This chapter discusses many of the emotions that can surface at reunion and offers suggestions to deal with them. All the conflicting feelings that you may experience can be overwhelming and confusing. While reunion is different for each individual, many reuniting birth family members share the same feelings and struggles.
Here are some of the many emotions that often surface at reunion:
Where fear is present, wisdom cannot be. ~ Lactantius
One of the most destructive emotions present in adoption is fear. Although fear is a natural reaction to certain situations, we make unwise decisions if we allow our fear to control our decision making. Fear of a new situation is to be expected, but how we handle the emotion is more significant. Being educated about what to expect can reduce the fear level.
With an impending reunion, you may worry that your heart is on the line. You may be fearful about taking the risk to allow yourself to reconnect with your birth family member. No one wants to be hurt or rejected. All of these fears are 100% normal!
It can be a devastating blow for birth parents to realize that the very act which was supposed to insure a good life for their child (adoption) may have created a lifetime of issues for them.
Some birth mothers feel a sense of having been betrayed by their families and/or society for the misinformation that they received before placing their children for adoption. Nothing that they were told about adoption may suddenly match their reality.
For adoptees at reunion, there are often concerns about betraying the parents who raised them. They may feel guilt for wanting or needing to reconnect with their birth family. Loyalty issues can present an extremely challenging dilemma for adoptees. However, wanting to reconnect with birth family is an instinctive need, and entirely normal. The need to know your life story is not unusual, and quite healthy. It is also natural to care about your adoptive parents’ feelings and not wish to hurt them.
As far as loyalty issues, it speaks well of adoptees when they are concerned about not breaching any sense of loyalty to the parents who raised them, i.e., their adoptive parents. However, it is not being disloyal to want to know your other family (your birth family).
If guilt serves as a reminder to slow us down and help us treat people in the best possible manner, it can be a useful emotion. When we allow guilt to paralyze us and freeze our actions, it can be a destructive emotion.
© Excerpted from the Adoption.com Guide to Search and Reunion, published by Adoption Media, LLC
Credits: Jan Baker
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.