Everyone’s adoption story and adoption reunion is unique. Mine is no different. The first time I laid eyes on my bio-mom was when I was twenty-one. I hadn’t seen her since I was four days old, so it had been awhile. We lived 600 miles away from each other and had exchanged a few letters before we met in person. She came to my town, and we made plans to meet at a restaurant. The first thing that struck me was her voice. She had my voice except it had a southern accent. Weird. Next, I noticed that the way she carried herself was like the way I carried myself. Also weird. I remember that she bought me an extra fancy dessert from the menu. I’m not sure exactly why I remember that, but it did make me feel really special. I would never have splurged on that myself.
What are the best steps to take for an adoption reunion? You can do it my way (write letters, meet at a restaurant, buy adoptee a fancy milkshake…). Or, you could put a little more thought into it:
- Don’t jump right in: I think some written correspondence first is probably good. Ease into it. These days, people can learn about each other by scoping out social media etc… Go ahead and open that door first.
- Decide who will be involved: I went by myself to meet my bio-mom. She had her spouse with her. As I reflect after many years have passed, I think I would have rather liked it to be just the two of us. Anyway, there may be a lot of people with a horse in the race for this event. Try to come to some semblance of order for the sake of the adoptee and bio person/people. The two (presumably two, but your number could be different) bio relatives who are meeting should probably have first dibs to say who should be present. Does one want a support person? Does the other agree that it’s acceptable to have this person present?
- Do something normal: Getting dinner or coffee is a pretty normal activity. The meeting will be weird enough. Try to make everything else normal.
- Allow for weird questions: Both parties may have some odd questions that normally wouldn’t be asked the first time two people meet. Things like: How are your teeth? How often did you get cavities when you were young? Do your feet sweat a lot? Oh, just mine then. Ok. What about heartburn? Lazy eye? Moles?
- Take pictures: For goodness’ sakes, this event isn’t going to happen twice. Make sure you remember to take some pictures. I don’t mean to hire a professional necessarily, but do take some pictures.
- Bring tissues: You might cry. You can’t know ahead of time how you’re going to react. Maybe they will be tears of joy, maybe they will just be tears of strong unidentifiable emotions. Allow this to happen at your adoption reunion. This is a big deal.
- Bring gifts: Nothing extravagant. It’s a nice gesture. Something sentimental or meaningful would be great. A milkshake is also (apparently) memorable.
- Enjoy yourself: Again, this adoption reunion won’t happen twice. Take physical photos, take mental photos, memorize this moment. Relax and allow the time to pass slowly. Maybe you won’t have a close relationship in the end. Maybe you will have thousands of other occasions where you can talk and get to know each other. Whatever the case, you won’t have this exact moment again.
If you’re interested in a reunion, you may wish to have a little help. Click here to see how Adoption Detectives may be able to help you in your search. Or check out this eCourse about DIYing your own adoption reunion.