Helping others is most rewarding

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I have been fortunate to experience the workings of a post-adoption services organisation from multiple perspectives. The first was as a service user. It was whilst holidaying in China that I met the then manager of the local organisation, who was a member of our travelling group and when we returned to Melbourne, I visited her at work. She helped me with the search for my son.

Almost a decade later, I served several terms on the organisation's Committee of Management, which is responsible for setting the strategic direction, overseeing its implementation and ensuring good governance.

Then, taking my involvement and personal education a step further, I was appointed Manager of the same post-adoption services organisation. Operating under the self-help model, we encouraged service users to manage the pace of their find and connect enterprises. Bound by the state-mandated legislation then in place, our principal user group was necessarily adopted persons. Helping them search for their mother (and sometimes father and/or siblings) was the staff's principal role, underpinned by the emotional support that could be required at any time during the pre-search, search, contact and reunion phases.

The organisation also ran support groups (and continues to do so). As a father, I attended my first support group meeting not long after I returned from China. I and others have found that whilst telling your story can be therapeutic, this is a setting also for empathy and learning. Many attendees feel validated, as they hear others describe feelings that they had thought they alone had experienced. There are fresh points of view to consider, some of which may be personally confronting. In a mixed support group there is the opportunity to hear views from the other side of the adoption separation divide and so build mutual understanding.

I have benefited from a government-funded post-adoption services organisation, initially as a user, then later as a provider. Informed by my experiences and those of others, I have written extensively about the impact of adoption separation, often (but not exclusively) from the little-documented perspective of the father. My publications include four books and over sixty articles.

Helping others is most rewarding.


Effective professional and peer support services are critical resources to help alleviate the loss, grief and other consequences of adoption separation. As a recipient and a provider, I have felt the benefits of this dictum.