To get the support you need, your relationship with health professionals is pivotal.
A common concern when seeing a health professional is whether or not they will understand the impact of your experiences on your health and wellbeing. Increasing numbers of health professionals are aware of the experiences and impact of forced adoption policies and practices, and there are more resources available to assist them, including online training, webinars and written guides.
You can download this fact sheet to take to your GP or another health professional. It’s been produced by the Department of Social Services and explains the history, experiences and impacts of forced adoption policies and practices, support needs of people affected, appropriate language and available assistance.
Online training is available for health professionals in Australia.
The Australian Psychological Society has developed a national online training program to support health professionals to provide services in an appropriate and sensitive manner to people who have been affected by forced adoption policies and practices in Australia.
The training is suitable for all health and community professionals including general practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, mental health nurses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers.
Word of mouth is a good way to find health practitioners with relevant experience and training. The Compass team, the VANISH (Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self Help) and peer support groups may be able to suggest health professionals in your area who have had specific training related to forced adoptions or have experience working with people affected by forced adoption policies and practices.
It’s important that you feel safe and comfortable and can trust your GP or another health professional. You can ask questions about their training, experience and approach to providing care, as well as asking about things like cost and appointments. If they are unwilling to answer your questions or you feel they are not taking your concerns seriously, consider choosing another health professional.
It is possible to receive good quality health care without sharing the details of your story, and health professionals who understand trauma are able to work with you in this way.
Only share your story when and if you feel ready to do so, and only within a safe environment, with a person you can trust. If you feel yourself being pushed too hard, or you are uncomfortable with their methods, try to discuss your concerns with your health professional. If you’re not comfortable after discussing your concerns, consider choosing a different health professional.
Remember, you don’t have to do this on your own – you can always take a friend or family member with you for support when you attend appointments.
The Blue Knot Foundation is an organisation that supports adult survivors of child abuse. Their website has excellent information about seeking care and support that may be useful to you, even if you are not a survivor of child abuse.