The relationship between parent and child sets the stage for the rest of our lives. Whether a person has been adopted or raised by biological parents, these relationships give our lives meaning.
These relationships are also a bit more complicated when you’re adopted. While some adoptees want to meet their birth parents and the rest of their biological family, others don’t. And that’s okay. Every adoptee has different expectations for what a relationship with their birth parents should look like.
If you feel like you’re at a crossroad, or you’re feeling pressured by your friends, family or even yourself, here’s what you should know about starting — or not starting — a relationship with your birth family.
Are These Thoughts Normal?
Figuring out what type of relationship you want with your birth parents can be exhausting. You’re probably thinking, “Is there something wrong with me for not wanting to meet my birth parents?”
The answer to this question will always be no.
Every adoption situation is different. You shouldn’t feel guilty for having second thoughts about a relationship that you’re not ready for. Everyone has the right to decide who gets to be a part of their life.
When faced with the prospect of meeting your biological parents, it’s normal to feel unsure of what to expect. Some adoptees can accept and appreciate the selfless decision their birth parents made to place them up for adoption and can therefore move on to a fulfilling relationship with their biological family — if they want to.
Others are still grappling with complicated emotions like grief, anger, loss and regret. Instead of feeling excited at the opportunity to meet their birth parents, they’re angry and hurt when they think about the life they could have had.
If your situation sounds closer to the second option, we want to reassure you that those feelings are normal. Every adoptee has to process their feelings in their own way. Even if you think you’ve moved forward from your adoption trauma, getting to know your birth parents for the first time can bring those feelings right back up. When that happens, you might feel like it’s better to have no relationship with your birth parents at all.
What to do from here is entirely up to you. In some cases, not having a relationship with your birth parents can be a better option. But, before you make this decision, we recommend talking to other adoptees about their experiences in this situation.
Should I Try to Have a Relationship with My Birth Parents?
The answer to this question, of course, is entirely up to you. Some adoptees feel that some relationship with their biological parents is better than no relationship at all. They might start to fear they’re missing out on life with their biological family. They might worry about what their family or friends will think of them closing the door on that part of their life. These fears are normal, and they may make you rethink not having a relationship with your birth family.
Having at least some relationship with your birth parents can be extremely beneficial. Some adoptees take this opportunity to find information they’ve been looking for all their lives, like medical information, family lineage and more. Even if you share just a small amount of contact, it can make a big difference in your life.
But, it’s important to keep in mind that birth parent and adoptee relationships are complicated. It will take a lot of trial and error to figure out what amount of contact is best for you, if you do decide to take the leap. What works for one family might not work for you, and that’s okay.
Remember to take into account your own feelings before making any big, life-changing decisions.
Which Decision is Right for Me?
Choosing what type of relationship to have with your birth parents is challenging. But you’re not alone. Many adult adoptees have been in your shoes and know exactly what you’re going through. They may be able to help.
You can always reach out to a support group near you or a local family therapist if you’re having trouble deciding what kind of relationship you want with your birth family. Remember, you are the only one who gets to make this decision.