6 Unique Challenges in International Search and Reunion – And How to Overcome Them

The biggest and hardest obstacle to overcome is choosing to begin the journey.

Jennifer Mellon November 08, 2017
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The search and reunion process is often fraught with challenges and unforeseen obstacles. The international search and reunion process has its own unique challenges. Understanding some of the potential obstacles that may arises during the journey to finding your birth family abroad will better equip you to handle the process. Although issues may arise, they can be overcome.

1. Verifying Information

During your search process you will likely come across information of which you may question the verity. This becomes even more critical during an international search as often the information can come from unverified sources, or be in the native language of your country of origin. Licensed private investigators who specialize in adoption searches or professional liaisons on the ground in the country from which you were adopted can prove invaluable in verifying that the information you received is trustworthy.

2. Are They Actually Your Biological Relatives?

Once you track down your birth family abroad, it is critical to actually verify your relationship. Although you may feel certain based on the information you have received, it will give you peace of mind to ensure you are biologically related. The easiest and most affordable way to do so is through a simple DNA test. You can purchase one online for both you and your relative abroad. The information will be sent to you in a matter of weeks. This information can give you the answers you need, verify individuals you believe are your biological family, and help you plan connecting virtually or in-person.

3. Language Barriers

Recognizing the need for professionals to help with your search early on can save a great deal of time as the process continues. Hiring or contacting a translator after gathering all of the information you have from your adoptive family and U.S. agency or attorney will prove very helpful as you navigate original documents or individuals in your country of origin. Language barriers can be a real challenge during the international search and reunion process. You will want to have a translator who can help throughout the process with everything from translating documents to helping you communicate with your family members.

4. Traveling to Your Country of Origin

Many individuals find it most helpful to travel to their country of origin even if they have not yet connected with their birth family. The costs associated with such travel can be a big burden. Identifying at the start of the process your desired outcome can help you budget for such an expense. Maybe it is just important to connect via phone or Skype or through a letter. Deciding on when to visit in the process can be a difficult decisions based on resources, finances, and timing. You may want to wait until the search has produced credible leads before you make the journey. Understanding whether you plan to visit in-person at any stage of the process can help you budget airfare and accommodations abroad.

5. Staying Positive

Staying positive can be the hardest obstacle to overcome in the international search and reunion process. Setting your intention early and reminding yourself why you began this process will help. Avoiding negative self-talk when it creeps in and changing that inner voice to one of positivity is key. Practicing gratitude for your family and friends helps tremendously. Set aside time to care for yourself, doing something unrelated to the search that helps you feel energized and restored.

6. Where to Begin

We will end with the biggest obstacle to overcome. Where to begin? Talking to your adoptive parents can be very helpful. They may have information from your original adoption paperwork or their communications with the adoption service provider who helped facilitate the adoption. They may have key pieces of information that can help you on your journey. The biggest and hardest obstacle to overcome is choosing to begin the journey. Once you make that choice you will be on your way to finding the answers you seek.

Need some help with your adoption search? Adoption Detectives may be able to help! Learn more.

In depth information about how to find birth parents can be located at the new adoption information website.

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Jennifer Mellon

Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.


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