- Does a child searching for birth parents mean the end of a relationship with the adoptive family?
- Should adoptive parents have any part in an adoption reunion?
What difficult questions to answer. The answers depend heavily on the attitudes of all involved: the adoptee, the birth family, and the adoptive family. It also depends on the expectations held by each member of the triad.
- What does the adoptee wish to gain from searching for birth parents?
- Is the adoptee simply seeking answers to questions regarding the adoptee's ancestry?
- What does the birth family want or hope for, a relationship?
Some say that the adoptive family's expectations don't matter when it comes to birth parent reunions. I believe that it all rests on the adoptee and what he/she wishes to happen.
- Does the adoptee want the adoptive parents to be involved?
- Does the adoptee want the adoptive parents to meet the birth family or would the adoptee rather keep the relationships separate?
The question remains - Does a birth parent reunion or the simple act of searching for birth parents have to affect the relationship between adoptive parent and adoptee? One adoptive mother writes:
"IF the children have been raised in a loving and safe environment then the relationship with the adoptive parents should not be an issue. As all four of our children know they have been adopted they will have time to figure out how they feel about reuniting with their birth parents. A lot will depend upon what the birth parents expect or hope for from the children. There may be fences to mend so to speak as they go on the journey, but again if the kids feel adjusted and happy in the adoptive placement the relationship should still be intact.”
Adoption Reunions Different for the Older Adopted Child?
I believe that birth family reunions are different for the child that was adopted as an infant than for the older adoptee. The older children remember exactly where they came from and often have selective memories of events that transpired while living with birth family.
These children may have also had several moves through the foster care system before being adopted, all causing trauma. For us adoptive parents who have fostered before adopting, the thought of a birth family reunion is especially charged with emotion and fear. We are left with the memories of the family that we struggled to help reunify, but for whatever reason, the reunification fell through. We have seen and have knowledge of broken promises, skipped visits and past abuse. All this leaving our children with broken hearts, skipped opportunities and past hurt.
One adoptive foster parent writes:
“I’m again stuck with the failures the children experience in the reunification process and the confusion and pain they feel when a relationship is encouraged. My older kids have all asked, ‘Why do they want to have a relationship with me now? Why couldn’t they have gotten their life together before so that I could have gone back with them?’ These are honest and valid questions that are almost impossible to answer.”
It's still up to the adoptee as to whether she continues searching for birth parents. To maintain a strong bond with the adoptee the smart adoptive parent would never say a bad word about the birth family. Save that talk for private conversations with close friends. When we attempt to cut our children's past connections or bonds we are cutting ourselves out of the picture.
_______________________Preparing Your Child for an Open Adoption – Getting Ready for an Early Adoption Reunion