Following on from Part 1 of this blog where we looked at the common misconceptions around adoption, here we look at how to manage your expectations when planning a reunion with your biological family.
If you are at a point in your search journey to make the initial contact and meet with your newly discovered family, you may have already started to experience a whole flurry of feelings and contradictory emotions. It is normal, and natural, to feel anxiety and relief, excitement and trepidation for instance. At The Adoption Specialist we can advise and guide you through this stage of your journey with understanding and experience – please remember that you are not alone, and to get this far you have shown courage, determination, patience and resilience.
For an adoptee and birth parents alike, the search for biological family can naturally carry some expectations and you have probably run through the different outcomes of a reunion in your mind. You may be feeling optimistic about the future – but it is also prudent to think through the outcomes that won’t necessarily feel so positive.
Outcomes to consider
Preparing for different outcomes of a reunion can help you to feel better equipped to deal with them, should they arise. You are probably experiencing some inner turmoil between the potential for a successful and meaningful relationship, and the possibility of rejection or not being able to find who you have been looking for. It is easy to imagine the most obvious outcomes, but adoption is a complex process, let’s have a look at some examples here.
For the majority of people searching for their biological family, this is the most hoped for outcome. Welcoming each other with open arms and hearts, honest open conversation and a long and meaningful relationship moving forward with siblings and extended family that you thought you would never find.
Of course this is a genuine possibility and is a scenario that does happen, but not as often as some of the other outcomes. It is important to bear this in mind so that you won’t be immediately disappointed if things don’t just click into place.
On the opposite side of the coin to happily-ever-after is of course, rejection. In some situations, the other party may not want to proceed with a reunion or any form of contact. Some may proceed with the initial contact and then later change their mind about moving forward with a relationship – this could be because of their own emotions, past trauma or their own complex life situations for instance.
It is normal to feel hurt by this rejection and you should try to understand that this situation is rarely personal and may be more to do with the history surrounding the adoption. Communication and honesty is key, but be mindful of the impact the reunion may have on both parties when determining a pace.
- Hitting the brick wall
If you begin your search journey on your own, you may find at some point that you “hit the brick wall” and cannot access or find any more information about the person that you are searching for. This part of the process can be very emotional and draining and often leads to feeling like you want to give up. With the help of our experts at The Adoption Specialist you can be confident that we will tirelessly search on your behalf, so no stone goes unturned, endeavoring to locate your biological family as soon as we can.
So what about the scenarios in between – we’ll have a look at some other possible outcomes here:
It is not uncommon to feel disappointed or underwhelmed after a reunion. Once finally reunited with your birth family you may not feel the instant connection that you were hoping for, they may not meet the expectations that you had drawn in your mind, or they might not have been able to provide the answers that you were looking for.
They could be different from you in their beliefs, lifestyle or values. It is your choice whether you pursue a relationship, and it could be that the reunion closes a chapter for you – either way, take your time and trust your instincts.
- At arm’s length
In such an emotionally charged situation, it is common for adoptees and birth parents to have reservations about moving forward and may feel like they need to take a step back and slow things down after the initial reunion. Processing and working through emotions or trauma, getting to know each other and forming a solid foundation for a relationship are positive steps to take.
This is not a bad outcome, it is one that requires a little work, being open and honest, and open minded for a future relationship together.
- Traumatic histories
In situations where trauma, or maybe even violence were involved, it can bring back a lot of painful memories for a birth parent when telling their story – and in many cases this may well have been a secret that has been kept for decades. For an adoptee, these details may be very shocking and difficult for them to hear. Ensuring that you have a support system that you can rely on, your adoptive family, a partner or the services of a therapist will help moving forward.
- A lost relationship
Finally, another sad possibility when thinking about possible reunion outcomes, is the death of the person that you have been searching for. Any hopes that you may have had for answers to questions or getting to know them and beginning a relationship can quickly unravel. Feelings of grief in this situation are normal and it is important that you rely on your support system. You may want to look at other ways to get to know them however, talking with their family and friends, learning about their life, their passions – this can often be a great source of comfort.
Whatever the outcome is from your search for your adopted child or biological family, it may be tempting to dive straight into a reunion, after the emotions and time you have spent searching. However, taking it one day at a time, with an open mind and an honest view of your expectations can help deal with any possible outcome.
The Adoption Specialist has many years of experience and success reuniting families with their lost loved ones. With our Intermediary Service we can also help you make the first steps to contacting and meeting your biological family or child. Contact us today on (562) 438 6589 or fill out our Search Form here to get started with your journey.
Read the first part of this blog – “Discovering your Biological Family – Common Misconceptions” here, where we talk about points to consider outside of our common ideas about adoption, adoptive parents and adoptees.