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Opening a Closed Adoption

Many adoptees are having their DNA tests done to find out about their heritage. Some are placing the results on various web sites where others can look for matches. There have been hundreds of cases where adoptees have been contacted by possible biological relatives. This, along with sealed adoption records becoming legally available in various states, brings up a range of emotions for those who have placed children for adoption and those who have adopted.

For many, they knew deep down in their hearts the day would come when they would have to face the fact that their adopted child and birthparent would cross paths.

One adoptive parent said, I’ve known for 21 years that this day would come and I’m so filled with emotions of both happiness and fear. The fear comes from hoping my child can build a healthy, loving relationship with his birthparents while still having a healthy and loving relationship with us! Birthparents have similar feelings. They fear the deep and vulnerable questions. They hope the child isn’t resentful or bitter toward them. They fear the adoptive parents will be apprehensive or over protective.

It is a very emotional time for everyone involved when an adoption that has been closed for a number of years begins to open. Emotions surface that the individuals didn’t know existed. Those that longed to know their birthparents may suddenly pull back and want to move very slowly as they navigate the new emotion they are experiencing. They begin to doubt if they wanted a reunion in the first place. Adoptees may have all kinds of preconceived ideas about their birthparents: where they live, the kind of life they lead, their educational background and appearance. It can be stressful if those ideas are far different from the reality of the birthparents actual situation.

Birthparents can experience emotions that may have been hidden away, deep down inside an emotional fortress. As they prepare to meet their biological child, those emotions stuffed inside for so long usually come rushing to the surface at times least expected.

As all parties deal with their happiness, excitement and fear, they need to remember to be thoughtful and respectful of each other. It is always better not to rush into something too quickly. Opening up an adoption can be done in a slow, purposeful way, giving each member of the triangle time to absorb and move through their own emotions.