Coping With Rejection In Adoption Reunions

I know it’s not about me or who I am as a person. It’s a result of the overall set of circumstances.

Tom Andriola February 23, 2017
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Rejection is hard. None of us like it, but it happens to all of us. Big things, small things, in between things; it still stings.

Adoption reunions are big things. They are emotionally charged. As adoptees, we are meeting a biological family member for the first time. We want to be at our best. We want to plan what to say, how to carry ourselves and how to react to various possible situations.

But, does all of this meticulous preparation change the trajectory of what you are about to experience? My guess is, probably not in a big way. Reunification is difficult. While there is a biological bond in common, it has in most cases been many, many years since relinquishment occurred – a lifetime, essentially.

And who knows what were the circumstances? Perhaps there is guilt or shame involved in the equation. There could be an extramarital affair at the center of the story, maybe a sexual assault or a one-night stand. Maybe, it’s none of the above – two people in love who just couldn’t find a way to make it work. Regardless, on the adoptee’s end of the spectrum, no matter how much you prepare or what you try to do, there just may be rejection in your reunion.

I had rejection in mine. Not really with my biological mother, but with my biological father and three half-siblings on his side. I just wanted to get to know them – I had visions of my kids and their kids getting to know each other as biological cousins, becoming buddies like most cousins are, many times.

But it wasn’t meant to be. I think all of the shame and guilt from the circumstances were just too much. I don’t have the exact details, but it seems as though my biological father chose to not acknowledge the pregnancy and either was engaged or quickly became engaged to another woman at around the same time.

I’m sure my half siblings did the math. They know how old I am and how old their parents were when they were engaged and then married. And it didn’t help the situation with my unfortunate timing – their mother had passed away shortly before I reached out for the first time (unbeknownst to me, of course).

So, when I reflect on the situation as a whole, it still stings, but I know it’s not about me or who I am as a person. It’s a result of the overall set of circumstances. Perhaps it’s too painful a reminder for them, or something they just don’t have an interest in dealing with. The more I remind myself of that, the better off I am at letting go and focusing on the positive things in my life. And who knows? Maybe one day, they’ll come around and want to get to know me. That would be great for sure. But in the meantime, I’m not going to sweat it.

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Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola advocates for adoptee rights and shares his personal experiences about being adopted and his successful, independent search for both biological parents. To see more of his writing, visit Tom's Facebook page.

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