Man is a social being. The experiences of relationships with other people influence our wellbeing and world view.

© Our Faces – Our Stories, 2022

Trust in Other People Is the Foundation for Every Relationship

Relationships with others are an important part of our lives and experiences. They are based on trust. Traumatic experiences influence the ability to form safe and trustful relationships in the future.

To ensure survival and healthy development, man is dependent on the protection and closeness of at least one trustworthy caregiver in the first years of their lives. This role is usually taken over by the parents or a surrogate parent. They help the child to feel a sense of belonging in a social system, to find its way within it and to build lasting emotional bonds. If this trust and relationship building is not possible in the early years, this lack usually has a crucial impact on the future ability to bond. ...

Names Give a Sense of Belonging – or Exclude

Our name, our date of birth and further personal information determine our official identity. The name was given to us by other people and appears on documents or applications. Not always does it reflect one’s own identity, especially when painful experiences are associated with it.

Excerpt from Mario Delfino's birth certificate. It includes, among other things, the names of his parents, references to the adoption decision, and multiple given names for Mario Delfino. Some of them are partially crossed out.

The excerpt from the birth certificate of Mario Delfino shows the different names he was given as a child.

Many people were not called by their own name in homes and institutions. They were given a number or addressed with swear words or were shouted at. Some of those affected by placements bore several names in their lives. A change of name by the authorities or foster parents occurred again and again. Some of the victims later consciously chose an own name which reflected their personal identity. Some only found out late, for instance in case of an adoption, that they once had been called differently. This was the case for Mario Delfino. When he married, he saw his birth certificate for the first time and – at the age of 35 – learned from it also the name of his birth parents.

Separated from the Family and Reunited: a Difficult Path

With a placement or administrative detention, contact to the birth family got more difficult or broke off completely. Resuming family relationships after many years of separation was sometimes difficult.

Nadine Felix was adopted as an infant. In 2011, her half-sister searched for her through the media. Tages-Anzeiger (2011)

Contact with the birth family was deliberately prevented for a long time or at least made more difficult by the placing authorities or organisations. Siblings in the same home often did not know that a brother or a sister was placed there too. For a long time, no contact with the birth family was envisaged in case of an adoption. Therefore, the search for the own origins has occupied and continues to occupy many of those affected. Nadine Felix, for instance, only learned at the age of 14 that she had been adopted as an infant. In 2011, she was contacted by a local Zurich television station: her half-sister was looking for her. Hence, Nadine Felix met her birth family only at the age of 35.

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