If you're a midlife adoptee and had a closed adoption, you may have the opportunity to meet your birth mother for the first time. This can be an exciting and scary thing, as both of you might be nervous and unsure what to expect. Reunions can be positive or not so positive, so here are some tips on making them go smoothly.
Allow Your Birth Mother the Emotions She Feels
Many adoptees spend so much time thinking about their own emotions with adoption, that they forget that their birth mother is a real person and will be feeling some of her own. When she first expresses her emotions, give her the time and space to really listen to her. She might be happy, scared, or even angry. She might not have really wanted to give her baby up, but the pressures of society (remember, this was the 50s or 60s) were different then. It all depends on the individual situation she experienced, so listen to her with an open mind.
Talk It Through With Your Adoptive Parents
Some adoptive parents are totally cool with their children finding their birth parents, while others feel hurt. Don't get angry if they don't understand why you want to meet your birth mother, but instead, try and see things from their perspective. Talk about the situation with your adoptive parents and if need be, give them a little time to absorb it all before you meet your birth mother. How you handle the situation in the early stages will help you fit all these different people in your life after the reunion.
Remember That Getting to Know Someone Takes Time
Daytime talk shows have given us the impression that when you first see your birth mother, there will be hugs and kisses and positive emotions. But what happens after the initial reunion? What role do you want your birth mother to play in your life? Do you want to become friends with her? Do you want her to be part of your family in some way?
Whatever your hopes are, getting to know someone takes time. With an adoption reunion, you may look or act like your birth mother, and those things can lead you to believe that you know her. But like any relationship, it takes time to truly know someone. You might share her DNA, but that won't mean that she understands you like your adoptive family, so be sure to give the relationship time and if need be, take things slowly in the beginning.
Go In With Open Expectations
One of the biggest mistakes midlife adoptees make is that they assume things about their reunion. Some think that their birth mother will want to hang out with them as much as she does her other children. Others believe that their birth mother will have that acceptance and unconditional love that their adoptive parents have. The problem with expectations of any kind is that you won't know what feels comfortable for you and your birth mother after you meet. Once you get past the initial "catch up" conversations, then what?
If you have an expectation in mind about the kind of relationship you want, be flexible in how quickly it develops. You may be very close with your birth mother after you get to know her, or you might not ever really establish the kind of relationship you envisioned. That doesn't mean she can't be a part of your life in some way, but it does mean that you'll need to adjust your expectations. Be open to whatever develops.
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