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NZ to be represented at world adoption conference

Media release – March 29, 2006

NZ to be represented at world adoption conference, New York in September

New Zealand will be represented at the world adoption conference in New York in September.

Julia Cantrell, who was lead organiser of the national adoption conference in Christchurch last year, will deliver two papers to the international event at Fordham University in the Bronx on September 15-16.

Cantrell is understood to be the first New Zealand adoptee expert to be invited to a major world adoption conference in the United States.

She will tell the conference how New Zealand changed its laws in 1985 to allow adoptees to trace their first families.

``Adoption in New Zealand in the 1960s and 70s saw thousands of babies every year placed in stranger families. In a country of only four million, this means now we have over half of our population affected in some direct way by adoption.

``So what happened in the aftermath of opening the adoption laws in 1985? What have we learned? And what are we doing differently in adoption practice in the 21st century as a result?

``These will be some of the issues I’ll be answering at the conference. This conference will be an excellent opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge and experience from those who have globally led the way in adoption and reunion understanding.’’

She said many of the issues from the conference would be relayed to and discussed at the international adoption conference in Christchurch next year.

``We had a huge number of requests from people for more of the same following our national conference in August last year.

``A large number of people in New Zealand who continue to live with the complexities of reunion and its aftermath day by day are drawn to these conferences.’’

Cantrell will be attending the New York conference as a representative of the Canterbury Adoption Awareness and Education Trust.

The trust was established in April 1997 to provide an umbrella organisation for an international conference at Lincoln University in 1998.

The trust has continued to pursue its aims of promoting awareness and education about adoption and reunion issues in New Zealand.

New Zealand has led the world in opening adoption records since 1985, but two decades on reunions between birth parents and their relinquished children (now themselves adults) are still characterised by complexity, intense emotions and misunderstandings.

``There is a huge need to provide support and information with a New Zealand flavour which is why we are running another international conference in Christchurch next year,’’ she said.


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