Why the inconsistant contact?
I would like to ask the adult adoptees on the forum why is there often inconsistent contact from adoptees to birth mothers in reunion? Can adoptees out there please help with some insights? I would like to understand more about why adoptees after reunion pull back and even start to treat birth mothers in what seems to be a dismissive way? I have read posts where adoptees are upset because they often have to initiate contact with birth parents. I would love my daughter to contact me more often but months pass and sometimes I feel that if I donҒt initiate contact she will just drift away. Once I did push for contact and she wrote me an angry email saying that our relationship does not need her constant and complete attention, as if I was a dog or something. This was after we had a warm reunion and seemed to have a lot in common.

I understand that she has to deal with her amother who has made her feel guilty but the lady has now written to me so that is fixable. I helped her find her birth father but after she started to be in contact with him her attitude towards me became more dismissive. I feel I cant sustain in a relationship where I am not treated as an equal. How do I proceed to save this relationship? I donҒt feel as if I can just ask her because of her previous angry response. I have read many posts from adoptees saying they would love a close relationship with their birth mothers. I would like to be a positive influence and support in her life but she wont let me.
Stages of Reunion

I am sorry you are hurting. Reunion is tough - for everyone - and it is a long and winding road. Have you read the book, "Coming Home to Self" by Nancy Verrier? If you haven't, I highly recommend it. It will give you great insight into the mind of an adoptee. I felt like she wrote the book just for me (I am the bdaughter in reunion with her bfather).

This information my be helpful to you also (regarding the stages of Reunion):

(Author Unknown)

Not every individual goes through every stage; they may not be sequential, they may be repeated. The stages are common to the post-reunion period and are normal consequences of reunion.


Characterized by euphoria, joy and sense of being on top of the world

Effort made by parties to find similarity and common interests

Much time spent together in an effort to catch up on each others life with exchanges of photos, letter and gifts.

Preoccupation with other party

Minor negotiations about relationship, ie. What to call birth parent

Some uncertainty about place or role in otherҒs life, frequency of contact, how to introduce each other to friends and family members


One party may pull back to evaluate and process events. The honeymoon is over. Other party may feel confused when this happens. Birth parents may feel hurt, angry, frustrated and frightened if adoptee pulls back and adoptee may feel rejected by birth parent if he/she pulls back

Problems in relationship may develop here due to lack of understanding of the process; society has few role models for this experience

Parties may seek professional help to resolve situation


Confrontation of parties to address status of relationship and its future development

If birth parent initiates confrontation, she/he may fear loss of child again different confronting adopted adult because biological tie is not enough to assure success. In parenting, the element of permanency exists and the bond is not so fragile

If adopted adult confronts birth parents, she/he may fear being rejected by birth parents


Characterized by adopted adult or birth parents really moving away from the other, not just pulling back

Can be extremely painful for either party with feelings of anger, loss and rejection

Can occur if expectations are too rigid and differences between parties are too great


Characterized by earnest negotiations between parties; roles, differences, issues continue to be worked on, but the relationship is more solid and settled with few ups and downs because agreement has been reached in many areas

Re-negotiations occur as life changes and growth takes place and new relationship roles emerge

"Birthright," author (and reunited adoptee) Jean Strauss writes about the stages of reunion

1.) FANTASY: This begins at a very young age for the adoptee. Fantasies are hard to avoid when there's so little info to go on; some are positive, some negative. Fantasies are not limited to the adoptee; bmoms have them. Conscious awareness of fantasies are limited and may not surface until long after reunion is underway. Key: Fantasies are forever changed and altered by the realities of stage #2....First Encounters.

2.) FIRST ENCOUNTERS: Every encounter is different; most are civil; it's a highly charged time of massive amounts of shared information; questions are finally answered; people ride on a euphoric high for days or weeks or months; but after all the questions are answered, then what? Who are we to each other? Where do we go from here? How do I incorporate you into my life? The third phase of the reunion begins with these questions.

