What Is An Adoption Reunion?
An adoption reunion takes place between members of an adoption, typically done by people involved in a closed adoption situation. The reunion is usually the first time these biological family members will have met or talked since the adoption.
Who Reunites After Adoption?
- Adult adoptees
- Birth parents
- Birth siblings
- Occasionally, other members of the birth or adoptive families
Sometimes, if birth parents are no longer living, adoptees may reunite with birth siblings or other biological relatives. Adoptive parents and birth parents may be excited to meet each other, too. Spouses, children, or even grandchildren may meet biological family members after an adoption, but only after the initial reunion occurs and both parties are comfortable with introducing their families to one another.
The first adoption reunion should be private and taken slowly. But many adoptees have adoption reunion stories that ultimately include their entire family; both birth and adoptive!
Why Would You Want an Adoption Reunion?
Adoption is a wonderful way to create a family, but there is always pain and loss involved, as well. Reuniting an adult adoptee with their birth family can be a healing experience for everyone involved in the adoption.
For birth parents and birth siblings, it can be reassuring to know that the child placed for adoption grew up loved and happy, and that they don’t hold a grudge against their birth family for the choice they made. For adoptees, it can fill the void left in their personal histories by the biological family they never knew.
Adoption reunions are a way to reconnect, talk about the adoption many years removed from the early, sometimes painful emotions, and learn more about each other as individuals.
Should You Reunite with Your Birth Mother or an Adult Adopted Child?
Not everyone wants an adoption reunion.
Sometimes birth parents or adult adoptees simply have no strong desire to reconnect after the adoption. Other times, they don’t feel emotionally ready for such a step. Some people harbor negative feelings about the closed adoption and haven’t been able to resolve those feelings.
An adoption reunion may not be the best choice for yourself or for the person you’re trying to reconnect with.
Adoption reunions can bring complicated, long-buried emotions back to the surface. Not everyone is willing to, ready to, or able to process these feelings. So an adoption reunion should be very carefully considered before you take any action to reunite.
How to Approach an Adoption Reunion with Biological Family Members
This is where things can get even trickier.
If you’ve successful managed to find your birth mother or an adult adoptee through your adoption search (which can sometimes be difficult, depending on how much information you start with), initiating contact with them might be even more difficult.
It’s scary to contact someone who you’re biologically related to, but who is essentially a stranger to you. Several things can happen, including scenarios like these:
- You may find that this is the wrong person (often with the same name)
- They may not respond to your message, either by choice or because they didn’t receive it
- They may be uninterested in an adoption reunion
- They may initially express interest in reuniting, but later back out after their emotions and fears become too much for them
- They may have been searching for you, too and they may be equally excited about reuniting
- They may have been waiting to see if you were interested in finding them and requesting contact, but are happy that you’re willing to reconnect
You’ll need to be prepared for any of these possibilities before you decide whether or not to request a reunion after adoption.
Consider how you plan on introducing yourself via confidential phone/letter/online message and how to bring up the possibility of an adoption reunion with your birth parents or adopted child. Read the message to the closest member of your personal support group before sending it.
Approaching the subject of an adoption reunion is a delicate matter that can be an emotionally-complex step for you.
Have someone you trust to support you! Talk to other adoptees or birth family members who’ve reunited after adoption to hear their adoption reunion stories.
Some Final Advice about Adoption Reunions
A few things to consider:
Some Do’s and Don’ts for Reaching Out
When initiating contact with your birth parents or adopted child, keep it private and simple.
- introduce yourself
- state your intentions in reaching out to them and what you hope will come of it
- describe your emotional state
- let them know that you’ll understand if they aren’t ready to take this step with you
- fire off lots of questions
- make accusations
- pressure them into a reunion too quickly
- assume that they’ll feel the same way about the adoption as you do
- involve other family members until/unless you both feel ready to do so
- make your introduction public
Keep your message for them brief and to the point. Empathize and respect their right to their feelings, even if it hurts yours. Put yourself in their shoes! Sometimes the way we feel isn’t always rational or fair, so it’s important to take time to sort out those thoughts.
Children and Adoption Reunions
As a general rule, children of closed adoptions should wait until they’re adults before initiating an adoption reunion. Unless the child already has some kind of relationship with their birth family through an open adoption, suddenly introducing a birth parent may be too overwhelming. It’s also too important of a decision to make on behalf of a child, or to ask a child to make before they’re old enough to fully understand their own adoption experience. An adoption reunion is usually a decision best left for an adult to make for themselves.
Eliminating the Need for Adoption Reunions
If you’re considering adoption, an open adoption is always recommended whenever possible. This will remove the need for an adoption search and reunion later in life because the birth and adoptive families can maintain contact throughout the child’s life.Open adoptions allow for better communication and relationships between adoptive and birth families as well as making for happier adoptees and birth mothers who are satisfied with the amount of contact they have post-adoption.
How to Begin Your Search if You’re Interested in an Adoption Reunion
If you feel that you may be ready to pursue an adoption reunion but haven’t located your birth parents or adopted child yet, here’s what you’ll need to know to begin your adoption search.