Many adopted children in closed adoptions have dreams of meeting their birth parents, and many birth parents dream of meeting the children they released for adoption as well. However, adoption reunions aren’t always what we imagine they’ll be. If you’re seeking a reunion with your birth parents or birth child, here are a few suggestions to help you on the journey.
Why Do People Seek Reunion?
There are many reasons people seek a reunion with their biological family members, including:
- Curiosity – Children added to their family through adoption often want to learn about their roots and their biological families, while birth parents are sometimes curious about the life of their biological child.
- Validation – Some people want to know why their birth parents “rejected” them early in life, or they want to reprise their role as a parental figure in their biological child’s life.
- Knowledge – Sometimes reunions are necessary to learn about things like health or family history.
In all of these cases, expectations from both sides can vary considerably. Some people want to form a relationship with their relatives, while others are simply curious or need information. Every adoption reunion is different. What works for one person or family might not work in another situation.
The Problem With Adoption Reunions
Unfortunately, adoption reunions don’t always go the way we’d like them to. Many adoption reunions include problems or complications that can sour the experience. But why? There are a few reasons.
First, reunions are very emotional experiences for everyone involved. The experience of meeting a long-lost parent or child for the first time can bring up very deep emotions and feelings one or both parties might not be able to handle. Overcoming these emotions is one of the biggest challenges of an adoption reunion.
Second, it’s common for parents and children to have conflicting expectations or goals with regard to their reunion. Sometimes one party wants the relationship to continue while the other is simply “fulfilling their obligation.” Other times one party might feel regret or anger over the adoption that the other person doesn’t feel. Dealing with these conflicting feelings can be difficult, since they can make it difficult to handle the reunion as you would like to.
Finally, even after a reunion, it can be difficult and confusing to keep the relationship open. Many adoption reunions only last for a few meetings or calls, and some don’t make it past even the initial contact. This can be very disappointing for people who put a lot of work or preparation into the reunion.
Helping a Reunion Go Better
If you’re preparing for your own adoption reunion there are a few things you can do to help it go better.
First, keep an open mind with regard to the reunion. Don’t expect the other person to know your thoughts or feelings or to share your emotions. They could feel very differently about the reunion than you do, and that doesn’t make either of you wrong. It can feel disappointing when your expectations or feelings aren’t reciprocated, but you shouldn’t let it ruin your experience.
It can also help to seek out guidance from other people in a similar situation to yours. Adoption support groups, books, and internet forums and articles can all be great resources when it comes to preparing for (or recovering from) an adoption reunion. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance from others. Some people will even seek out counseling before or after their reunion to get guidance and help from someone else without feeling judged.
Another thing that can make a reunion easier is setting rules or boundaries beforehand. Many people find structuring their first few meetings can make it easier to handle difficult emotions and conflicting expectations. Just make sure you communicate your boundaries clearly to the other person so they know what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
It’s also important not to place blame or accusations on the other person during your reunion. While it can be tempting to lay your problems out on the table or blame the other person for your hardships, it’s not fair to them and it’s not helpful to you either. Keep your meeting about the connection between you and try to focus on the positives.
Finally, remember that a reunion isn’t just a single meeting – it’s a process that takes time and effort from both sides. Relationships, even between blood relatives, don’t just happen. You’ll need to practice patience and compromise in order to get the best outcome from your reunion.
Oklahoma Adoption Help
Whether you’re seeking information about adoption or want a compassionate expert to help you through the adoption or reunion process, we can help. Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoption is the oldest and most experienced adoption agency in Oklahoma. Call us today at (405) 949-4200 to speak to one of our representatives and get the information and help you need. You can also follow us on Facebook for frequent updates, stories, and advice.