Finding Each Other: Is Seeking to Reunite a Good Idea?

Many people who have been touched by adoption - birth parent, biological sibling, or adoptee - will conduct a search in the hope of someday finding each other. There are reasons both to reunite and to not seek each other.

Searches are usually done for medical or personal reasons, or a combination of the two. Adoptees may want to reunite with their birth relatives to gain their genetic and medical history, to learn about the culture they were born into, to fill in the gaps in their understanding of themselves. Those who surrendered children for adoption want to know that their child is happy and healthy, to see how he or she has grown, to explain their reasons for the adoption and possibly build a relationship that was impossible at the time the child was surrendered.

But not all people wish to reunite. The search itself can be long, complex, and expensive. Once found, not all individuals will be pleased at the thought of a reunion. Many adoptions were done in secret, and to have the truth come out now could disrupt lives and peace of mind. Some individuals build up elaborate fantasies around a reunion, imagining it will bring them a new identity, family, and happiness. Others embark on a search because it almost seems expected, not stopping to consider the possible impact on their own lives, and the lives of their loved ones, or those they seek.

Once the decision to try to reunite has been made, the process can seem overwhelming. Searchers need to learn the laws of the state in which the adoption took place. Registration with the International Soundex Reunion Registry is recommended, as it is the largest, free, mutual consent registry in the world. Join one or some of the many support groups, both for guidance and for understanding from those who truly appreciate what you are feeling. Gather information, beginning with the basics of what you know (or assume) to be true. Keep a journal of everything learned in your search, no matter how insignificant, as it may turn out to be more important than you realize. Obtain whatever documents you can, petitioning the courts whenever possible and needed. And above all, be prepared for anything, be it immediate success or none, open arms or a closed door.