What Does Work in the Adoption Reunion?

It will be Ok in the end, if it is not ok, it is not the end.

Truthfully? I have no idea. What works for one reunion might not work for another. The measure of what makes an adoption reunion successful really does depend on the parties involved and how they measure that success. Are they both satisfied with the measure of contact? Are they both getting what they need out of the relationship? Are the interactions relatively “healthy” aka not destructive to the other party? Again, so many variables, so many different personalities, so many different experiences, differences in timing, in support; how is one supposed to make heads or tails?

There is little choice but to name some basic values to try to keep in mind and adjust them to fit your own adoption reunion situation.

14 Relationship Tools to Bring to An Adoption Reunion


You are coming from one end of the adoption bell curve and the other party in the reunion is often coming from the other end. One of the ways to start building the bridge where you can meet in the middle is to really try to understand where they are coming from and to understand their feelings. You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t have to feel the same way. But if you try to understand where they are coming from, it can help understand their actions, motivations, and their intent even if it gets jumbled up in the emotional overload. Just try a little….


I used to say that I didn’t have any patience at all; but I did, it was just all used up by adoption. Adoption and adoption issues can test our patience. Sometimes adoption seems like nothing but waiting. Wait to be born, wait to grow up, wait to search, wait for contact, wait to hear back from contact. But first contact is never the end, it’s just the beginning and sometimes, you have to wait some more. Wait for feelings to be processed, wait for the other party to figure it all out, wait for them to get back to you that they have processed it and are ready to take the next step. We might manage to sprint though a search, but reunion is more like a well paced marathon and often what keeps us going is….


I know sometimes it is really hard to keep positive when hope seems like a sure precursor to disappointment, but wait for it. It might come back. Even if you are in a place right now where it seems all hope is lost, remember that all things in nature go in cycles; the seasons, the moon, life. Human beings are natural, too, and our emotions can easily rise and fall the same way. Eventually that deep pit of despair can start to rise up on the wings of hope again.( I can’t believe I just wrote “wings of hope”)  And if that happens, it’s OK to let it. It’s OK to want to try again, if you feel up to it. The good thing is that the other party in your reunion might have reached that high point of hope too or you can also hope that they have received support and help during the interim providing they have….


Open to what you find on the other end of the bridge, open to what they have to say, open to the experience, open to the feelings that come with it all. Just OPEN to receive everything. Even that yucky stuff. Open to try again if you want to. Open to accept an olive branch if the other party reaches out. Open to other family members. Just Open and….


This one can get tricky as many honest things can be hurtful to the other person. The purpose of being honest isn’t to hurt them, make the person agree with you or change their views, it more about staying honest with your own truth. Even the most raw honesty can be presented with great kindness. Again, we’re not looking for unilateral agreement, honestly can be very helpful when there are great chasms of misunderstanding where there probably won’t be a middle ground. We can be honest about what works for us and what doesn’t. We can be honest about how things cause us to feel. We can be honest about what we want what we fear, what causes us to worry. And often, once we can admit one a way of feeling, the other party can too.  Which leads us to….


If there was one biggest way that I see all of us in AdoptionLand affected, it almost always involves trust as in lack of. Adoption teaches lies and secrecy and denial and none of those create a foundation of trust. We often don’t trust ourselves or trust other people not to hurt us. So building back that truth is often long and hard and filled with hidden emotional time bombs. It cannot happen overnight and also should not be take away over night if someone behaves badly at one time of another. We have to trust what the other person says is true and an honest point of view, we have to trust their intent that  even if they do manage to hurt our feelings, they might not have been trying to hurt our feelings. We have to trust that they are dong the best that they are able which comes down to .…


If you haven’t looked at the growing Listly of Reunion posts, then you might have missed this great one by “Buck Wheat” where she talks about that expectations in reunion and one of them is expecting “to find a wounded soul”. Adoption hurts many people, form the first families who had the initial loss to the adoptee who might not even know what they lost yet.  While we might have these fabulous happily ever after reunion fantasies in our head, there comes a time, when realism simply says that we cannot expect more from the other person than they are even bale to give. It’s not that they want to hurt us. It’s not that they are deliberately trying to be mean. They are just trying to make their way down an unknown path that has no road map and huge potholes that look like they lead straight to insanity. Realism means not setting yourself up for disappointment. Are you asking for more than this wounded person will ever be able to give you or are you able to live with….


