Adoptees or first parents in search spend months or years in some instances in search of the other side of the adoption equation. Birth parents many times want to assure themselves that they did the right thing during a difficult decision making time of their lives and would like a chance to answer questions and have a potential relationship with their son or daughter. They want to know their child was placed with a good family.
Adoptees are in search of their identity, their own story and health history. They wonder who they may look like, what their family history is and what ‘really’ happened during the time of their birth and adoption. Adoptee’s also may have always felt an unexplained loss deep within their soul and think finding and reuniting with their biological families will fill this blank spot.
After a successful search, a positive ongoing relationship for any adoption triad member is icing on the cake but it takes work, an open door of communication, truth, trust and the weaving two hearts together who have been separated for years.
As a professional family search investigator, I have watched what were initially positive and ecstatic first contacts turn negative after the first meeting for the simple reason that adoption triad members often sabotage their own ongoing relationships with the other side for a whole handful of reasons. Surprisingly, sometimes they do so intentionally.
Reunion brings up unresolved issues that neither side of the equation has dealt with prior to first contact. Many adoptees have always felt a sense of abandonment. After all, wasn’t I good enough or pretty enough or, and on and on. In order for me to be ‘chosen’ that means someone else gave up on me. This can lead to a tremendous amount of anger, pain, and it takes a great amount of courage to walk off the edge of that ‘cliff’ into reunion when you know that you are facing yet another painful rejection.
Many first parents have tucked the painful decision to place a child for adoption deep in their memory protected by time. During reunion they may find all of that past emotion, anger and heartache resurfaces and must be dealt with. If there was anger toward the placing agency or social workers it must be faced, if there was anger towards other birth parent, that must also be faced.
First parents PLEASE do not withhold the other birth parent’s name from your adult adoptee, unless you truly do not know the information. This is the most common reason I’ve seen to date for a wonderful reunion to turn sour quickly. If you exhibit anger toward the other parent, it may make your ‘found’ adoptee feel as if he or she is the cause of that anger when that is not the case. If you expound on the trauma you experienced, valid or not, it’s going to indicate to your newly found adoptee that he or she was ‘guilty’ of causing the situation.
Also, if you’ve kept your son or daughter’s existence a ‘secret’ from your family, children or spouse, it is time to share that secret with them if you wish to have an extended and ongoing relationship with them. What happened when you were young or prior to your marriage has no reflection on who you are today and you’ll be surprised at how understanding the people who love you can be.
Adoptees, you DO deserve happiness. Many adoptees that experienced less than completely positive adoption experiences, somehow we may not feel as if they ‘deserve’ to be happy even though they have finally found and connected with their heart’s desire. As in all relationships, we may sabotage our chances of a successful relationship by pushing those we most desire to connect with ‘away’ after initial contact because we are not experienced enough with interpersonal relationships in general to sustain and nourish this new and fragile relationship and encourage growth and acceptance as a new family unit. Don’t push them away. If you need to, step back, take a break but do so lovingly and cut no ties because once trust is broken it is difficult to recapture.
Don’t dwell on the negative. Don’t dwell on the past. There is nothing that can be done about the time you’ve lost in your relationship prior to your reunion. There is nothing that can be done to correct wrongs or errors of the past.
Take each day in reunion as a ‘gift’ and cherish and nourish your new and blossoming relationship because it will sustain you for the rest of your lives if treated with care and love.