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Adoption conference triggers strong emotions

August 28, 2005

National adoption conference triggers strong emotions

Emotions spilled over at the national adoption conference in Christchurch today.

Hundreds of people who have been affected by the trauma of adoption heard world expert Nancy Verrier of California describing emotions they had experienced.

Organiser Julia Cantrell said the conference had reduced many people to tears but the weekend had produced a great deal of benefit to almost everyone.

``Adoption is a traumatic experience for a baby when it is separated from am other.

``There have been a lot of upset people in there today. This is a deeply emotional subject which has struck a raw nerve with everyone.

`` Nancy Verrier described emotions and reactions by people affected by adoption. It was painful for some and a relief for others.

``Adoptive parents have come to understand the truth about how their adopted children may have felt growing up in a non-biological family.

``The conference has been a real watershed. It has helped hundreds of people understand their experiences.’’

Ms Cantrell, chair of the Canterbury Adoption Awareness and Education Trust, called on all New Zealanders to be aware of the complexities of the adoption experience.

Adoption had caused a great deal of pain to many involved and this should not be minimised or swept under the carpet. The complexities of adoption are something that society has not understood, she said. ``They have been more than 100,000 adoptions in New Zealand (103,899 between 1940 and 1990) in the last 60 years, most of them during the 1960 and 70s.

``Each adoption initially involves 5 people: the adopted person, birth mother and father, adoptive mother and father. However, when we add to this the siblings, grandparents, partners and children, over 2 million New Zealanders have a direct link to adoption.’’ (Note: 22 x 103,899 = 2,285,778)
Nancy Verrier, who has written books and lectured world wide on the issue, told the conference that most people who had been adopted felt abandoned. ``Separating babies and their mothers is an unnatural process that leaves a void in both mother and child,’’ Verrier said.

Tomorrow, she will talk to midwives, social workers, counsellors, obstetricians and GPs before heading to Sydney to speak at conferences in Australia.


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