Can you really accept what you have? Can you accept what the other person is willing  and able to give without growing resentment and anger? Are you able to accept the words they say, the stories they present as their truth, the feelings they carry? Are you able to let go of what you imagined, what you hoped for, what you envisioned and accept them for who they really are. Can you accept both the good things about them and the bad things about them. Are you able to see the whole person and  give them….


Acknowledgment builds intimacy and creates powerful interactions. It’s  mindful practice of seeing the good in the other person and letting them know that you see their efforts and value the attempt, not the outcome. This point isn’t about your feelings, but to shadow the other person that you see their attempts, their efforts and you appreciate it. Not acknowledgment is really about the positive actions,  as opposed to the feelings which leads us to….


To validate someone’s feelings is first to accept someone’s feelings. Next, it is to understand them, and finally it is to nurture them. In adoption it is important to acknowledge and accept one’s unique identity and  the individuality of their part of the adoption experience even if greatly different than one’s own. Invalidation, on the other hand, is to reject, ignore, or judge their feelings, and hence, their individual identity. When we validate someone, we allow them to safely share their feelings and thoughts. We are reassuring them that it is okay to have the feelings they have. We are demonstrating that we will still accept them after they have shared their feelings. We let them know that we respect their perception of things at that moment. We help them feel heard, acknowledged, understood and accepted. Validation is a great to help rebuild that trust, but sometimes we also need outside….


I personally think everyone needs their own personal support system in place during an adoption reunion and through life. Aside from that great friend that just lets you vent off frustrations, adoption support can be found online, in person support groups and also through professional counseling.  This might all sound pretty, but reunion is hard work and it’s really unrealistic to expect that people can navigate it alone. Plus, having other points of view to bounce thigs off of can help you become….

Self Aware

None of us a perfect, but it’s much easier to think that we are without blame and it’s the “other” person who ” is doing this to me”. It’s hard to see how our own faults and perhaps even how our own baggage or expectation  might have contributed to a sticky situation or hurt feelings. Owning up is difficult, but worth it especially because we all need a little….


Forgiveness can really go a long, long way. Can we forgive ourselves? Can we forgive others? Can we ask for forgiveness when we have apologized and owned up to our wrong doings? Can we give forgivingness even if the other person cannot ask for it? Can we let go of the past difficulties and get ready for more….

Hard Work

Oh, so pretty on paper, but so very difficult in real life.  It can be exasperating. It makes us cry. We get angry and are ready to just walk away and give up, but we don’t really give up. It’s still there, eating away at our brains, in our hearts, we still think about it, write about it, worry, even if it is buried deeply, sometimes it is almost just as much work to NOT think about it, to keep it down. So, steel yourself, and hope that you can get to a place of ….


See, I told you everything was circular. Back to the top with you.

Now rinse, repeat, start again. Marathon, not sprint.

Here’s Other Posts About Adoption Reunion Issues:

please free free to add you own or other links you found helpful:

Headline for Adoption Reunions: Secondary Rejections & Why Things Go Wrong
18 items   62 followers   64 votes   107.61k views

Adoption Reunions: Secondary Rejections & Why Things Go Wrong

Both birthmothers and Adoptees ask WHY an Adoption Reunion goes wrong. These are the hard conversations that no one likes to talk about. We're talking. Please join the conversation!

Source: http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/adoption/adoption-reunion/

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Sea Glass & Other Fragments: Five Survival Tips for Adoption Reunion

1) Find appropriate outlets for your "adoption crazy." Adoption reunions can bring out the nutty in the best of us. Adoptees and first parents may both enter the reunion process with wounds and scars created by their separation from each other.

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Secondary Adoptee Rejection in Adoption Reunions

Hearing the Rejected Adoptee's Pain I hate this conversation. In my opinion, I have it all too often. I hate it when one of my adoptee friends have come out of their adoption fog, gone through an adoption search, found their personal Holy Grail- their very own long lost mother- only to have her send that adoptee away, denied.

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Finding Happiness in Spite of Adoption Reunion Issues

Ask yourself, honestly and truthfully, are you thinking ” I will be happy when my birthmother/ adopted child/Bio sibling accepts me?”
Can you be happy even if that never happens?

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Unsigned Masterpiece

What do playing Angry Birds and struggling with adoption reunion have in common?

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What Does Work in the Adoption Reunion?

Truthfully? I have no idea. What works for one reunion might not work for another. The measure of what makes an adoption reunion successful really does depend on the parties involved and how they measure that success. Are they both satisfied with the measure of contact?

