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Preparing for Resistance in Your Search and Reunion [Potential Challenges]

Because of the prevalence of open adoptions, many younger adoptees today won’t need to start an adoption search and reunion journey.  Most adoptees today are able to grow up knowing the love of both their adoptive family and their birth parents. But, for adoptees in closed adoptions, this isn’t the case.

In previous years, most adoptions used to be closed. This meant that adoption records would be sealed, concealing the identities of those involved, making it impossible for birth parents and adoptees to connect. All these years later, there are many adoptees who were in a closed adoption and want to find and connect with their birth parents.

The goal of this reunion may be to get answers about their background or health history, establish a relationship with their birth parents or just to understand their adoption story.

Every adoption situation is different, which means your search and reunion will differ from other adoptees’ journeys. While it’s good to be hopeful and optimistic about reuniting with your birth family, it’s equally as important to be prepared for challenges you may encounter along the way.

While many adoptees have had heartwarming stories of reunification with their birth parents, there’s a chance that what you discover may not always be what you hoped for.

This article breaks down the potential obstacles you may face along the way, and how to prepare for them.

How to Prepare for Your Search and Reunion [Are You Ready?]

The search and reunion process can be emotionally exhausting. It’s important that this is something you are truly prepared for. If you’re not at a place in your life where you can cope with the difficult emotions that can accompany an adoption search, you may want to hold off until you are in a better headspace.

Here are some things to consider before beginning your search and reunion journey:

  • What is your goal? What is it you are hoping to gain from reuniting with your birth parents? How will your life be different after the search and reunion?

  • Do you have a support system? Because of how complicated and emotionally draining this process can be, it’s important to surround yourself with friends and family who you can lean on for emotional support during this time.

  • Are you prepared for the following potential scenarios?

    • You won’t find who or what you’re looking for.

    • Who you are looking for may not be ready to connect.

    • The reunion may not be what you had expected.

  • Will you benefit from a reunion?  Is reuniting with your birth family in your best interest, or could it bring up difficult thoughts and emotions?

  • Are you familiar with adoption laws in your state? Every state’s laws on accessing adoption records in a closed adoption are different. You should familiarize yourself with these laws so that you are aware of the channels you will need to go through.

These questions may seem harsh. But, the goal is not to dissuade you from a search and reunion. Rather, it’s to ensure you are fully prepared.

Take your time when considering whether you are ready to begin your adoption search. While it’s understandable to feel eager and impatient, this is a big decision and can have a significant emotional impact.

Challenges You May Experience

While many adoptees have a positive and satisfying experience during the search and reunification process, it’s important to approach this process practically. You should be prepared for logistical and emotional obstacles you may encounter.

Not Finding Your Birth Parents

The ability to access adoption records in a closed adoption will depend on the adoption laws of your state. Every state has different laws and regulations when it comes to unsealing these records.

In closed adoptions, records are sealed to protect the identity of those involved in the adoption triad. However, years down the line, not having access to this information can be frustrating for adoptees. While you may not have a lot of information to start with, you can use what information you do have to begin your search.

Make sure to gather all the information you can that you currently have pertaining to your adoption. You can speak with the hospital where you were born, county records or the adoption specialist who facilitated your adoption to gather more information. It’s not guaranteed these places will be able to help you, but it’s a start.

You can apply to be granted access to identifying information about your birth parents within your state’s adoption reunion registry. You also have the option of petitioning the court to unseal your records. This process is often a last resort as it is the most grueling option.

Even after all of this, it’s possible you may hit a dead end. This can be incredibly disheartening. It’s important to go into this with the awareness that you may not find everything you are looking for, and it’s not for lack of trying. 

Expectations Not Being Met

There is a chance that if you do figure out who your birth parents are, your reunion may not be what you had hoped for. At one point or another, all adoptees create an image of their birth parents in their heads. When you meet them, they may not live up to the version of them you had imagined. There could even be a chance that your birth parents may no longer be living.

While there is nothing wrong with going into your adoption search with hope and optimism, it’s important that you also keep a level head. You should be prepared for the possibility that once you open that door, you may not like what you find on the other side.

They Are Not Ready to Connect

If you do manage to get the information you need to reach out to your birth parents, you will want to do so cautiously and gently. Today, this is usually done over social media such as Facebook. You will want to plan out what you want to say and how you want to say it ahead of time. This is a very sensitive topic, so you don’t want to rush into it.

You should be prepared for the possibility that you may not receive a response. If you do manage to make contact with them, there’s a chance they may not be ready or willing to connect or form a relationship. While this can be hurtful and disappointing, all you can do in this situation is to be respectful and empathetic to their response (or lack thereof). Adoption may have been difficult for them. There is no way to know what circumstances led them to choose adoption.

No matter how they react, it’s important to remember that it isn’t personal. They haven’t gotten the opportunity to know you. They are reacting to how they feel about the situation, not how they feel about you.

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