What Happens After You’ve Found Your Birth Parents?
It takes so much effort for an adult adoptee to find their birth parents. But, that’s only the start of a lifelong journey. It's easy to overlook what happens after you find them.
The search to find your birth parents can be a difficult journey. The twists and turns of adoption records, DNA testing services, reunion registries, and more make for a challenging path. When you find your birth parents, you might be filled with many different emotions and thoughts. What happens next?
Adopted adults and relationship issues with their birth parents are a common component to reunification. Understanding how to navigate them can be a challenge. Setting expectations, keeping an open mind, and remaining open and honest, are just some of the ways to have a successful reunion.
This guide provides helpful insight and things to consider when you have found your birth parents and what to expect moving forward. This can be an emotional journey, but it is one you never have to make alone. Counselors are able to walk you through the process, discuss your feelings, and provide helpful information on how to navigate the reunion process.
In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about what you can expect after finding your birth parents and how to navigate your adopted adult relationship with your biological parents.
What to Expect After You've Found Your Birth Parents
For years, you've probably thought about the day you would finally meet your birth parents. Although everyone will envision their meeting differently, it is important to keep an open mind throughout the entire process. Being set on only one specific outcome can lead to disappointment, and with such an emotional impact, you want to remain level-headed and be prepared for any possible outcome.
Adopted adults and relationships with their birth parents and family can be a tricky connection to navigate. Every adoption reunion is different and specific to your own situation. Below you will find tips on how to manage post-adoption reunion relationships.
Talking to Your Birth Parents
When you began the journey of finding your adoptive family, you likely did so with a goal in mind. Now that you are going to meet them or have already met them, determining what you are hoping to get out of the relationship should be a top priority.
Although it may sound complicated, discussing and establishing expectations early on is a great way to build a connection and avoid having adult relationship issues with your birth parents. Some tips for doing so include:
- Discuss each other's boundaries. A post-adoption reunion is a lot to handle, but being comfortable can help everyone relax. If you don't like how something is going or feel like you may not be ready to discuss certain things, let them know.
- Be open and honest. It may sound cliché, but honesty is always the best policy. Explain your intentions for connecting, let them know if you feel a certain way about something. Keep in mind, this is just as much of an emotional situation for them as it is for you. Be open, and be kind.
- Practice open communication. While you likely have a list full of questions and topics, make sure the conversation goes two ways. It is natural that you both have plenty to discuss, try to keep the conversation flowing so that it is not one-sided.
Communication is a great start towards building a relationship with your birth parents if that is what you ultimately want. Not all connections lead to a deep connection, and that is ok. Determine what your goals are, discuss them with your birth parents and try your best to reach your goals together.
Keep Everyone's Feelings in Mind
We cannot stress enough: every adoption reunion situation is unique.
While we cannot determine exactly how this process will go for you, there are generally similar points to consider throughout. Keeping their feelings and situation in mind is something that will impact every adopted adult's relationship with their birth parents and family.
When you connect with your birth parents, keep in mind, this is as impactful to them as it is to you. They have a life of their own. If they chose a closed adoption, there is a chance you connecting with them could come as a surprise or even act as a disruption to their everyday life. Be courteous to their feelings and situation.
Connecting with your birth parents may also have an impact on your adoptive family. Many adoptees feel a sense of guilt when trying to connect to birth parents as if they are betraying their adoptive family. This is not the case, but discussing your intentions and reasoning with your adoptive family can help them understand the situation.
Your family should always support your desire to know more about your birth parents. But, like connecting with your birth parents, you will want to keep an open mind.
Your family’s reaction may not be ideal. Some families may question your decisions or have mixed emotions. Respecting their feelings and sharing yours is a great way to get through any potential disagreements.
Keep an Open Mind: Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst.
As an adoptee, it is completely natural to create a picture of how you view your birth parents and envision connecting with them. Unfortunately, these visions aren't always realistic or how the situation plays out.
Not all birth parents will be willing to connect, not all meetings will go how you hope, and, in some situations, your birth parents may not be anything like the people you have imagined. And that is OK, as long as you are ready for these possible outcomes.
Preparing for the worst-case scenario is necessary to remain level-headed about reconnecting with your biological parents and family. Although relationships are formed every day between adoptees and their birth parents, there are other situations where the connection is denied, discouraged, or not even possible.
It may be difficult, but remember that their reaction is not your responsibility. Everyone is at different points in their life. While you may feel you are ready to connect, your birth parents may not be. You can only control your response and be prepared for theirs. Everyone handles emotional situations differently.
Building a Strong Relationship
If your connection with your birth parents goes well, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to keep it that way. The relationship you have with your birth parents is much like all other relationships, it can be built on:
If you say you are going to do something, do it. This helps build the trust that you care enough to do what you say. Communication is key. Having positive interactions and an overall interest in their life and wellbeing shows you want to be there to support them.
Yes, this relationship is a bit more complex than most, but at the end of the day, you are both still humans that have a deeper connection than most. Trust your gut, follow your heart, and give in what you hope to get out of your connection with your birth parents.
Contact an Adoption Counselor
Adopted adults and relationships with their birth parents can be challenging. Anytime you have questions about navigating a relationship with your birth parents, adoption counselors can help guide you in the right direction. They will be able to discuss your situation, give helpful tips, and can provide the resources you may need along the way. You've already made the brave decision to connect with your birth parents, now it's time to build a connection that will last!
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