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Making contact: things to consider

Information about how to make contact, what might happen after contact is made, planning for the first meeting and having ongoing contact.

Developing an ongoing relationship

The first meeting between the two parties often forces people to confront their fantasies. Sometimes the “real” person may be disappointing compared to the fantasy.

Try to develop a relationship which is based on mutual respect, trust and honesty. It is important to work at a slow pace and build the relationship with thought and care. Just because you are biologically related does not mean you instantly have a relationship. Take some time to think about a relationship you have with a close family member or friend and how this relationship developed over a period of time.

All relationships require work to continue developing. You may meet your birth relative on a regular basis, occasionally, or you may just meet once. There is no right or wrong path to take and you and the other person will need to work out what is best for you both.

What can I do to have a better reunion?

Take time to get to know the person. Take time to work out roles and future expectations. For example, if you are an adult, your birth mother may not want to be called “mum”.

A parent may also have difficulties in calling their adopted child by name, especially if they gave the child a different name at birth and had thought of that child by their original name for many years.

What about extended family members?

Adoption reunions often involve other people as well. Try to be aware that the person you have found probably has to come to terms with explaining the reunion to other family members and friends.

In addition, you may find that you now have a whole new family. This can take a great deal of patience, tolerance and understanding.

When the “honeymoon is over”

Don’t forget reunions are about real people. The initial period after meeting is a time of great excitement, growth and change. Some people have likened this phase to a “honeymoon” in that once you get home from your honeymoon, the real work of the marriage begins. Adoption reunions are often like this.

Once the new exciting beginning is over, the hard work and reality begins. It is not always easy to continue a relationship if there are large differences in lifestyle, education, finances, moral values, life expectations, hobbies and interests.

Getting on with life

For a large majority, even those who find out distressing information, the “not knowing” of the past is over and they can now move on with their own lives. Some people involved in adoption have likened adoption to “holding their breath”.

Once the reunion is over and people have information about themselves they can “go on breathing”, which means getting on with their lives.

For more information about adoption reunion, you may like to read some of the stories available in the PARC resource library.

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Last updated: 04 May 2022