Adopted adults often make an effort to find their birth families. Reunions between birth parents and the child they gave up can go well and fulfill a real need in an adoptee. But they can also, in some cases, result in new problems in an adoptee's life. When contemplating a reunion, an adoptee should go into the experience with eyes wide open and be aware of possible complications.
Adopted children often fantasize about their long-lost relatives. They might imagine them as better-looking, smarter and in every way better than their adoptive parents. Even as adults, it might be hard for adoptees to give up their fantasies, but it's essential to make a real effort to do so before reuniting with a birth parent. The birth parents will likely turn out to be different than the adopted adult has long imagined they would be, writer Amy Bredes cautions on the website Bastard Nation, a site devoted to promoting the rights of adoptees. Many initial meetings are followed by a honeymoon period in which people are on their best behavior. Sooner or later, though, birth parents and adoptees will show their true personalities and the relationship can sour, warns Julia Feast of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering.
Not all birth parents want to be found. Once found, some might agree to meet their birth child once or talk to him on the phone briefly but want no further contact. They might have other children or a spouse who they don't want to know about their birth child. This can make adoptees feel as though they're being rejected -- again. However, rejection occurs in just 1 percent to 5 percent of cases, psychotherapist Karen Caffrey reports.
Conflicts Between Families
Adoptive families might resent the appearance of birth parents, especially if their adopted child begins to place equal emphasis on relationship with their birth family as with the family that raised them. Adoptees often become overly involved with their new-found biological relatives immediately after finding them, child psychologist Michael Grand explains. While it's normal for an adoptee to be excited about fulfilling a long-held desire to connect with their biological roots, it's important to keep your adoptive family involved in your new life as well, too.
Birth Families and Limits
Some parents gave up their child for adoption because of emotional issues that prevent them from having normal relationships with other people. Birth parents with psychological issues might step over the boundaries with their birth children, making demands the adoptee might not be willing to accept. It's up to the adoptee to set the boundaries they're comfortable with for future contact and for the type of relationship they wish to have going forward.
- Adoptee Restoration: Sometimes Adoption and Reunion Ain’t Pretty!
- Bastard Nation: Preparation Before Contact
- American Adoption Congress: What Every Adoptive Parent Should Know About Search and Reunion
- Operation Identity: Boundaries: The Key to Reunion Relationships
- Council of Irish Adoption Agenices: Post Reunion Issues for Everyone Involved
- The Guardian: Adoption Reunions: 'There is No Doubt That the Road Gets Bumpy'
- Adoption Voices Magazine: When Your Birth Mother Says “No”
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