Jul 25, 2013 - familypreservation.blogspot.ca - 12595
Reunion and Expectations Reunification of Adoption-Separated Persons

When the media has asked me about reunion outcomes I always tell them that just like all other interpersonal relationships, they run the gamut from great to awful and everything in between and many - as we all know - can go back and forth and back again.

Jan 31, 2016 by Marnie Davis Ward - adoptionbirthmothers.com - 12915
Numbers in Adoption Reunions; How Many People Get Told NO and are Rejected??

If you find yourself rejected during an adoption reunion, the facts and numbers of whether it is "rare" or common will not ease your pain and heartache.

Jul 25, 2013 - adoptionbirthmothers.com - 11175
Numbers in Adoption Reunions; How Many People Get Told NO and are Rejected??

If you find yourself rejected during an adoption reunion, the facts and numbers of whether it is "rare" or common will not ease your pain and heartache.

Jul 25, 2013 - adoptionbirthmothers.com - 13698
What is a Successful Adoption Reunion? Pitfalls, Concerns and Things to Watch Out For

What does an adoption reunion look like when it works? What works in an Adoption Reunion and makes it successful? How come a good reunion relationship is so hard?

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Ways to Ruin an Adoption Reunion:The Birthmother Do's and Don'ts Edition

A birthmother in adoption reunions can make some wrong moves that make an adoptee feel rejected. Avoid these common reunion pitfalls that can emotionally hurt an adoptee in reunion.

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Ways to Ruin an Adoption Reunion; The Adoptee Do's and Don'ts Edition

In an adoption reunions,an adoptee can make some wrong moves that make their birthmothers feel like crap. Avoid these common reunion pitfalls that can emotionally hurt an a birthmother in reunion.

Nov 09, 2012 - 73adoptee.blogspot.com - 10912
73adoptee: perspectives on adoption: Secondary Rejection In Reunion: An Adoptee Perspective

Secondary rejection happens. It's one of those things adoption dissolution (aka the "returns department") that the adoption industry doesn't want to admit.The truth is, adoptees often feel rejected, no matter how good their adoptive circumstances are and no matter whether they eventually reunite, happily or not, with their original families. We have to deal with issues of rejection and abandonment every moment of our lives (and no, I'm not saying first mothers abandon, I'm saying this is how adoption makes many adoptees feel). Getting rejected twice feels like a confirmation of all those bad feelings.

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Real Daughter: How Does a First Parent Prevent/ Get Through Rejection?

It ain't easy. Nothing about reunion is easy.

How many adoptees who have first Mothers who want nothing to do with them are friends with first Mothers who have a surrendered child who wants nothing to do with them? Too many. Not gonna lie...many of us joke and say "Why can't SHE be my Mother?"

Nov 09, 2012 - peachneitherherenorthere.blogspot.com - 10583
"Neither Here Nor There...": Reunion Cycles: The Emotions Behind the Madness

I have been reunited with my first families for over 20 years now. At the beginning of the reunion, I was emotionally numb and unable to truly connect ~ still worried about "pleasing" everyone and so fearful of what others thought of me. Even though my ENTIRE family of birth welcomed me with huge family parties and open arms, I couldn't receive it internally.

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Real Daughter: Twice dumped

I tell them that they have every right to feel angry and confused- not just at their first Mothers, but the entire industry. Again- some of us listened and believed the lie of "She loved you so much she gave you away". To find the one who "loved us so much", only to find that she really DOESN'T, is crushing.


15 Year Adoption Reunion destroyed......

Jun 19, 2014 by Melissa Paige Leigh
15 Year Adoption Reunion destroyed......

After a reunion with my birth mother when I was 28- we muddled our way through what was a wonderful relationship.... my kids were young enough that it did not seem anything out of the "norm" for them..... we just became one huge blended family.... I later found relatives on my biological father's side, met many siblings, some we have not found yet, but for my birth mother I was her only child....just as I was an only child in my adoption...Unfortunately the blending of my family began to unravel...

May 18, 2015 - adopteerestoration.com - 12967
Adoptee Restoration: I Wish You Were My Mother

Statistics show that 95% of mothers who relinquished a child to adoption are happy to be found and welcome the contact and further connection with their son/daughter. I happen to be in the rare category of 5% of adoptees whose mother did not want to reunite.

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A Survival Guide to Secondary Familial Rejection for Adoptees
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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine, Adopt-a-tude.com, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

1 Comment on "What Does Work in the Adoption Reunion?"

  1. Major trust issues=ME

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