CHARLOTTE Smith and Jo Fraser know first-hand the pain of forced adoption.
Ms Smith was adopted after birth and Ms Fraser was forced to give up her first son.
While both have since reconnected with their parents and child, the pair are keen to help other parents and children who have been through forced adoption.
Ms Smith is the co-ordinator for the Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self-Help (VANISH) while Ms Fraser is the committee secretary for the Association of Relinquishing Mothers Victoria (ARMS).
The pair yesterday spoke to local health organisations about forming a Ballarat support group.
Ms Smith said all that was needed was a free venue and a qualified volunteer facilitator.
Ms Fraser said people travelled from Wodonga, Moe and Woodend to attend Melbourne ARMS meetings.
“There is nothing like sitting in a room with people who empathise with you,” Ms Fraser said.
“Our experiences are the same but different. We are non-judgemental. Everybody accepts you.”
Ms Smith said it was also important to be believed.
“Adoptees have a lot of expectations put on them by society,” Ms Smith said.
“There is a common understanding about adoption that you have been rescued and should be grateful.”
Ms Smith said there were also complications when adoptees reunited with family members, although it was also a healing process.
“You can feel like a misfit in your family of origin. Your brothers and sisters have grown up without you. Often they don’t even know you existed.”
Ms Smith said confidentiality was paramount in meetings and fathers were also welcome.
Contact VANISH on1300 826 474 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact ARMS on 9769 0232.