Searching for family, especially biological family when you have been placed for adoption or are in search of an adoptee can be frustrating, very emotional, and very difficult and may seem at times, hopeless. 

Adoptees often wonder if their search is successful and they locate their birth families, will they be receptive to contact.  Birth or First parents always fear that the adoptee will be ‘mad’ at them for the separation and adoption. 

My advice for those in search is to try and manage your expectations logically, not emotionally, even though it is very difficult to separate the two when your heart is involved.

As a family search specialist with 30 years of experience, I cannot tell you how many thousands of adoptees that I’ve been in contact with or who have come to our firm for help who anticipated the ‘worst case’ scenario.   Many of these adoptees automatically expect to face rejection from their biological family.

They anticipate the worst reception possible at the conclusion of their search but are compelled to find their connections despite these fears.  When successful, this group of adoptees often have not contemplated or made plans for what they would do if they were immediately and joyfully received.  When this occurs many may immediately step back from their reunion because they feel ‘out of control’ with the speed in which everything is occurring.

Others who are searching may also have an overly optimistic expectation that they be joyfully welcomed with open arms and enfolded into the lives and hearts of their biological family.  When this doesn’t happen, or does not happen immediately, this group of people is left wondering what they did wrong, often get angry at their birth family and tend to unconsciously sabotage their future relationships with biological family because of perceived feelings of rejection.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Adoptees who anticipate rejection do not formulate any alternate plan of action to follow when the biological family is immediately receptive.  When starting a search all possible outcomes must be explored and alternative plans of action developed for the eventual successful search.  If you are entering a reunion where you were immediately welcomed, it’s very common to quickly become overwhelmed with new relative contacts, requests for face-to-face meetings, friend requests on social media from people you have never met (but who you are afraid to offend by not accepting).

Pace your contact and reunion and keep your balance.  Many adoptees quickly try to work into reunion with both their birth parents, when it is often better to concentrate on one at a time, unless, of course, your first parents married, and that happens more than we may have initially believed.

Regardless, as hard as your search was, reunion is a process, not a onetime event.  Even those families who immediately bond have relationship issues or some sort.  We are all human after all, it would be common to have issues with parents who raised you; biological parents, siblings and grandparents are no different.

About siblings, if you have been in contact with your biological mother or father whom has other children that they raised, you are, by your very existence, going to be displacing them in their birth order, which could cause an identity crisis on their part.  Give them some time to warm up if necessary. If you have reunited with a biological parent who indicates to you that none of the other children know about you, strongly consider ‘not’ running a Hail Mary pass around your first parents and contacting siblings, especially if you have been asked not to, until he or she has a chance to get them together and explain the situation.  Not only is this a violation of the trust you are trying to build, but your siblings could very well get upset at you for causing stress and turmoil to your parent.  If nothing occurs after countless promises, then consider your choices wisely because you risk losing all contact with everyone involved.

Remember, reunion is a process in relationship building that may take a very long time to normalize, be patient and be caring and take each day together as a gift.