Latrobe Valley residents meeting to talk about the often painful impacts of forced adoption have been given an opportunity to see things from another perspective.
For the first time in Traralgon, adopted people, mothers, fathers and adoptive parents spent an afternoon together sharing their experiences.
It was part of at a recent support group meeting facilitated by Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self-Help.
Between the 1950s and 1970s thousands of unwed, young mothers were forced to give up their babies in circumstances often surrounded by deceit and secrecy, according to the Senate report, Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption.
Group participant and co-facilitator Myra Krafft said as an adopted person who had not met her birth family, she had not had much contact with mothers who were forced to relinquish their children before this meeting.
"Through this mixed group I have been able to meet them and talk to them about their experiences, knowing that they may be similar for my birth mother, given that I don't know," Ms Krafft said.
"One mother said to me 'don't ever think that you weren't thought about'... there was a lot of comfort in hearing that might be the case."
Regional support group coordinator Charlotte Smith said the three types of support group meetings - adopted persons, mothers, and mixed - were being held at Traralgon Neighbourhood House throughout the year.
Ms Smith said the meetings did not have therapeutic aims, but were a chance to share stories and hear from those in similar circumstances, as well as find out more about how the network could aid research into reuniting with family members.
"It can be very liberating for people to find that others have a shared experience," Ms Smith said.
"Every single individual has a different experience, but there are some common themes and threads."
Ms Smith said the circumstances of forced adoption led people to believe they were alone, and popular culture portrayals of adoption as a celebrated event made it all the more difficult for someone who did not feel so positive about it.
"For an adopted person, if they feel sad about some aspects they might think they're alone in that feeling," Ms Smith said.
"It's an eye-opener to hear from others and realise 'wow, other people feel the same too'.
"That's the power of the group, learning that 'I'm not alone'."
To find out more about post adoption support group meetings in Traralgon phone 1300 826 479, email
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vanish.org.au