Monday, November 26, 2007

Searching for a Birthparent

In honor of National Adoption Month, I am reposting an article from Karen Ledbetter, the Adoption Editor at BellaOnline. I believe it offers some great advice for adoptees who want to search for their birthparents:

Search and Reunion - Consider This First

First of all, prepare yourself for all possible issues resulting from your search. You can do this by reading about adoption in general, relinquishment, search, and reunion. Don’t forget to read about the experiences of others who have already traveled the Search and Reunion Road.

First of all, do you know exactly why you’re searching? Do you realize that your decision will affect the lives of other people?

Be sure to educate yourself on the various state laws regarding search and reunion. Did you know that in some states, a birth parent can file paperwork requesting to NOT be contacted? If your birth parent lives in one of these states and has filed such a request, are you willing to respect their wishes and end your search?

Do you have realistic expectations of your search results? Hopefully, your search will result in the happy reunion and special relationship you’re dreaming of; but the results may not live up to your expectations, no matter how realistic they are.

What if you come up with identifying information on your birth relatives, only to learn they do not want to be found? Or, suppose you contact a birth parent who asks you not to contact him/her again. Are you prepared to handle either issue in a healthy manner and respect your birth relative’s wishes? Do you know how you’ll feel if you find your birth mom’s name and address, then write her a letter, only to receive no immediate response or to have your unopened letter returned? Do you have the patience to wait and see if she eventually replies? How will you deal with never receiving a response?

What if you do meet your birth relatives, only to find they are not exactly the people you had expected them to be? How will you handle that?

What if, after meeting, your birth relatives decide, for whatever reason, not to continue a relationship with you? Can you handle the rejection?

What if, after meeting, you realize that continuing a relationship with your birth relatives would not be the best idea in the world? How will you explain your feelings to them? Suppose they insist on a relationship anyway. What will you do?

As you can see, beginning an adoption search must not be done lightly. Many issues must be considered in order to protect the feelings and privacy, as well as respecting the wishes of many people. And, anyone searching must be prepared emotionally, mentally, and physically for almost any potential result.


Maddy said...

I heard a whole programme on the radio about this, it was fascinating.
Best wishes

mommy~dearest said...

Chock full of good advice! Being that I have been down that road myself, the number one tidbit I would emphasise would be the realizing that your decision to search will affect other people. Not only you and your birthparent, but their whole family as well as yours.

And, don't have any expectations about the birth relatives, because they aren't going to be the people you made up in your head. ;)