5 Ways To Prepare Yourself For Meeting Your Birth Parents

What to prepare when meeting your birth parents, regardless of the situation.

Tom Andriola February 11, 2017

I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to meet both of my biological parents at separate times in my life. I was 26 when I first found my birth mother in Aug. 1997, and she was interested in meeting me a few weeks later! I didn’t track my birth father down until several years later, in February 2011, when I was almost 40 and he chose to meet with me reluctantly. While these were two completely different scenarios, which took place during two very different times in my life, there are some things I would recommend to adoptees who are preparing to meet their birth parents, regardless of the situation.


Don’t Make Assumptions
1. Don’t Make Assumptions

When I was growing up, my mind often wandered when I thought about what my birth parents might be like – a beautiful actress, a famous sports star, a set of circumstances surrounding my birth that were beyond their control. Regardless of where your mind goes, they are probably nothing like how you picture them. The best way to prepare for what you might find, both during your search and upon your discovery and potential meeting, is to avoid making assumptions. They are who they are, and you are who you are. No more, no less.

Think Through What You Want To Say
2. Think Through What You Want To Say

Emotions are often stirred up for both adoptees and birth parents preparing for an in person reunion. It’s natural. Think about what you want to say. First impressions aren’t everything, but they’re important. In both situations, I thought things through about what I would say, how I would respond to certain questions and what I would ask. Sure, there were things I hadn’t thought of, but I’m glad I was as prepared as I thought I could be, especially with the meeting with my birth father, which I knew could be confrontational and defensive.

And What Boundaries You Have
3. And What Boundaries You Have

Neither party knows what the other wants going in. You may be excited, over the moon even, that you are about to meet your birth mother. You picture it being like a long lost family reunion. Slow down! You’re not there yet. You may meet her and open your heart and soul on that very first day and come to find out later that maybe you don’t want a deep relationship. It’s harder to close the door once you’ve opened it too wide than to open it a little bit at a time. Define your boundaries ahead of time in your mind. Are you open to meeting again? Will you talk on a regular basis? Maybe you’ll just want to play it by ear. Just don’t go too far too fast.

Just Be Yourself
4. Just Be Yourself

Who do you want around you? Do you want to make a connection so much that you would choose to act a certain way and say certain things based on how you think your birth parents will view you? It’s a big deal, I know. But choose to just be yourself – really. When you are genuine and your actions are from the heart, it is clear. Ultimately, if they don’t want to be around you because of who you are, you probably won’t want to be around them either.

Don’t Expect The First Meeting To Move Where You Want To Go
5. Don’t Expect The First Meeting To Move Where You Want To Go

First meetings are stressful. They’re awkward. Neither party really knows exactly what to say or how to react. That’s ok. It’s part of the process. You may find yourself questioning something you brought up or how you responded when you’re on your way home from the first meeting. Don’t worry about it. The hardest part is done. You had the meeting! Give yourself some credit and some time to process it. When you are ready, follow up. Maybe a quick call or a note – something small – it will be a lot less tense the second time around. I guarantee 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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