Guidelines for Adoption Reunions

Some of these guidelines for reunion are originally from
Sue Martin of Truth Seekers in Adoption in Chicago.
Additions have been made along the way via the Internet

These guidelines are not cast in stone!

0. Nobody knows the "rules", especially the person who is found.

1. Adoptees may "back off" even if they did the search.

2. Mothers reuniting with their child may not "back off" - especially if they searched.

3. Everyone needs "space", but not endless space. 

SPACE means:


4. For those "in space", a simple card signed "Happy Birthday" or "Thinking of You", are acceptable: this can go on for YEARS, so do *not* have "great expectations".

5. SLOW is the signal especially at the outset.

6. Do not launch into long or angry letters before meeting.

7. Not everything is adoption/reunion related, but separation at birth is a core issue that radiates through almost everything else.

8. Expect that an adoptee will express anger, somehow, some way, probably not overtly, possibly not even recognizing that he or she is angry.

9. When reunion is new, talk to one another about the boundaries you need to establish. (Again, the adoptee has leeway, but the mother must remain in the "responsible adult" role.)

10. Join a support group. Sharing and learning with others is most important.

11. Start your own grief work. Seek professional help if needed.

12 Help your curent family and friends to understand that search and reunion will be your "life focus" for a while. Share that you may need a supportive shoulder or open ears. "Advice" may not be heard! Remember that your friends may not understand.. Even you may not understand.

13. Search and reunion are as much about YOU as they are about finding someone. Expect to change in many ways. Do not expect or allow a well-meaning family to expect that search will "fix" you.

14. Remember that real life is "messy", unlike fantasy, which you can bend to suit you. If you aren't ready for "real" and ready to give up fantasies; don't search! And certainly don't make contact!

15. Relatives happen! Relationships take time and work to put into proper perspective. (Remember this when experiencing Genetic Attraction, too!)

16. Family is, ideally, supposed to be fun, thought-provoking, and supportive of each other, while still respectful of independence.