3.) THE MORNING AFTER: First encounters can be super intimate, but when everything settles down, bfamily members can find themselves feeling as if they've just slept with a total stranger. In the roller coaster ride analogy, this is the *big drop down* and is unexpected. Bfamily members are blood relations, but socially and experientially strangers to each other. Differences are discovered and magnified (backgrounds, memories, values, religions, beliefs, etc.). This stage can have varying lengths depending on the individuals involved. It's a time of examining expectations and struggling with defining the new relationships being formed. Feelings are confusing, complicated and surprising. These emotions can escalate and become overwhelming and paralyzing. When this happens, people often put up walls and back away. This begins stage four: Limbo.

4.) LIMBO: It's one side who pulls away, leaving the other side to "tread on eggs" wondering what's happening; adoptee or bmom can step back, but it's rare for both to want distance; many, many issues are at the forefront. Key: When a person chooses limbo, what is really going on? Processing. Person needs time to sort out new emotions, work through the past, decide what he/she wants to have happen, set boundaries and define the relationship. Making demands on the person choosing limbo for a greater, closer relationship may only serve to widen the gap between adoptee and bmom.

5.) RECONCILIATION: Final stage without a definitive starting point; can start years after the first encounter; this is a solitary experience. Bmom and adoptee confront issues, deal with losses, and move on. Decisions are made about how the new person will be assimilated; choice may be made to have an ongoing relationship or continue on alone. Problems arise when the two sides choose different paths. This phase is continual and includes setting goals.
ULTREA, I’m not an adult adoptee but a birthmother with a degree in psychology who has listened to hundreds of adult adoptees in reunion.

I don’t think there is much you can do unless she is willing to educate herself in order to understand the adoption experience from the side of the birthmother. There’s a large amount of adoption literature that she can read. If she has access to the academic databases, she can read the research studies. There’s no excuse for anyone to remain in the dark on the psychological effects of the separation of mother and child.

She needs to be open to self-scrutiny and self-understanding as well, examining how she has processed being relinquished. The big problem here is there is a tendency to misinterpret the data. Feeling rejected because one was relinquished and actually being rejected are two different things.

Feelings of being unwanted, unloved and abandoned, when left unresolved for years to fester and grow, distort social perception and healthy interactions with others. These negative emotions lead to anger, resentment and bitterness, which are destructive to relationship building.

If she blames you for abandoning her, then it’s likely she feels justified in her anger toward you. You feel treated like a dog because she’s got you in the dog house. You gave her up. You don’t deserve the time of day. Be thankful for the scraps you get because birthmothers are the scourge of the earth. "I would NEVER give up my child!" That’s the mindset of those trapped in misdirected anger. There is nothing you can do but hope that someday she is willing and able to lay aside what some have called "adoptee rage."

Has she had therapy? Met with other adoptees in group sessions or talked to birthmothers over the Internet? There are avenues she can take to better understand herself and you, moving toward a healthy, mature relationship with you that’s built on mutual respect. Hopefully that’s the course she’ll take.
I agree with Kathleen.

Even after I'd done my homework, and did a lot of work untwisting the twisted perceptions I had, I still have moments when those negative feelings come up. I've found when those moments appear I do pull back in a way. It's difficult not to try to avoid those feelings. The last thing i want to do is share them with my mother, she has enough to deal with herself, it's not fair to her.

Plus I have things to do, bills to pay, house to run, have others counting on me, and they can see when "it's" bugging me, so can I. Even when it's all good, and we contact each other, it knocks me down in a way. Lots to think about I guess.
Those feelings, good and bad, change my mood, my motivation, some days I just can't go there at all and keep moving. Still. So I hide in my world until it's passed. Has nothing to do with my mother really. Those lingering negative feelings aren't in my heart, or in my mind. I know better. Not sure why or where they are hiding! That's what I am working on now. Sometimes it's easier just to be lazy about it and hide from it.
I've been doing it long enough now to know you can't hide for long.

My mom does it too, we've talked about it. So it does make it easier, lessens the stress, that we have told each other that we "get it" and will always be there for each other.

