When birth parents don't want a reunion

Gregory Keck, PhD Attachment Therapist & Adoption Expert, shares advice for adoptive parents on what to do if your child's birth parents don't want a reunion
When Birth Parents Don't Want A Reunion With Your Adopted Child
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When birth parents don't want a reunion

I think that when parents are talking with their children about the possibility of doing a search and reunion they either need to by themselves or get the help of some kind of professional to talk with the child, or the adolescent, or maybe young adult about the range of possibilities of what could happen during the search process. We often tell them everything that we can think of, “Your birth parent could be dead, they may not choose to see you, they may not ever want to have contact with you, they could be in jail, they could...” whatever, and we go over all of the range because most of them have this fantasy that they're going to show up at a house and knock on a door, and they're going to be, “Oh, my baby's come home.” And some of that happens, and there are some horror stories that when people contact their birth parent and primarily their birth mothers, that's who search* seems to happen most with, and they've been told by their birth mothers, “Please don’t' ever contact me again. I didn't want to get pregnant, this was unplanned. That's why I didn't keep you. I'm married, I have a husband, and I have three other kids. They don't know anything about you and I don't want any further contact with you.” Now, the cases I've seen that's been mostly in adulthood but they're devastated because what they've said to me is, “This was a second rejection and I was rejected at birth, and then 25, 30 years later I'm again rejected,” so I think that they need to be prepared for the worst so that if it doesn't happen that's fine and they can have a wonderful reunion, and there are stories of many, many good reunions. I think the better reunions are for children who have been adopted at birth by healthy woman who haven't had alcohol problems who just weren't prepared to have a baby and they grow up, and they do a search and they find her. I think the reunions of children coming out of foster care can be very tumultuous because sometimes the families have made changes and sometimes they haven't. I've seen numbers of kids who end up back with their birth families who were adopted out of foster care and it has been a nightmare. So, I think everybody needs to be very clear about the outcomes. They're not going to be all joyous outcomes and some may be really very traumatizing again, but I think if that's where the adopted person wants to go then the family, assuming issues are safe, should really support that process of search and reunion.

Gregory Keck, PhD Attachment Therapist & Adoption Expert, shares advice for adoptive parents on what to do if your child's birth parents don't want a reunion


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Gregory Keck, PhD

Founder & Director, Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio

Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio. He is an internationally known psychologist and trainer who addresses the issues of trauma, adoption, and post-adoption challenges. He and his staff provide attachment therapy for adoptive families whose children have experienced serious early childhood maltreatment prior to adoption. In 2012, he received the National Association of Social Workers State of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the parent of two sons who were adopted in adolescence.

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