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Adoption Reunion: Relinquishers

If you want to have a good reunion with your "angry adoptee", here are a few things I'm relatively certain will make a positive difference for you. Some of it will be hard to read. You may want to deflect or abscond, but if you can sit with your discomfort on this, you may well be able to sit with your discomfort in reunion, and that WILL make it better.

1. Own Your Shit.

I cannot stress this enough. Own your choices and decisions. Don't blame others, your lack of support, religious oppression, coercion from adoption professionals. Phrases like, "I didn't have support, but ultimately I decided to put you up for adoption, and for that I'm sorry." will go a long way.

2. Don't Expect Us To Feel Sorry For You.

We want to know why you relinquished us, and we want the truth. The circumstances surrounding relinquishment are never truly positive for an adoptee, even if they seem that way at first. Don't expect compassion for your dire circumstances. You may get it. If you do, be grateful, because a lot of you won't. If you can't accept that your horrible circumstances may not absolve you of responsibility with us, then you are not ready to face your "angry adoptee".

3. Don't Expect Apologies To Fix Anything.

This does not mean do not apologize, because you must apologize. You will probably have to apologize so many times you'll get tired of saying it. When you get tired of saying it, remember who we are and the situation you put us into, and say it again. Don't be surprised if it doesn't seem to ease our pain or water down our anger. It will be worse if you either don't say it at all or stop saying it prematurely.

4. Don't Lie.

About anything. At any time. For any reason. Lies are unacceptable when you've lived nothing but lies.

5. Answer Our Questions.

Don't abridge facts to save face. Your embarrassment, pain, guilt, and secrets are not our fault. Frankly we deserve the answers we ask for. It's the least you can do.

6. Keep Up Contact.

Don't expect us to chase you down or check in with you. We aren't used to having you in our lives. Unless we tell you otherwise, you need to take it upon yourself to keep up contact. Make the calls. Send the cards. Show us you care.

7. Don't Expect Us To Call You Mom.

That's not who you are to most of us. Even if our adoptresses were evil, you still aren't our moms.

8. Accept Things At Face Value.

Trying to figure out our motives is going to drive you crazy. Things are very jumbled and confusing for most of us in reunion. Just remember we are having natural reactions to an extremely unnatural situation, and work with us. Cut us some slack. This is harder for us than it is for you. Don't judge us for situations that you ultimately put us into.

8. Know It Won't Always Be Pretty.

It may be sunshine and rainbows at the beginning; we tend to be giddy when we find our blood and they're open to contact. (It is absolutely devastating when they aren't.) It's not going to stay that way. I'm not saying it's going to go to hell and stay there, but it can and probably will get ugly at some point. Most of us have a lot to deal with and a lot of that isn't going to be pleasing or easy for you. The best advice I can give you is bear up. Stand up and take it as best as you can, own your shit, and do the best you can to ease our discomfort. If that means bearing blame and apologizing, do it. If that means holding us while we cry, do it. Put us first. Deal with your feelings about our feelings on your own. Don't pile that added burden on us.

9. Don't Tell Us You Did What Was Best For Us.

Relinquishment is never what's best for the child, no matter how dire or awful your circumstances may have been. Telling us any variation of that ("loved you so much I placed", "wanted a better life for you") is a slap in the face. If you love your child so much, you give them what is best by keeping them, fighting for them, and doing what you have to do for them, self be damned. Relinquishment is not love, it's abandonment. 

10. Don't Make Reunion About You.

It's really not. Between the two parties involved in our reunion, we are the wronged party. You may have been wronged by others. We were wronged by you. We are the ones becoming reacquainted with the group of strangers that was supposed to be our family. When it comes down to what goes on between you and your relinquished offspring, the relinquishee needs to be the priority.

These are just a few things I can say with relative certainty, based on my experience and others', that can positively affect how you are accepted and treated by adoptees.


  1. Yes thanks!! Loved them all. Especially don't make the reunion about you, and don't expect us to call a lot... I have been experiencing that, and it feels good to have it validated. And also not expecting us to call them Mom and Dad... The feelings are extremely odd and normal for the unnatural circumstances. Great job thanks!!

  2. Eeep yes the adopters pretend they love you unconditionally, but once you come out of the closet they resent and ignore you and everything you idealized about them is dulled.. My adoptive family 101. My adoptive sis has been set on ignoring me since I opened up about my pain from adoption she hasn't spoken to me for more than a year... We both good this way. My birth and adoptive bro still needs to idealize my adoptive parents and fam because he is still in the fog... Good going Maddeline you hit the nail again!!!!

  3. Barn Wheway: pretty well spot on. the only thing i would say is that i like to call my father Dad to remind him of his responsibility for fucking me up good and proper. but any abandoner parent honest enough to take all this on board will benefit from implementing it.


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