I'm determined to find more answers and explanations for this.
Thanks Kathleen.. It is great to hear a professional perspective from someone who has been there. I did get some therapy through a specialised adoption councillor but she didn't mention the stages of reunion or give me any tools to deal with my feelings when my daughter pulled away after reunion. I have found out so much information on this forum on reunion stages - as Moonbeam mentioned (thank you). When my daughter wrote an angry email to me full of misunderstandings I did write back standing up for myself and I mentioned to her that I have bought a book on reunion and found helpful information on the internet. I also said that if anger and resentment had surfaced it may taint her relationships if she doesn't work through it. She has never mentioned to me that she has sought out therapy. I know she has struggled with things but when I asked what and if I could help with anything she just said "well we are all here now (the triad) and we are all healthy people" so I feel she has a bit of denial. It could also be that she is defensive with me and doesn't want to admit to anything. She said once that reunion was hard and many don't keep in touch. She is quite an assertive, negative person and we have only met 7 times now for lunch/dinner, so I have not had the chance to really get into where we are going in our relationship. Her focus is very much on herself at the moment and I don't feel that she realises what I have gone/am going through at all, which is understandable, but there is a lack of compassion as well which is alarming. I wrote her a very personal email of prebirth/birth/postbirth information and she just said she appreciated me bringing it all up again/must have been hard etc but when I next saw her she just cross questioned me on some details and didn't seem to have any empathy at all. Her focus is also on her birth father, who she is in reunion with and she has now spent more time with him than with me. She probably thinks I was trying to put her off him. Being an unsettled girl in her early 30's who travels all over the place, I don't think her maturity level at the moment can really "get me" - she just "keeps moving" because if she stops she may have to look within. (Thanks Beth for your insights there)

When I did bring up my healing support strategies (i.e. Reiki, Energetic Healing etc) and how I am reading up on reunion and understand that the birth parents can be a bit over enthusiastic at first for instance - I was met with a "rabbit caught in the headlights" look and no comment, so I don't think she is ready to go there. She said in her angry email that she just wants our contact to be happy and relaxed with no emotional tugs so I think accessing her emotions makes her feel uncomfortable. I am happy to keep in touch and see how things go in the future, but I won’t let myself be used as someone to take things out on because I don’t think that will be of benefit to her in the long run. Kathleen - Do you think I should write a letter to her asking her to be honest in how the reunion process is going for her and if she has struggled with anything that maybe I can help with? Or do you think it is better to leave it to her? I don’t want to initiate a face to face with her at the moment because I find the cross questions and button pushing unpleasant – could it be she is using that as a form of defence or control of the conversation so I don’t ask too many questions of her?
Thanks again for taking the time to post back to me Smile

Not everyone is capable of self-reflection to the degree that you appear to be. You have to meet her at her level.

I would recommend against pressing her to share any emotions right now. Let them come out organically.

You mentioned that you had a seemingly warm reunion and connected. Then, she wrote you an angry email. Hypothesis 1: She started to realize everything that she lost by not having you in her life, and it become difficult for her to deal with emotionally. Hypothesis 2: She feels guilty for feeling so close to you because she has parents who raised her. . . .

I am so sorry. I wish my mother was as interested in knowing me as you are in knowing your daughter.
I am sorry that she acted this way. I have no idea what makes people tick. The same thing happened to me but the roles are reversed. My birth family simply stopped writing, calling or emailing.

The last contact I had was bizarre. I won't go into all the details here.

I didn't get the email which would at least explain what's going on.

Silence is deafening. If people aren't prepared to commit to some form of communication that's agreed upon; I have no clue how a relationship can exist.
Thanks so much! It is great to get feedback from other adoptees. It is inspiring to feel some worth in continuing in what I have been doing. Being consistant with contact on my end without going over the top or have expectations, and being positive in my responses. Sometimes when there is silence you do wonder what you have done wrong. When people treat you with disrespect or don't believe what you have told them, choose to be offended etc I feel that it is usually more about the other person's issues than anything you have said or done Smile Murphy, I have read your posts so I am aware of your situation. If I can offer a suggestion? Could you write the letter stating all the misunderstandings and expressing your wishes on how you feel the relationship can move forward open to negotiation of course, and ask your birth family to let you know honestly within a certain amount of time? If there is no response you will know one way or the other and can move forward? I don't know if that would be appropriate in your situation as there are a few birth family members involved but that's what I think I would do for my own santity. xx
Thanks for trying to understand. I have tried my best to do as they have asked and now the ball is in their court.

