Whether you are a birth parent or are pregnant and considering adoption for your baby, you are likely thinking of your future – Will you have a relationship with your child? Will your child try to contact you down the road? Will you want to meet your child once he or she is grown?
Perhaps you are here because you have already started your search, or your child has already tried to get in contact with you. Search and reunion is an exciting, yet often complicated journey. For the searcher, this journey takes time, patience, and understanding. If you are hoping to get in contact with your child, it is important to check the adoption laws in your state. Talk to experienced professionals at a reputable, open adoption agency that can help you navigate this journey.
For the one who is being searched for, search and reunion most often comes as a surprise. If you have recently been found by your child, try to keep an open mind throughout this process. Consider both your child’s feelings and your own readiness. If and when you are ready, your adoption agency counselors can help prepare you for your adoption reunion.
Even if you are pregnant and anticipating a search in the future, it can help to know what to expect and how to handle search and reunion should it arise. Here are a few things you should know:
Why do Adopted Children Search for their Birth Parents?
As an expectant/birth parent, you may be wondering about the most common reasons a child may search for his or her biological family. In the majority of cases, it is not because a child is unhappy in an adoptive family. Rather, it is out of curiosity, belonging, and an inherent need to know more about their identity. Below are some of the reasons your child may search for you as he or she grows up:
- Family information – Many children want to know the names of their biological relatives, where they live, what they are like, and if they have birth siblings.
- Family traits – Many adoptees want to know what their birth parents look and act like, and see if they share any similar physical or personality traits.
- Medical history – As adoptees grow and have their own children, it becomes crucial for them to know about any genetic diseases or conditions that may run in their family. In the past, adoption records did not always provide this detailed information.
- Reasons for adoption –Many adoptees search out their birth families to get a better sense of why they were placed for adoption and how the decision was made.
- Need for a connection – Once adopted children are old enough to maintain a relationship on their own, they may feel the need to reach out to their birth parents. Many feel that meeting their birth parents will help them gain a better sense of self.
Adoption reunions not only help a child find peace of mind, but also help birth parents see and know that their child is doing well. No matter where you are in the process, it is important to know that adoption reunions are also very emotional experiences. You may feel overjoyed, relieved, nervous, confused, or all of the above. Before you reunite with your child, take time to consider your thoughts and feelings. Sit down with your social worker and decide what this experience will mean to you. Below is adoption reunion advice from our expert adoption social workers that may help you during this journey:
If you are “found”:
- Before you connect with your child, prepare mentally and emotionally for what may and may not happen. Talk with others or join a support group of other birth mothers who have gone through this experience. Know both what to expect and how to set minimal expectations.
- Do not rush the relationship with your child. While this is a very exciting time for you and your child, try to pace communication. Research has found that the most successful birthparent-child relationships gave plenty of time between initial contact and the actual adoption reunion, involving only letters and phone calls in the interim.
If you are searching:
- Use social media cautiously. Social networks such as Facebook have made it much easier for adoption search and reunion to take place. While searching through these platforms may be tempting, it is not recommended. Contacting a birth relative for the first-time via social media is most often unsuccessful and can stir many negative emotions for everyone involved.
- Make sure your child’s adoptive family supports your reunion. Acceptance by his or her family members will be most beneficial to your relationship.
- Be respectful. Always be mindful of your child, his or her family, and of your own feelings.
As adoption has grown and changed over the years, so have the children who were placed years ago. Adoptions With Love—a private, open adoption agency— has experienced this growth first-hand. We have had adoptees that were placed with us years ago come to us at 29 or 30 years old in search of their birth family. We have seen adoption plans move from closed to open. Over the last three decades, we have assisted many adoption reunions and fostered many relationships between adoptive parents, adopted children, and birth parents. We are respectful of all parties involved.
At Adoptions With Love, you have the option of establishing contact with your child and his or her adoptive family from the very beginning. Through open adoption, you can have greater control over when your child will contact you or how often that communication will occur. You will also have the comfort of knowing your child is healthy and happy. All the while, your child will have the opportunity to learn about his or her personal history and build a stronger identity because of it.
Adoptions With Love has a special Search and Reunion group to guide children, families, and birth parents like you through this journey. To find about our counseling and search services, call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 1-617-777-0072.