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Tips on searching and reunions

This information is summarised from The Adoption Reunion Handbook (which reported the experiences of adopted people who searched for information) by Liz Trinder, Julia Feast and David Howe. Wiley, 2004 and has been included on this website with kind permission of the publisher. Further details and ordering information are available on the Wiley website.

Don’t start the journey until the time is right for you
Start the search and reunion journey when you feel the time is right for you - don’t feel pressurised by others to embark on something you are not ready for or that does not feel comfortable for you.

Be aware of those involved
Most searches and reunions have a positive outcome. Welcomed and happy reunions can be exciting and consuming, but don’t forget about the other people around you - it’s important not to make them feel left out.

Prepare yourself for potential outcomes
Remember all reunions are unique, but it is good to have considered some of the potential positive and difficult outcomes that you may encounter along the way.

Consider the process from different perspectives
Sharing your thoughts and feelings and thinking about how other people might be feeling can help you understand the search and reunion process from all the different perspectives.

Use an intermediary for initial contact
Do use an independent intermediary if you can - contacting birth relatives out of the blue can be exciting but also unsettling. Using an intermediary gives the person being contacted time to consider what the reunion will mean for them and their family.

Seek out support
Make sure you have the support you need. Talk to people you trust such as adoption counsellors, partners or friends, or join a support group to talk about your hopes, fears and expectations.

Be realistic and flexible in your expectations
Think about the expectations you have about the search and reunion as well as other people’s too. Sometimes these will not match so you need to think of how you will manage this. Be prepared to adjust your expectations along the way.

Involve your adoptive family in the process
If you can, do try and let your adoptive family know about your search and reunion journey - they may be a good support for you even though they may need reassurance that they will always be your family.

Be aware of the possibility of negative response
Receiving negative responses from birth relatives can be very upsetting and unsettling. Make sure you have people around that you can talk to and who can understand why you feel hurt.

Accept your changing emotions throughout
All people affected by an adoption reunion are likely to have a mixture of feelings about the event that may alter over time. Remember it can take time to get it right and comfortable for everyone. Be patient and kind to yourself.

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