Many birth parents enter reunion clueless about how adoptees feel. Of course, this is somewhat unavoidable if they are not expecting a reunion but are found by their children. However, if you really want to build a relationship that suceeds, I suggest a crash course in learning about adoption and adoptees.
When my reunion first began, my son told me that he was reading a book that was mainly about birthmothers. That told me a great deal about his sincere interest in wanting to know me, and to understand me. I immediately purchased the same book, and have been reading about adoption fast and furiously ever since.
Here is some of what I have learned:
1. Respect your child’s adoptive parents and if you are tempted to say anything negative about them, bite your tongue. Say it to a friend or support group member, but never say anything negative about your child’s adoptive parents to your child or anyone who might tell them. In fact, to be safe only mention anything that most you only to trusted confidantes. In most cases, an adopted child will be intensely protective and defensive if a birth parent criticizes their child’s adoptive parents. Whatever faults the adoptive parents might have, they raised your child and probably did the best they could. An adopted child usually is fiercely loyal to their adoptive parents and putting them down might be a huge mistake. Even if the adoptive parents were not the best parents, putting them down may not be well received by an adoptee.
2. Never forget that not all adoptees react to their adoptive status in exactly the same manner.
3.If your child says that they have no adoption issues, do not try to convince them otherwise.
4. Take responsibility for the adoption decision. Even if you truly had little choice in the matter, acknowledge your role. Do not blame everyone else. This is tough if you were pressured or forced, but it still applies.
5. Do not criticize your child’s manners or behavior. You did not raise them, and cannot expect them to behave as you think they should.
6. Whatever you do, do not insist that your child call you, “Mom.” Most adoptees do not toss that word around lightly. In fact, they may greatly resent your pressuring them and insisting on being called, “Mom” or “Mother.” Although many adoptees call their birth mothers motherly names, many do not. Let them decide.
7. Do not make assumptions that they love or hate adoption. You could be dead wrong and if you are, it might be create some friction.
8. Have reasonable expectations, and be prepared to lower them if you need to.
9. Love your child unconditionally. That is likely what they need from you whether they say so or not. If you condition your relationship with them based on doing what you expect them to do, you may be asking for problems.