18 is not a magic number. I say this is because at Adoptions With Love we get requests all the time; I am turning 18 and I want to meet my birthmother or my son/daughter is turning 18 and they have asked about getting more information about their birthmother /birthfather or I have waited 18 years and now I want to contact my birth child.
18 may seem like a reasonable age to engage in this process but we have learned, from experience and other professionals in the field, that in many circumstance it is better to wait a few more years. It is recommended that young adults wait until after 21 to engage in this process. Part of the reason is that young people’s brains are not fully developed at 18. Another, more important reason, is that this process can be an emotional roller coaster and it is best to take this ride when on is more mature.
This is not to say that teens should not request to get more information about their birth families. This is totally reasonable. In fact, we recommend that your child has all the information you have regarding their birth family by the time they reach adolescence. However,searching for birth families or meeting them may be more beneficial a few years down the road. Adoptions With Love offers our families a search and reunion program. Before the age of 21, the young adult/older teens need to have permission from parents to participate in our program. Over 21 years old, we need to speak directly with the young adult. However, we encourage parents to participate with their children even when they are older than 21. Here are some of the important points we like to share with you before going forward:
- Search is an exciting and complicated process. Whether you are an adopted person or a birthparent you have probably been thinking about this for many years. This is an unpredictable process and one that takes time and patience. Some young adults have begun the search and decide to stop; just knowing it is available to them. They may come back to it later. Some decide to pursue finding out more information or reading documents for the very first time. Some decide to contact their birthparent(s) and meet. These are your choices which you will decide about along the way. It is a journey.
- Some birth parents are very excited and agreeable to participating in this process. They themselves may have been waiting for this time to come. However, sometimes when birthparents are located they are not agreeable to participating and this may feel like a rejection. At other times, birthparents reach out to the adopted person who is not in a place at that time to accept this overture. It is very important to know that all these things can occur so that you prepare for them as best as you can. We will help you with this process.
We have encountered many situations in this journey. We have had young adults enter this process but the birth parent is not in a place in her/his life to be part of it. This can be devastating and it may feel like a rejection. And we have had birth parents want to contact their birth child but the teen/young adult does not wish to be contacted. We are here for everyone, no matter the outcome.
The number 18 does not officially mean it is time to meet. It may happen sooner, later, or maybe not at all. It is most important to remember it is a process and a journey, not a magic number. Adoptions With Love is here to guide you. If you have taken this journey or are thinking about it, we would like to hear from you. Share or LIKE if you agree. Or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us your experience or desire.