To an outsider it may seem that if an adoptee has a fear of rejection, it must be irrational. After all, unlike a parent’s biological children, adopted children were chosen, right? How could someone so hoped for, prayed for, and sought after ever be afraid of being rejected? And yet they often do.
Perhaps it stems back to a transfer of maternal feelings to the child in utero. The birth mother who is experiencing an unplanned for and sometimes unwanted pregnancy may unknowingly share those feelings of unhappiness or ambivalence with her unborn child.
Plus, that early separation. The scientists will tell you that there’s a whole lot of important things that go on before birth, including bonding. For those who lived in their mother’s womb for 9 months only to be placed in the nursery, then possibly temporary care, and then finally with his/her parents, there may be deep-seated confusion and lack of confidence. Early separation like that could have an effect on an adoptee at any point in his/her life. Although I’m not a scientist, I am an adoptive mother who has experienced, firsthand, the insecurity and extra need of acceptance an adopted child may have. It’s understandable to me that an adoptee may feel afraid to draw close or to trust another person.
Of course, for those adopted at an older age, early life trauma and neglect can certainly add to a person’s lack of confidence and feelings of abandonment and rejection. Is it any wonder, with the fragile emotional state of all in the human family, that adoptees might feel trepidation about reuniting with birth family members? Having been relinquished, for whatever reason, may create a fear within the adoptee. So when search and reunion time comes, many enter it cautiously and guardedly, ready to back off at the least sign that birth family is not interested in contact, an adoptee fights courageously within himself to move forward with hope.
This calls for great support from adoptive families. When your adopted child suggests she’s ready to begin the search, or when your birth child finds you and seeks a reunion, be sensitive. Encourage and open up because the adoptee is exposing himself to possibility of pain. It may not seem logical to you, but emotions are seldom logical. Support, don’t suppress; encourage, don’t withdraw. Remember that adoption as well as search and reunion should always be about the child—even if that child is now an adult.