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Adoption Issues/My child wants to meet me...


I gave my daughter up 13 years ago. Its been an open adoption and I have been known as Aunt Leslie or Leslie. She found out a few years ago I am her birth mother. And now she wants to meet me in person. I am nervous and scared, afraid. How can this be when we have talked so often on the phone? What should I expect in person? She looks so much like me in pictures. Shes never seen a picture of me. Guess what I am asking, what should I expect when I see her? Her adoptive mother and grandmother will be with us. I plan to get a copy of our family history for her to have and pictures of me to give but what experience has anyone had in this? Please help me with your knowledge.

Leslie, congratulations to you and to your daughter. Meeting face to face will give you both an opportunity to witness, to see for yourselves, the connections you have to each other. I understand why you are nervous. Thank you for writing.

Perhaps instinctively you understand that there is no sure way to gauge what to expect. In most every reunion, there are so many factors to consider that any guess could only be an educated guess. Your reunion with your daughter is further complicated by her young age and the involvement of others. Best bet? Go with *no* expectations.

Instead, determine your daughter's expectations if you can. She is probably a lot like you. At her age, given this situation, what are her hopes for this meeting? For after this meeting? Will she express her needs? How will you meet those?

Most likely, your daughter has imagined this moment for a while. She may even have developed some quiet fantasies about you to fill the voids in her personal history. In any event, meeting you is probably a very big deal.

Your daughter is confronting reality, Leslie, facing *her* truth. Like you, she may be nervous, afraid. She may stay quiet throughout the entire meeting, even if her mind is racing. You may notice her watching you closely, studying your face and mannerisms. Emotions may be sheltered in safety, or erupt in bouts of joy and sorrow. This is reunion, and it is normal.

Suggestions: When you meet, embrace and hold your daughter securely in your arms. Speak directly to her. Ask if she is ok. Tell her that you are ready to answer her questions. Be prepared to answer honestly. If she asks a difficult or inappropriate question, assure her that you will tell her more when you can. If she instead remains silent, that is ok, too. Remind her that she can phone you later "to talk privately."

Experience it all. Expect nothing. Remember to take a camera and plenty of tissues. And, if you are feeling outnumbered, ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you.

Thank you for your question, Leslie. Hope I have been some help, and congratulations again.  

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Alice Allen, Rev (ULC)


Adoption Reunion and Reconciliation - "Do I matter to you?" - To adopted persons and their families, it is an especially important question. I offer guidance related to post-adoption search and reunion. Questions about how to search, what to expect of reunion, and where to locate resources are welcome. Please 'View Profile' for more detail.


Universalist minister and counselor specializing in post-adoption search, reunion, and reconciliation issues. Founder of GrannysCupboard, a ULC ministry that assists individuals who are searching for missing or estranged family and community members. Confidential information provided to GrannysCupboard is not shared without explicit permission. All costs associated with search service are paid by GrannysCupboard. No fees are charged.

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