Information for people who have been adopted

Whether you were born in Australia, or oversees and adopted into an Australian family, PASS has services which may be of assistance to you.

Being adopted can mean that you have challenges, thoughts and issues that are sometimes hard to share and difficult to understand. Issues that adoptees may face are not well recognised or understood in the general community, and many people report not ever really talking about being adopted as they were growing up. For some, this can have a significant impact on their lives and relationships, and for others this influence may be more subtle.

Growing up in a family where you look and ‘feel’ different to others can be confusing and difficult to understand, and you may have many unanswered questions. PASS understands that the experience of those who are adopted is varied, and have skills and expertise in responding to these differences. Our counselling practice draws from a range of therapeutic principles and practices and the team are experienced in responding to adoption related separation and trauma.

Searching and Reunion Support

Searching for birth family relatives can be a sensitive and emotional process, and may bring unexpected and confusing outcomes. People who are adopted search for their birth family for many reasons, regardless of the quality of the relationship with their adoptive family. Some tell their families, others do not. Deciding who to tell and involve is up to you and there is no ‘right’ way.

Making the decision to undertake a search can be daunting, as the outcome is unknown, and you may find information that you were not expecting. You may also find some information that fills some gaps and has a positive outcome. It is difficult to prepare for an experience when you may have a strong picture of what the outcome will be, whilst knowing that what may transpire could be vastly different. Reunion can be a joyful experience and at the same time be very emotionally challenging. You may have built up a picture in your mind about what your family member may be like, and have an expectation about a continued relationship. This is not always the outcome, and the emotions that may follow can be overwhelming.

We can also offer assistance for searching oversees of you are an inter-country adoptee, and whilst this may be more challenging, we have links and contacts in a number of countries to assist with searching.

PASS supports people as they search and can assist with managing the strong emotions associated with search and reunion. We offer practical advice and guidance in how to go about searching, and suggestions on where to find further information. PASS can provide as little or as much support as you require throughout the process. We also offer our services to family members that we find through the searching process, or who have been contacted by their birth parent or other family member. Being found can bring a wide range of responses and emotions. Our service can support found family members with confidentiality as they work through the impact of being contacted by their child, parent or other family member/s.


Our confidential counselling service is available to anyone affected by adoption and, using a strengths based model, recognises the life long complexities of adoption experience including the effects of trauma; the impacts of separation, loss, shame and secrecy; the experiences of persistent grief; the impacts of adoption on relationships and the changing nature of identity formation and emotional health. The Post Adoption Support Service is located in Hindmarsh with telephone counselling available for those unable to travel to our office. Counselling is available one to one and we can also provide counselling to partners, family members and significant others in your life.

Support groups

Our support groups for those who have been adopted enable participants to be with other adoptees and discuss the complexities of growing up in an adoptive family. Many people come to a support group having never spoken to another adopted person about being adopted. Peer support offers an invaluable space of trust, understanding and support and can help to reduce the felling of isolation many adoptees feel about their adoption experience. Things discussed I the support group are:

  • Identity
  • Belonging
  • Family
  • Grief and Loss
  • Making sense of your life while having no genetic history information.
  • Negotiating race and ethnicity growing up in a culturally different family
  • Managing the complexity of oversees searching
  • Sharing information about traveling to countries of birth
  • Relationships

And many more.

Mentor Program

Many of our clients who are adult adoptees report that it would have been useful in their understanding of adoption if they had been able to talk with someone about being adopted. Our Mentor Program is a group based program, and has older adoptees that are available to provide support to younger people, and allows for the sharing of experiences and peer support opportunities.

This program enables young adoptees to talk about their adoption experience and to ask questions about living in a family that they were not born into. Intercountry adoptees can and do experience racism and lots of questions from others about why they look different to their families. It is helpful to have older adoptees to talk about this with and to learn how they handled these issues when they were younger. Sometimes it is easier for these young people to talk to someone who has had a similar experience than talking to their families.


Making contact

Undertaking a search for a birth mother