When deciding to embark on the journey of reuniting with a separated birth relative, it can be both exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time. The most important thing to keep in mind is that just because you are actively searching for your relative doesn’t mean that she or he is also currently searching for you. Keeping this simple fact in mind can help alleviate a lot of unnecessary heartache going forward.
First of all, do keep in mind that if you’re an adoptee searching for a birth parent, for instance, your birth parent may not have shared news of the adoption with others in her or his life. Therefore, it is important to be discreet when sharing the reasons why you are trying to locate someone. You do not want your relative to find out through the grapevine that you are looking for her or him!
While it may be difficult to mitigate your excitement, try to understand that as the searcher, you have had time to process your feelings about the adoption and have come to a place on the journey where you are ready to reunite. Your birth relative has not necessarily had the same opportunity. This is not reflective of their feelings or lack of feelings towards you. They just need to have the same chance you have had to process the adoption with the perspective of hindsight and to contemplate a possible future relationship.
Whatever path you take to search for your birth relative, be sure to stay well-organized. In the interest of maintaining a low profile, you want to avoid unnecessary, repeat contacts to people who may then start to suspect what you’re up to. For the same reason, you want to know exactly what you want when asking around, so that your search is most effective.
Many people place a call to their birth relative once they find her or him, in order to announce who they are and in hopes of setting up a meeting. This call may come as a complete shock to the searchee, so it may be worth considering if a letter might not be better to segway into more direct contact. However, there is always a risk with written communication that it may be intercepted by someone who was not previously privy to the knowledge of the adoption. Therefore, be sensitive, and perhaps keep the letter light if at all possible.
Finally, remain patient and perhaps employ the services of a professional searcher. One school of thought suggests that having a neutral third party make that initial contact with a separated relative may ease her or him into the idea of reestablishing contact. It may provide the relative with time to gather thoughts and prepare for a direct contact or even a meeting. On the other hand, some suggest that this approach is too formal or distant, and a direct person-to-person contact shows more emotional commitment. Perhaps the best way to proceed is according to your own comfort level, since it is hard to gauge which approach your birth relative would react to best.
Do keep in mind that that first contact or meeting may be the end of your search journey, but it’s only the beginning of a post-reunion relationship. Take it slow, and don’t try to squeeze all of your questions into the very first time you come face-to-face with your birth relative. It may be overwhelming, and he or she may need to take some time to first process having reconnected before being ready to get into the details of their side of the story. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself or your birth relative. Instead, try to enjoy this leg of the journey for what it is: an adventure.
Credits: Karolina Maria
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Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.