I will at some point if there is an opening; try to put my feelings out there again....but I haven't got the courage right now.

The wound is still quite raw. I have had my heart broken once too often I suppose. It tore me into pieces when my father didn't want to talk to me.
I am so sorry that he wouldn't talk to you at the moment. It is very hard but I know that time has an amazing way of letting us see things from another person's perspective and he may just find that he can see things differently down the track. He's not very well at the moment either I think? I know when I am not feeling very well for whatever reason I don't feel able to cope with talking to my daughter. I am used to being a strong person but she just gets to me - I think it's the grief of lost time. If I could see her in person and give her a hug it may be different but talking on the phone is hard. In the meantime nurture yourself and heal those wounds - no one should have the power to break us completely so that we don't heal - don't allow that to happen to you. This reunion experience is a chance for us all to evolve above the day to day roller coaster of emotions, turn the other cheek and find balance and love within ourselves. That's what I keep telling myself anyway!! Take care and thanks for answering my posts too.. xx
Thanks. He is not well. I will give it time. I have survived despite all things that happened when I was too young to protect myself. This too shall pass.

From your description, your daughter sounds as if shes unconsciously blocking. YouҒll have to wait until shes ready to talk. But thereҒs nothing wrong with letting her know that youre ready to discuss the heavy stuff whenever she wants and she should feel comfortable asking the hard questions. I realize it can be unpleasant to do face-to-face, but thatҒs the best place to do it. Letters and emails can be misconstrued, and phone conversations are missing facial expressions and body language. Being with someone is the very essence of relationship. (Theres no face in Facebook.) If she already knows youҒll be there for deeper conversations then theres no need to say more.

However, if you decide to write, you have options. You could write a letter and send it. Or you could write a letter, sit on it for a while, then reread, edit and send. Another option is to keep a journal for a few months or a year, dating your entries, and then share it with her when you feel the time is right. This is perceived as less threatening than a letter addressed to an individual but may be overly intense. ThereҒs such a thing as being too honest in the sense that there are always some things better left unsaid.

Theres an out-of-print book available used on Amazon for only 4 cents, ғ[URL="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0882820524/sr=1-1/qid=1358628102/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1358628102&seller=&sr=1-1"]Birthbond: Reunions Between Birthparents and Adoptees, What Happens After[/URL]. IԒve read it and its worth the time, particularly chapter four entitled Post-Reunion Basics.

Another I havenҒt read but you may be interested in is, [URL="http://www.amazon.com/Adoption-Reader-Mothers-Adoptive-Daughters/dp/1878067656/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358632827&sr=1-1&keywords=adoption+reader"]The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories[/URL],Ӕ also used on Amazon for only one penny.

In general

Whether adoptee or birth mother, not everyone is reunion-ready when found. Expectations, wants and needs may not be the same. An unwillingness to change rigid expectations will break a reunion. Be flexible with your expectations. Remember that the quality or pace of the relationship with your daughter is not the key to your healing. Or hers.

The kind of relationship desired may differ. Some adoptees donŒt want another mother; they want a casual friendship only, and this will be disappointing to a birth mother who wants more. The reverse is true as well. Some birth mothers desire to be friends but cant fill the role of mother, and this is crushing for an adoptee thatҒs looking for a strong maternal bond.

Some birth mothers can take years to thaw out of their deep freeze, and some never do; they will never be able to connect as Mom. Some adoptees take years to let go of their anger, and some never do; they will always be angry at Mom.

Reunions fail because carving out a mature, healthy relationship is fraught with difficulty, the hurdles are too high. Those who think it should be easier will resent the work involved and be tempted to quit. So will the impatient. Patience is important. It can take years and years for healing to fully manifest. Or not. One birth mother was lambasted in a hate-filled letter, almost twenty years post-reunion, by an adoptee stuck in dissociated rage, destroying any hope for a relationship.

Some adoption literature is good, some is iffy at best. Avoid pop psychology. The better writers should be taken with a grain of salt as well. Liftons different selves, VerrierҒs primal wound, Solls mother/child separation as PTSD Җ none of these theories have the solid support of published, peer-reviewed research data and, without it, will eventually go the way of Freud. Ideas lacking empirical evidence are interesting but certainly dont apply to every adoptee or birth mother. DonҒt discount or believe all of it. There are lots of helpful insights to glean but be careful in your reading. Paper never refuses ink, and almost anyone can get published these days, especially for the Kindle.

