“Every adoptee has the right to discover answers about who they came from, why they were adopted and to have contact with their own natural families.”Daryn Watson, Adoption Reunion Coaching
What is “reunion” anyway?
It’s more than just the moment you meet your first mother. Reunion is beginning the search, it’s the middle tension between two families, and it’s the arrival point you’ve imagined but may never happen. Wherever you’re at, we want you to have the support you need. These 5 tips for adoptees navigating reunion are more like resources and reminders you’re not alone!
1: Identify who you can talk to along the way.
Do not underestimate the importance of moral and emotional support! While connecting with other adoptees who mirror your experiences is ideal, you may also have a supportive friend or family member. Invite someone you trust to take this journey with you and help you process as you go.
Another great idea is an adoptee therapist or a reunion coach.
Check out Grow Beyond Words for an Adoptee Therapist directory (created by international adoptee Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker).
Also, consider Adoption Reunion Coaching, ran by adoptee Daryn Watson.
2: Understand that reunion is a process.
There are common stages or phases in the process of reunion, both for you and for your natural family. From fantasizing about it, to first contact and a ‘honeymoon’ phase, and what does or doesn’t happen next…learning about the typical stages adoptees experience will help you prepare yourself.
This article by Origins Canada on Stages of Reunion is a great place to start.
3: Think about your hopes & expectations.
Once you have a sense for the typical stages of reunion, think through your personal hopes and expectations for each phase. And remember that your hopes and expectations can and should adjust as you go.
This Reunion Discussion Guide created by Korean adoptee, Cam Lee Small, MS, LPCC addresses six themes together: Community, Anticipation, Disruption, Therapeutic Connections, Self-awareness, and Narrative Progression.
4: Check in with yourself.
No matter where you’re at in the search and reunion process, it’s smart to check in with how you are handling it. Be kind to yourself and put things on pause for a while if you need to.
Sometimes the many ways that being adopted has impacted us becomes overwhelming! When the stages of reunion become tedious or disheartening, what can you do that will help? Brainstorm ideas with your support person and ask them to remind you if you need a reminder.
5. Remember you’re not alone.
Thousands of adoptees just like you are searching right now and in the process of reunion. While no one experiences it the exactly same way, there are huge commonalities. You’re not alone in the highs and lows of reuniting with first family.
Here are some books that adoptees have found helpful:
- Journey of the Adopted Self by Betty Jean Lifton
- Adoption Reunions by Michelle McColms
- Coming Home to Self by Nancy Verrier