Adoption is an emotionally taxing and often very long process. Now, with the advent of online genetic services like Ancestry.com and 23andMe as well as via social media channels, more and more adoptees are finding it possible to connect with their birth parents. There is also a growing trend toward open adoptions (versus closed adoption, international adoption or foster care), which is facilitating the possibilities of such connections. While decades ago this might have been something only an adult would take on, more and more kids are now curious and able to connect with their birth parents.
There are a few tactics that can make this challenging milestone more manageable.
Make sure the birth parents are safe to meet with.
“I think every parent needs to make the decision: ‘Is this the family that we would want this child to be around, are they safe, are they drug addicts, are they prostitutes, are they gonna come try to take her or him from school,'” says Gregory Keck, PhD a therapist and adoption expert. There needs to be a safety assessment first.
Take it slow.
If you’re able to connect with a birth parent you might not want to jump to a first meeting from the get-go. “Take it step by step. It’s a little like dating. Have one conversation, then another,” Pam Slaton, who runs an investigative genealogy service, told The New York Times.
Look for support.
Just as you likely needed support when you went through the adoption process, you’ll need support when your child asks to connect with their birth parent or parents. You’ll want to lean on friends, family and other trusted people in your circle to navigate this emotional time. This process will be different for every family and every child, but having people to lean on for support is imperative for all involved.