What Can Affect a Reunion?
There are a number of factors that can influence the possibility of a reunion taking place. Some of those factors also influence the intensity, or character of adoption reunion experiences and relationships after reunion.. Following are some of the factors that may influence reunion outcomes.
Readiness of Both Parties
If both a natural parent and the adopted person are ready and eager to know each other, contact will be much easier. However, if one of the parties is resistant or has not been thinking about reunion the process will most likely have more issues to work through and therefore will most likely take more time to achieve.
Current Personal Circumstances
The current situation in each person’s life can influence if and how a reunion progresses. If he or she has just married, had a child, started a new career, or just experienced a considerable loss, he or she may not have the emotional energy to devote to reunion, or may become overwhelmed by taking on too much, as reunion is “all absorbing” , at least in the early stages of contact.
You may have found your child, but he or she is still a minor. Your child is still under the care and control of his or her adoptive parents and without their involvement it would be unwise to proceed with a reunion at this time. You must also want to consider the impact on your child and his or her life and proceed with caution depending on the age of your child and what they may be involved in right now. Would your child be in the middle of exams just now? Is your child just going through puberty right now? Has your child just started high school? It is wise to give some thought about what your child’s circumstances might be and the involvement of the adoptive parents before you proceed.
It may be wise to put a new relationship on hold if current personal circumstances do not allow for the extra emotional commitment necessary for a healthy reunion right at this time.
Keep in mind that mothers were told “never to tell their secret” to anyone when they left the hospital without their children. These mothers were so traumatized that many still live in secrecy and shame from the birth of their child. Their fear of telling is insurmountable for some of them. Many of these mothers could be in 30 or 40 year marriages and have never told their husbands of their “shameful secret”.
The use of time in reunion is very important. Many reunions go awry when people become impatient. It is important to allow the other party to let information “sink in” and allow them to process new information and formulate questions and identify feelings surrounding the new information. By “pushing” for contact or for a response on any issues you may be “pushing your loved one away”. Ask the other party if they need time to digest what you have just discussed before you call again, or write again…go by their answer. Take your time.
Age and Gender of Reunion Members
Where each person is in their life cycle can have a bearing on how they handle intense feelings, if they are ready and willing to form new relationships, or if they have the capacity to enter into a reunion. Very elderly people for example, would be less likely to take on something new and difficult. Young adults who are adopted might find another set of parents is the last thing they want right now, or that their friends take precedence to any family including reuniting with new family members.
Reactions of Important People
The feelings and reactions of each person’s family and friends can influence a reunion. No one wishes to jeopardize their current relationships. If there is a great deal of stress created for an important person or people, the reunion may have to be slowed down while those issues are addressed. For example: if a Mother has not told her current family that she has another child, or if an Adopted Person was not told of their adoption, it will likely take more time and patience for a reunion to proceed as these issues are worked through, and the relationships of those family and friends are nurtured with respect to reunion issues.
Understanding the Past
Having an understanding of how adoption was handled in Canada in the past will have a very important influence ion how Adopted Adults approach their natural mothers. Their mothers are not “Birthmothers” who “gave them away”. Understanding this very important distinction and the intense emotions and deep scars that are their mothers’ reality and truth can be very helpful in creating healthy reunions, as well as difficult to hear.
Reunions usually bring up a number of intense feelings from the past, feelings that natural mothers in particular, have most probably repressed for years. These often long hidden deep scars are very painful to open up again and fear may be ever present for those mothers to revisit those painful memories and the trauma of losing their child in the way they did. The secrecy and shame piled on top of the trauma makes it very difficult for them. Reunion, although sometimes a difficult journey can begin the process of healing those wounds. For some, the wounds of the past are so intense, and so difficult, they feel they cannot take the chance of opening “the vault” and sadly, the rejection of their loved ones is the outcome.