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Reunions - work best when they go at the pace of the slowest person.



Many people affected by adoption who decide to search, see it only as a quest for information. However, they often find that it is a journey of self-discovery that unlocks a Pandora’s Box of emotions. 


After the searching for your relative(s) you may choose to move on to the next phase of making contacting and beginning the relationship. The following ideas are offered for your consideration as you embark on this journey. 


Beginning the relationship journey   


  • There is no way of knowing in advance how the relationship with your relative(s) will unfold. No matter how well you have prepared, how many books you have read, or how often you have listened to others share their experience of reunion, contact is likely to be an extremely emotional experience for all parties.


  • Remember that you have most likely been thinking about and planning for this meeting for a long time, but the person you are approaching may not have had time to prepare himself or herself emotionally. Be sensitive to your relative’s needs and wishes, particularly any call for more time and space to process and adjust. It is wise to proceed at the pace of the slowest person. Pushing for more contact than they are ready for may jeopardise the relationship. 


  • Exchanging letters/emails, photographs is a good place to start the communication. However sometimes both parties may prefer to speak on the phone early on. A meeting can come later down the track when both parties are ready. When you do agree that the time is right, try to arrange the meeting on neutral territory, somewhere acceptable to both of you. Usually, people find that meeting in a public place, such as a park affords some degree of privacy. If you live in Brisbane you could ask Jigsaw if they have a room available for the meeting. 


  • Consider meeting with each other alone for the first time. If you feel strongly that you want to bring a support person, consider bringing someone such as a friend who is somewhat neutral rather than a family member. This is so that you are not having to deal with any reactions a family member may have and the other party does not feel overwhelmed. Later on you can arrange to meet other family members such as spouses, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, nieces, nephews or cousins. 


  • If you have travelled to another location for the meeting you should consider staying in your own accommodation rather than with your relative as this will give you both some space to deal with any intense feelings you may have.


  • You may wonder what to call each other. It is often best to start using first names and then you can discuss using names such as mum/dad or son/ daughter, sister/brother as time goes on. 


  • It is important to remember that the decision to search and make contact carries with it the need to accept responsibility for the impact your decision may have on the other person’s life.


  • It is possible you may want to incorporate your newly found relative into your life. Patience and understanding will again lead to positive outcomes. It’s best to not rush anyone, especially where the existence of an adopted person has previously been a secret or when an adopted person has not told others about their adoptive status. How and when to tell others remains a choice for that person.


To read more about navigating post contact relationships please see the attached information sheet.  

Information Sheets

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