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Common Feelings to Expect from Birth Family Visits
Every adult adoptee’s situation and relationship with their birth family is going to be unique. So are the feelings that you experience when you visit your birth family. Whether you’re fairly new to visits with your birth family and you’d like to know what to expect, or you’re trying to sort through the feelings that you have before, during and after those visits, this guide may help. Remember that the experiences of international adoptees and foster care adoptees visiting with their birth family will be very different than those of private domestic adoptees, which are the focus of this guide. Some adoptees are surprised to find that they react to birth family visits in a way that they hadn’t expected. Be patient with yourself and with your birth family as you take time to sort through any complex or conflicting feelings.
Common Emotions for Adoptees Regarding Visits with Birth FamilyEven if you’ve always had a good relationship with your birth family, you can still have complicated and conflicting feelings when you visit with them. Some of the most common negative feelings that adoptees (both in open and previously closed adoptions) experience regarding visits with birth family include:
- Feeling like you’re somehow betraying your adoptive family by feeling love and curiosity toward your birth family.
- Feeling hurt or rejected when your birth family doesn’t visit as often, or doesn’t reach out for a while.
- Nervousness that your birth family won’t approve of you or that they’ll cut off contact.
- Awkwardness, and feeling like you have (or maybe need to have) a connection with someone who is, in some ways, still a stranger.
- Sadness, or re-experiencing a sense of loss when you say goodbye to your birth family again.
- Disappointment, or not feeling as if you’re entirely emotionally getting what you need out of the visit.