I haven’t always been great at preparing myself emotionally for tough situations. But I have had a lot of practice, because I have been through a lot of tough situations, and my adoption reunion was no different.

What I have found over the years is that you can prepare and prepare, chart out the possible scenarios, vacillate over the perfect language and impeccable timing, and still have little to no control over the ultimate outcome.

So what do you do? For me, I still tend to prepare diligently and play out the possible scenarios in my head whenever I have an important situation that I know I will need to encounter. But I have also learned over the years that my focus needs to be primarily on what I can control, like my actions, my words, and my responses. If I am able to handle those things with integrity, honesty, and grace, I know I have nothing to be ashamed of.

I am proud of how I handled the reunions with both my biological parents. With my birth mother, I reached out, nervous but genuine, and she responded positively. We met a few times, but never really established a continuous relationship or a regular line of communication. There are no negative feelings on my end, and I don’t think there are on hers either. But we each continue to lead our separate lives, although we are connected on social media and communicate with each other from time to time.

With my biological father, there was initially denial and even anger on his part. Eventually, I did end up meeting with him a couple of times through his cousin, who served as an intermediary, and he made it very clear that he had no ill wishes, but didn’t have an interest in establishing any type of relationship.

That one was also more complicated because he has three other children, my biological half-siblings. When I found out about them, I was excited! I wanted to meet them, establish a relationship with them, even more so than with my biological parents. But when I reached out, I got the cold shoulder from one, and no response at all from the other two.

In these scenarios, and even in tough situations that have nothing to do with adoption reunions that haven’t ended up going my way, I try to keep my chin up and remember that it’s not personal. None of it is, really. Whether it’s a job offer or promotion I didn’t receive, an investment that went south, a relationship that didn’t blossom, or a whole host of other life situations, I try to learn something from each experience. In many cases, it doesn’t necessarily lessen the immediate pain, but it helps me to keep things in perspective and to grow.

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