2 hours. Attendees are expected to stay for the whole duration unless the group ends early.


Our groups are run by skilled professionals. Facilitators or co-facilitators have a lived experience.

Peer support, not therapy

This is a peer support group, in which we gain empathy and understanding from others with shared lived experiences. Peer support can contribute towards healing, but it does not replace mental health services from psychologists or counsellors.

A safe, non-judgmental space

Our groups offer a safe space to express yourself and it’s ok to become emotional. You can always choose to share or just listen, depending on how you feel.

Diverse experiences

Adoption impacts people differently, and each person’s experience is unique. We are mindful of respecting each other’s experiences and sharing the space with others.

Group Guidelines

Our groups adhere to the VANISH Support Group Guidelines to maintain safety and consistency at each group. You can read our group guidelines here.

Dates and Times

We currently offer groups for adopted people only, in-person and online, and a mixed support group for all adults with an adoption experience, in Albury. The mixed group provides an opportunity to meet and share with people affected by adoption in different ways, whose experiences can help to inform and enlighten one’s own. 

For 2024 dates, see below.

Melbourne Support Group for Adopted People

2024 Dates: Fourth Tuesday of every month (January 23, February 27, March 26, April 23, May 28, June 25, July 23, August 27, September 24, October 22, November 26)  

Time: 7.30-9.30pm 

Location: VANISH office, Level 1, 50-52 Howard St, North Melbourne

Online Support Group for Adopted People (via Zoom)  

2024 Dates: Second Wednesday of every other month (February 14, April 10, June 12 August 14, October 9, December 11) 

Time: 6.30-8.30pm 

Location: Zoom

Albury-Wodonga Support Group for Adopted People, Mothers, Fathers, and Adoptive Parents

2024 Dates: For Adopted People (18+) only: Saturdays on February 10 May 11, August 10, November 9 

Mixed Groups for Adopted Persons, Mothers, Fathers and Adoptive Parents: Saturdays on March 9, June 8, September 7* (*updated), December 14 

Time: 10.30am to 12.30pm 

Location: Albury Library Museum, 540 Kiewa Street, Albury

Ballarat Support Group for Adopted People

2024 Dates: Saturdays on January 20, February 17, March 16, April 20, May 18, Jun 15, July 20, August 17 September 21, October 19, November 16. 

Time: 2pm to 4pm 

Location: Eastwood Leisure Complex, 20 Eastwood Street, Ballarat

How to register

If you would like to register for a group or find out more information, please contact us.

Some feedback from attendees:

“I just wanted to say that coming to last night’s meeting was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself... Listening to and really hearing what others shared was so cathartic. I was not alone. Each has a different journey but similar threads, understanding the feelings so deeply in each of our core. And for the very first time, in that tiny room, no one needed to apologise for what they felt. No one was brushed off. How cool is that!”

 – Cait, adoptee

"At my first group I didn’t know what to expect but with each group I got to learn more about how we all feel the loss of separation and also how people manage their grief – all in so many different ways. It gave me hope, at times inspiration, and but most importantly courage to continue with my reunion.”

– Anonymous, mother

“Finally got to my first meeting last night and I loved it - I think it was one of the first times in my life I felt no need to edit myself and that I was in a room where every person was just like me, though different”

– Annette, adoptee

Support Groups: Frequently Asked Questions

I am not sure if the group is right for me. What should I do?

If you are uncertain for whatever reason, please give us a call and we can describe what the group is like which can help you decide if you want to come along or not. 

Is there a fee to attend?

No, the support groups are a free service provided by VANISH. If you wish to contribute you are welcome to bring some biscuits or a snack to share.

I can’t get to the group at the starting time. Is that OK?

We prefer that everyone arrives on time so as not to miss the opening comments and introductions. If you wish to come late, please let us know in advance and we can mention it to the other participants at the beginning.

Can I bring a friend or family member or carer to support me?

Our groups are for individuals with a lived experience so if you want to bring someone with you, please let us know in advance and we will discuss how to manage this with you.

I haven’t decided yet whether I want to search. Would the group be suitable for me?

Yes, our groups are not just for those searching or who have searched, but to support anyone who wants to talk about or explore their experience.

I really need help with my family relationships. Is the group suitable for me?

Yes, you are likely to gain insights and support by attending a group. However, the support groups are not a substitute for personal counselling, so if you are unsure, do not hesitate to contact us.

I find it difficult to talk sometimes. What if I get emotional?

You are not required to speak if you prefer not to. Our groups are a safe space to express yourself without being judged. It is common to become emotional and you will be supported if this happens. If you become angry, we encourage you to express this in ways which do not cause fear or upset to the other participants.

What if I need support in the days following the group?

You are welcome to contact us for support following attending a group, regardless of the cause. Participants tell us that they only realise they are upset after the group so it can help to talk this through.

I am a mother whose child was adopted. Can I attend a group?

VANISH currently offers one mixed group only, which is held bimonthly in Albury. Our mixed groups are open to all individuals with an adoption experience, and mothers (sometimes called natural mothers or birth mothers) are welcome to attend. 

ARMS (Victoria) is a not-for-profit organisation that offers monthly support groups for mothers in the Melbourne CBD. Please visit for details.

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.