October 28th, 2008
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I’ve been seeing some posts on the forums that concern me. Adoptees have been asking why their birth parents are refusing reunion contact. And, trust me, I’m not really concerned about the birth parents in these scenarios.

Don’t get me wrong. I get that everyone has their reasons. I get the fact that many mothers (and fathers) from the closed era were told to just forget about the children that they relinquished for adoption. I get that many of these same birth parents never told their subsequent children or spouses about the child that they relinquished.

But I’m failing to see how any of this is the adoptee’s fault. And I’m failing to understand how punishing the adoptee solves anything in this convoluted mess.


My initial question asking if there is any reason to refuse reunion contact is speaking of that initial contact. I am well aware that once into reunion birth parents and adoptees may find issues hard to cope with, a personality clash or other issues that are hard to overcome. My problem, of course, is with those birth parents that are not even willing to meet their children.

I’ve heard the many well-intentioned excuses. “They have a family. I don’t want to disrupt that.” “My husband doesn’t know.” “My children don’t know.” On and on and on. Personally, I’m amazed that these birth parents aren’t curious about how their child “turned out” or interested in touching their child for the first time. I know it is a conditioned response, a coping mechanism after years of hidden grief and loss.

But this is one time where birth parents absolutely need to step out of their comfort zone and consider the other party. This isn’t about appeasing the adoptive family. This isn’t about making your own parents happy or redeeming yourself in their eyes. While this does involve your spouse and your children, it isn’t about them. This is about the child you placed for adoption. Whether you were a willing party to the adoption or not, your child deserves to meet you, if only once.

I cannot think of a reason that one face-to-face meeting can’t happen. I cannot think of a reason that letters cannot be sent and replied to. I cannot think of on valid reason for turning your child away. And yet I have seen so many of my adoptee friends face exactly that: no reply or a refusal of contact from their birth family. It makes me angry. It breaks my heart. And it makes me more determined to fight for better counseling for today’s generation of birth parents. Maybe we can help this generation learn how important we really our to our placed children.

My hope, of course, is that fewer and fewer adoptees will have to post on forums asking for help when their birth parents refuse contact. Maybe someday we won’t hear any such nonsense.

7 Responses to “Is There Any Reason to Refuse Reunion Contact?”

  1. amyn says:

    I am a birth sibling who has just recently been told by my aunt that I have a sister somewhere “out there”. My mother died in 1997 very suddenly, without ever telling me. (I was just turning 30) I am puzzled and hurt that my mom hadn’t shared, but now I am excited to hopefully get to one day meet this woman who is my sister. My fear now is that she was never told that she was adopted.Does that happen often? I don’t want to turn her life upside down by tracking her down and pulling the rug out from under her! I only pray that she knows of her adoption and is receptive to meeting me. I don’t know what my mom was waiting for, but I have no way of finding out, so I try not to drive myself crazy. I guess my fears point the other way, now, as I ponder what this sister’s life has been like, and I pray that she wants to meet me.

  2. cam46 says:

    I am a 47 year old adoptee who has been searching on and off for my birth family. I was told by Catholic Charaties that my B-mom was interested in meeting me when I turned 18. But I wasn’t searching at that time, so no connection was made. I was born August, 14, 1961 in Denver, Colorado.

  3. little2569 says:

    I am an adoptee that found her birthmother, wrote her a letter introducing myself and received the rudist letter I could imagine from her. She said she didn’t want anything to do with me, that she had no money (didnt even mention money in my letter to her) and she only told me that my father was from Venezula and not to contact her anymore. I just wanted to know if I look like her or what my father’s name is (i hate not looking like anyone) my daughters look like their dad, he looks like his parents, grandson looks like his mom, I don’t look like anyone) medical history since I had a child of my own and had given another up for adoption. I would never do that to my son, when he finds me I will accept him with open arms, not shatter any hope of him finding out where he came from or family history. Now 10 years later, I just want to send her a picture of my family (including my grandson) and put on it “See what you are missing” and leave it at that.

