Guide To Talking With Your Birth Parents

Maybe you've been rehearsing it, but here's a little help for you.

Tom Andriola July 26, 2017

If you are an adoptee who has searched for and found one or both of your biological parents, you are likely uncertain about how to approach your initial communication with them. Depending on the situation, it is likely to come as quite a shock, regardless of whether they have been searching on their end as well. Here are some tips based on my own personal experience.

Be Gentle
1. Be Gentle

Chances are, you’re anxious about that first connection. You want to prepare and make sure everything goes well. Perhaps you will rehearse what you plan to say in each of a number of possible scenarios. Just remember, on their end, this is all coming out of the blue. It is likely to spark deep emotions in very short order. While you are prepared, they are not. Remember to be gentle.

Be Respectful
2. Be Respectful

If your biological parent is caught off guard by your communication, they may display a strong emotional response. Perhaps they might cry or be overly excited. Alternatively, they could be angry that you found them and feel like you are invading their privacy. Regardless, try to maintain your composure and be respectful in how you respond.

Allow for Space
3. Allow for Space

It’s going to take time for your biological parent to process this newfound connection, whether they find it to be positive or negative. Give them some space to process this new discovery. On your end, you have had time to think about how to reach out, when to reach out, and what to do. They haven’t been afforded that luxury, so make sure you keep that in mind if things are not progressing as quickly as you would like.

Be Understanding
4. Be Understanding

If and when you reach out, you have likely opened a can of worms that your biological parent may or may not have wanted opened. It’s possible that the situation surrounding your birth was very difficult for them. Maybe your biological mom’s parents coerced her to give you up when she didn’t want to. Maybe your biological father had an affair outside his marriage that he doesn’t want discovered by his family. Try to be understanding about your biological parent’s response, even if it is painful for you. Failing to do so could cut off any possibility of a future relationship.

Accept Their Wishes
5. Accept Their Wishes

This is a hard one, and I know it from personal experience. Your biological parent may not want to pursue a relationship with you at all. He or she may be happy with where they are in their life, and this new connection is just too difficult for them. I’m not saying don’t try to convince them gently, but if they tell you they don’t want to keep in contact with you, you will need to be able to accept their wishes and decide how you want to obtain your own closure. As time passes, it is possible they will change their mind and want to make some kind of connection on their terms. You can be open to that possibility and hope that day comes. That’s a position I find myself in with my biological father and half siblings. It’s not the ideal, but there is also always hope.

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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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