Many adopted adults find themselves feeling curious about their biological parents. It’s only natural to wonder where you came from and what circumstances lead to your adoption. You’re bound to have countless questions which your adoptive family may be unable to answer. While some people are able to move on without these answers, others find it difficult. With the help of the internet and social media, initiating contact with biological parents is easier that it used to be. Many adopted adults have found their biological parents this way, with only limited details to help them. Once contact has been made and messages have been sent back and forth, a first time meeting may be suggested. While this can be an exciting prospect, it can also fill you with fear and cause you concern.
This is because the first meeting is filled with the unknown. While they are your parents, they are also strangers too. While you might have exchanges letters or emails, you still don’t really know a great deal about them. But canceling the reunion altogether could mean that your questions still go unanswered. So if you’ve arranged a reunion with your biological parents but feel worried about it, relax and follow the advice in this guide.
Reassure your adoptive family
You need to make talking to your adoptive family about your reunion with your biological parents a top priority. This can be an awkward conversation to have as you won’t want to do anything that jeopardizes your relationship with them. But keeping it a secret until after the reunion can make them fearful of losing you. As they have raised you and given you unconditional love, this thought will be almost too much to bear. It can also make them feel left out of the process, which can sometimes be seen as a betrayal. This can cause a great deal of upset and stress which could have been avoided. Being open and honest about your contact with your biological parents can provide crucial reassurance. It can change their perspective and make them included, rather than overlooked. Gaining their support before and after the reunion can also be beneficial to you. You won’t know how you will feel after your reunion. You might be happy, angry or disappointed with how it all turned out. So having the support of your family will be vital.
As hard as it might be, sit your adoptive family down and discuss your reunion plans. This can help you begin to prepare yourself and also gives them an opportunity to voice their concerns. They might not fully understand your desire to meet your biological parents straight away. So don’t be surprised if they are angry or upset, to begin with. Let them unleash these emotions and give them time to process the idea. Once they know how important it is to you, they are bound to give you the support you need. Some think that an adoption reunion will have adverse effects on their relationships with their adoptive family. But this not necessarily the case. The bond between adoptive parents and the adopted child can often become stronger during this process. In addition to your adoptive family, you should also talk to your partner and close friends about your decision to reunite too.
Consider the time and location
The time and location of your reunion can have a big impact on its success and how you are feeling. If you choose a location that is busy, it can be difficult to talk as openly as you would like to. A reunion that only lasts a short time or goes on for too long can make you feel upset and awkward. Also, traveling to unfamiliar place during rush hour can increase your stress levels and put you in a bad mood. So it’s vital that you and your biological parents give plenty of consideration to the time and location.
A neutral location such as a park or coffee shop in an area you are both familiar with is ideal. Another option is to arrange a meeting at the agency that dealt with your adoption. It’s unwise to hold your first meeting yours or their home. This should be left until future meetings when you know each other more. Plus you might not feel comfortable giving out such personal details at this stage. The time in which you meet should also be during quieter times of the day. Late morning or early afternoon are popular choices. Try to organize arriving at different times too so one of you is there to meet the other.
To give the reunion some additional structure, limit it to a maximum of two hours. This can help make it seem more manageable and less overwhelming. Confirm all of these details the night before, whether through a phone call or through your social worker.
Prepare some questions
While you might have asked your birth parents questions during your initial contact, prepare some for your reunion too. This can be beneficial in three ways. Firstly, it can help get the conversation flowing and act as an icebreaker. Secondly, it gives you the chance to learn more about their interests and lifestyle. Finally, it provides you with an opportunity to prioritize which questions you need the answers to. Having a mind that’s filled with questions can only add to your stress and nervousness. So any questions you have in regards to your birth parents or your adoption, write them all down. This can give you clarity and help you to reorganize your thoughts.
Read through your list of questions and put a star next to the ones you deem as most important. You can then take this list to your first time meeting and refer to it throughout. This can help you avoid any awkward silences that you might be concerned about. It’s also important to inform your biological parents that you intend to ask them questions which might be difficult for you both. You might want to know the reasons behind why you were put into care or why they didn’t try to contact you. Letting them know in advance can help them prepare sufficient answers to your questions. But remember that they too may have questions to ask you regarding your childhood and lifestyle. So while it’s important to get answers, also be willing to provide them too. One of the biggest questions you will need to ask is whether they want to continue having contact. Prepare yourself for either a yes or no answer, as either can cause an intense emotional response.
Get some confirmation
It’s not unheard of for adopted adults to make mistakes when searching for their biological parents. They might have common names such as John Smith which could result in you talking to the wrong person. The adoption agency may have been provided with the wrong information about your parents at the time of your birth. This too could lead to you meeting up with people who aren’t in fact related to you. Sadly, many people don’t realize that these mistakes have been made until after a bond has been formed. This can lead to heartbreak and frustration, while also leaving you with more questions. This is why it’s important to gain some confirmation before you become too attached.
Ask your biological parents to bring any documents that relate to your birth or adoption to your reunion. They might have a copy of your birth certificate or photographs of you as a child. Your adoptive family might have written letters to them about your progress too. This can be valuable evidence that makes you feel more comfortable in their presence.
Another way of confirming your connection is by asking them to complete a home paternity test. However this can be a tough question to ask during your first meeting. It’s also important to consider that your biological parents may ask you to provide a DNA sample too. Try not to take this too personally. They also won’t want to make the mistake of building a relationship with the wrong person. Getting the confirmation you need is one of the most difficult aspects of meeting up with your biological parents. So it’s recommended that an intermediary is present throughout. They can act as a buffer and ask any questions regarding providing evidence which you might find too challenging. You could ask a friend or your partner to be your intermediary. But often a professional such as a social worker is a better option. Organizing this ahead of your meeting can take a huge weight off your shoulders and help you relax beforehand.
Studies have found that while meeting biological parents is nerve wracking, it can also be a positive experience for all involved. Even if you don’t wish to build a relationship, you can gain answers to your burning questions. This can provide closure and give you further insight into why you were put up for adoption. So rather than feeling stressed and worried about your first meeting, view it as a way of learning more about who you are.