  4. indygirl says:

    There is no “good” (valid) reason for refusiing contact. Ever. There are selfish reasons, and excuses. I’m a 46-year old adoptee who has four children, and now 3 grand chilren. Ethnic, medical and social history is relevant to them as well as to myself! Fortunately my I located my bio mom about 5 years ago, and I’ve met her, my half-brother, my nieces and nephews. It filled up part of the huge black hole in my life. I’ve been looking for my bio father, and believe I have found him although he says he is not the one I’m looking for. Knowing what I know about this man I believe he is the ONE, but probably thinks I’m after money, and he hates publicity or attention. He is also basically a hermit. He hasn’t had anything to do with his father, aunts and uncles in at least 15 years.

    As an adoptee I feel we have the absolute right to our own history, and if our parents won’t cooperate we don’t have to sit back and allow them to refuse us. We didn’t cause the problem, we’re the result of their situation.

  5. genxmum says:

    I am a birth mother who does have an open adoption but despite that as I’ve spent time volunteering and have meet a lot of other birth mothers, I completely am not surprised that there would be many birth parents who refuse contact. But don’t automatically blame the birth parent…blame the broken adoption system and the lack of respect for birth mothers. My heart goes out to adult adoptees who suffer when their birth parent refuses contact. So here are just a few of the reasons that I’ve seen birth parents refuse contact:
    1 – They placed because their life is messed up and it still is. They bought into the belief that the only chance at a better life that their birth child might have is if they are isolated from them and their problems.
    2 – Birth mothers are treated like dirt in this society. A woman quickly learns to never tell anyone that they are a birth mother for fear of friends lost, jobs lost, husbands lost, and of course respect lost. Just because 20 or 40 years have gone by doesn’t mean that any of those threats would become less likely to happen to them if they have to face the fact that supressed deep down they are a birth mother and starting up a relationship will force them to again face the fact that they are a member of a despised ‘minority’ who are either vilified or objectified. To make a decision to “come out” of the birth mother ‘closet’ not only effects them but it can have impacts upon the whole family. Some families come together but some families fall apart.
    3 – They might put on a stable, normal front for their family but deep down they are frightened of their stong feelings and since they were told all those feelings would go away, they think that being forced to face those feelings through a reunion might literally make them go insane.
    4 – They placed their baby because they were raped. This whole birthmotherhood role was forced on them by a man who likely had to pay no concequences himself for what he did. They might not resent their birthchild but they are very afraid that maybe if they see them they will or that their birthchild might take after their attacker in either looks or personality.
    5 – Though there is this myth of adoption being a choice…most “old-time” birth mothers that I’ve met had absolutely no choice. Their families or the state made the decisions for them and their babies took away from them by the state. The trauma of any woman losing a baby…that effects each woman differently. Nobody should suffer the mental pain of guilt from not being able to protect their baby. It’s not a sane world that would take babies by force and then claim that the girl made a “choice”.

    Well I could go on but really I don’t think it’s too hard if you truly put yourself in another’s shoes to see that there could be many reasons for not accepting contact and honestly few of them are truly selfish reasons. I’ve met hundreds of birth parents but every single one of them placed because they thought it was the best thing for their baby… none of them were uncaring or unloving people…so who is to say that they refuse contact because deep down they also think that it is be best thing for their baby….

    My heart goes out to every member of the adoption triad – we all deserve healing and respect. No member of the triad can be put down or disrespected without that also being attack upon the other members. It’s really not so much a triad as it is a circle…all connected, all equal, no part could exist with out the other.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have a related question. About 14 years ago, I tried to contact my b-father (via my b-mom and a mutual friend of theirs) and was told that he was not interested because his marriage was unstable and he had a 14-yr-old daughter (the age they were when I was conceived). I accepted that and thought maybe later. Now thanks to the internet, I have found my b-half-bro (25 yrs old) and b-half-sis (29 yrs old). I I desperately want to contact them and/or find their dad (perhaps now is a good time). But I don’t know how or if this is appropriate. I would hate to create conflict in their family if the b-father never told them about me. I would love to hear thoughts on how I might do this or if it is even appropriate or what other people have experienced in a similar situation.

  7. abby86 says:

    My two daughters are aged 3 years 7 months and 2 years 3 months and they are in foster care at the moment awaiting adoption. I wanted my daughters to remain with me and to look after them but Social Services said they believed i couldn’t cope on my own and they thought i was going to get back with my husband who suffers from Paranoid Schizophrenia. I have contact with them now and they are hoping to be adopted by February 2012. I will get letterbox contact with them once they are adopted but the wont be allowed any contact with me. When they are teenagers i will be asking for contact and i really do want to be a part of their life once they are older.


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