David Kirchners work with homicidal adoptees is absolutely fascinating. Everyone interested in adoption should read him, heҒs that good. He states that of the 500 estimated serial killers in U.S. history, 16 percent were adopted as children, while adoptees represent only 2 or 3 percent of the general population; and adoptees are 15 times more likely to kill one or both of their adoptive parents than biological children. But some will walk away thinking all male adoptees are at high risk of becoming homicidal serial killers simply because a very small segment of them do, albeit disproportionate of the general population. So we need to guard against tarring everyone with the same brush.

Also know when an opinion is given. Kirschner writes, Usually they [reunions] do not result in long-term, close relationships.Ӕ This is his opinion based on his clinical practice and reading. However, we dont know yet if this is true. We need longitudinal studies with large samples.

In addition, much of whatҒs been written applies to human behavior and relationships in general, common outside of the adoption triad. Women whove never relinquished a child for adoption and nonadopted adults experience the same problems in their relationships as birth mothers and adoptees in reunion.
Thanks so much Kathleen for this information. I will do some more reading from the books you suggested. I have been avoiding Primal Wound for some reason - now I know why!
I did write a short email to my daughter stating that I would like to understand her better and mentioned that I have been offended by a few things and she actually called me to apologise. I was very surprised. We had a long talk and I think we have sorted out a way to move forward. The problem is we have only met half a dozen times so we don't know each other very well. She told me she has had counselling in the past for a number of issues and feels that for her the issues have all been dealt with well. She would like to have a friendship with me. She mentioned her amother has made it incredibly hard during the last 2 years because of her emotional response to my daughter actually finding me and starting contact. I know her amother wasn't prepared for it (we have written to each other) and so there is a barrier of guilty/loyalty for my daughter which inhibits how much time we spend together at the moment. I can understand she is caught in the middle, time will tell - it's frustrating mostly.
I find it hard to meet her for a few hours catch up then not see or hear from her for months. She explained that by saying that is just her personality and she doesn't keep in constant touch with her own family and sometimes doesn't talk to friends for weeks. I will just have to accept that is the way she is and get over my disappointment and try not to feel like I'm on the fringes of her life at the moment. To be honest, this reunion has been my main focus for over 2 years and I think we all need to settle and relax a bit. I need to find balance within myself too. I think communication is really the key and being willing to openly talk and listen to each other with understanding. Thanks again so much for all your help forum members.
Ultra.... I am an adult adoptee, and adoptee rage is something I deal with daily.

My Biological mom found me at when I turned 18. She was my beat friend. As soon as I moved away from home she stopped contacting me. I then started my own family, and that's when the rage truly began. I began to put my whole life in perspective. And, even though I was raised by amazing adopted parents I would have given anything to be raised by my now very successful mother.

Now, with that being said... I have an extreme amount of anger towards her right now, but it has nothing to do with my adoption. Its another looooong story.

I understand how your daughter is feeling. And, a lot of her feels very torn between you, her adoptive mother, and her Biological father. She is probably hearing everyone's point of view and I'm sure none of them are too pleasing. My Biological father still finds it necessary to bash my mother (really? After all these years, it takes 2 to tango, and 2 to relinquish rights).

Anyways, instead of calling all the time. I think you should send some cards or letters with some nice thoughts in them. Just to let her know that you are there for her, if and when she is ready. Because in the end, if it doesn't work out... You want the personal peacefulness that comes with knowing you did everything you could, instead of sitting back and waiting

Much love and luck to you. And if you ever need to talk feel free to PM me

Kimbergsp said...

My Biological father still finds it necessary to bash my mother (really? After all these years, it takes 2 to tango, and 2 to relinquish rights).

Just in case any newbies to adoption search read this post, I don't want them to think that this is true in all cases.

My biological father had no rights. He wanted to keep me. It only took one, my mother, to decide to relinquish. She decided on adoption. She signed the papers.
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