Some Tips For A Successful Reunion

Some Tips For A Successful Reunion

People Are Not Secrets – They are People

Most adoptions in Scotland have been shrouded with lies, shame and secrecy.  The secrecy associated with adoption perpetuates the shame of the “unwed mother” and the “illegitimate child”.  This has to be wiped away, and the only way to do that is to open the vault of secrecy and remember that people are not secrets, they are people.

Some adopted adults continue to perpetuate the shame of secrecy by keeping their newly found mother and/or family a secret from their adoptive parents.  This is a very hurtful practice as it perpetuates the shame and secrecy of adoption.  It is degrading for someone to be “someone else’s secret.“  Your mother is a living breathing part of you.  Your adoptive parents are well aware that you were adopted.  They will just have to deal with the truths and adjustments to reunion just like your natural siblings, your natural mother’s husband and everyone else who is dealing with this new reality.

Conversely some mothers have kept the “secret” of their child lost to adoption for years and years, and it will take time to realize that this secret is unhealthy and there is no further reason for this secret.  Your child is NOT a shameful secret.  It is degrading for someone to be “someone else’s secret”.  Your son/daughter is a living breathing human being who is part of you.  If there is someone in your life that has a problem with that, then they will have to deal with the truths and adjustments to reunion just like everyone else.  It is not healthy for you, or your son/daughter for you to keep them as a secret any further.

Don’t feel guilty, ashamed, or ungrateful – You have a right to reunite with your family member

You have every right to find your mother/daughter/son.  This is your heritage, your blood, your family, your history, and your future.  Do not allow anyone to make you feel guilty, unworthy, ashamed, or ungrateful for searching for your family member lost to adoption.   It is your right. 

Get Help/Support

Join a support group like Origins or have a friend who understands your experience and truth/see a professional who understands adoption reunion issues.  Read whatever books you can find.

Expect an Emotional Roller Coaster Ride

From the euphoria of first contact to the depression of a “snag” be prepared to experience a wide range of emotions as you go through an adoption reunion.  Being aware that this is part of the process and being prepared helps. 

Understand the Process

By understanding the stages and the process of adoption reunion and some of the pitfalls, you will ensure a better outcome.  Educate yourself on adoption reunion.  Talk to others in support groups who may have reunited. 

Take it Slow

Don’t be in a hurry to have an “instant family”.  Take it slow, one day at a time, and let it unfold as it should.  Don’t try to make up for “lost years” all at once…try not to overwhelm the other person or yourself. 

Give the Relationship Time

As with any relationship it takes time to develop trust, and a closeness.  Although there is a natural love for your mother or child, it will take time for that to catch up with the reality of the fact that you have been apart for so long.  But it will…give it time. 

Be Patient with One Another

Keep in mind that for both of you all of this is very new and it may take time to process and to manifest itself as to how it will be incorporated into your life.  Be patient with each other as you each process your own information in your own way..and work through the very deep emotions that are part of adoption reunion.

Be Honest

Adoption has been based on so many lies and secrets.  It is very important to base this new relationship on the truth.  Do not lie about your feelings in order to please the other person.

Give information to the best of your knowledge, but remember you have a right to privacy as well and your adopted adult child does not need to know everything about you and visa versa.

Set Limits

It is ok and healthy to set limits in any relationship.  Just because you have been separated does not give anyone the right to know every single detail about your life and about you.  Mothers there are some things you keep private from your children, this son/daughter should be no different …just because you are now reunited does not mean you owe your child everything he or she missed with you.  It is ok to set limits as to how much you give of yourself, your time, your money etc.  The same goes for adopted adults.  They are adults and have a right to privacy as well.   It is ok to set limits on certain questions or information that you may be asked that you are not comfortable in revealing to your mother. 

Don’t Push Too Hard

Try not to  push the other person to do something they are not ready to do.  If your son/daughter is not ready to tell their adoptive parents, be clear that you do not wish to be a “secret” but let them do it in their own time and space.  Don’t push.  If you have asked your mother to give you information about your father and she is reluctant to talk about it, give her time, don’t push.  Think before you act.  You are dealing with highly emotional complicated relationships.  Try to behave with an eye towards a continuing relationship.  Try not to be judgmental or to burn your bridges” by pushing too hard too early for what you want. 

Be Respectful

Keep in mind that there are other people who your mother/son/daughter loves and respects in their life.  Try to be respectful of these relationships for the sake of your reunited loved one.  It is always good form to show respect to others, and it is important (even if you do not agree) to try and understand and respect their current relationships whether it be with adoptive parents, siblings, husbands, wives,  children, etc.  This does not mean you have to compromise your values, just try to understand and respect current relationships the best you are able.


It is likely that, whatever you imagined the other person to be like, there will also be many surprises. It is wise to keep an open mind, remain optimistic, and be prepared to “roll with the punches”.


  • “Birthright” Jean A.S. Strauss
  • “Adoption Healing”  Joe Soll
  • “The Primal Wound”  Nancy Verrier
  • “Your Children”  Abreah karam
  • “Toronto CAS”  Disclosure Package
  • “Reunion Relationships” Marlou Russell, Ph.D.