Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

5 stages of reunion and common triad fears

Posted by on Jun. 30, 2009 at 10:37 AM
  • 40 Replies
  • 1832 Total Views
*The 5 Stages of Reunion*
From the book "BIRTHRIGHT," by Jean A.S. Strauss

1.) FANTASY:
This begins at a very young age for the adoptee. Fantasies are hard to avoid when there's so little info to go on; some are positive, some negative. Fantasies are not limited to the adoptee; bmoms have them. Conscious awareness of fantasies are limited and may not surface until long after reunion is underway.
Key: Fantasies are forever changed and altered by the realities of stage #2....First Encounters.


2.) FIRST ENCOUNTERS:
Every encounter is different; most are civil; it's a highly charged time of massive amounts of shared information; questions are finally answered; people ride on a euphoric high for days or weeks or months; but after all the questions are answered, then what? Who are we to each other? Where do we go from here? How do I incorporate you into my life? The third phase of the reunion begins with these questions.


3.) THE MORNING AFTER:
First encounters can be super intimate, but when everything settles down, bfamily members can find themselves feeling as if they've just slept with a total stranger. In the roller coaster ride analogy, this is the *big drop down* and is unexpected. Bfamily members are blood relations, but socially and experientially strangers to each other. Differences are discovered and magnified (backgrounds, memories, values, religions, beliefs, etc.). This stage can have varying lengths depending on the individuals involved. It's a time of examining expectations and struggling with defining the new relationships being formed. Feelings are confusing, complicated and surprising. These emotions can escalate and become overwhelming and paralyzing. When this happens, people often put up walls and back away. This begins stage four: Limbo.

4.) LIMBO:

It's one side who pulls away, leaving the other side to "tread on eggs" wondering what's happening; adoptee or bmom can step back, but it's rare for both to want distance; many, many issues are at the forefront. Key: When a person chooses limbo, what is really going on? Processing. Person needs time to sort out new emotions, work through the past, decide what he/she wants to have happen, set boundaries and define the relationship. Making demands on the person choosing limbo for a greater, closer relationship may only serve to widen the gap between adoptee and bmom.


5.) RECONCILIATION:
Final stage without a definitive starting point; can start years after the first encounter; this is a solitary experience. Bmom and adoptee confront issues, deal with losses, and move on. Decisions are made about how the new person will be assimilated; choice may be made to have an ongoing relationship or continue on alone. Problems arise when the two sides choose different paths. This phase is continual and includes setting goals.
>From the 1994 NY Triad Conference


Possible Adoptee Fears

1. That they will find their birth mother deceased.
2. That they will be rejected.
3. That their adoptive parents will be devastated and not understand why they are searching and that he/she will not be able to share with them or will be rejected by them.
4. That they are a secret and their birth mother will not acknowledge their existence to herself or her family.
5. That they will not meet the expectations of their birth mother.
6. That the birth family will be needy (it doesn't expound on whether they mean emotionally needy or monetarily needy)
7. That the birth mother will not be truthful.
8. That the birth mother will not understand his/her life problems.
9. That the timing or method of contact will not be right.
10. That they will hurt their adoptive or birth family by saying the wrong thing.
11. That they will find out negative things about their birth and surrender.
12. That they will have to give up their fantasies.

Possible Birth Parent Fears

1. That their child has not been told he/she is adopted.
2. That the child is not alive.
3. That they will be rejected by their child, lack of understanding.
4. That they will be rejected by the adoptive parents.
5. Indifference.
6. That the birth father will be given more credit than due him or recieves more attention than     the birth mother.
7. That they will find a sickly child.
8. That they will find an unfavorable situation.
9. That the separation pain and anxiety will never go away.
10. That the adoptive parents' needs will come before the birth parents' needs.
11. That an "older" placement child's reaction to being surrendered will be negative memories of time together and then separation.
12. That they will be hurt their child by coming back into his/her life.
13. That something "bad" will happen to her present children.
14. That there will be punishment.
15. That they will hurt the adoptee or adoptive parents by saying the wrong thing.
16. That they will not live up to their child's expectations.
17. That their child will not understand the reasons for their surrender.
18. That the search will be unsuccessful.

Possible Adoptive Parents Fears

1. That they will lose their child to the birth parents.
2. That the birth family will be younger and more attractive to their child.
3. That they or their children will be rejected.
4. That the birth parent is deceased.
5. That the birth parent has a problematic lifestyle.
6. That the birth parent will have trouble accepting the adoptees problems.
7. That the adoptee will "act out" towards the birth parent.
8. That the reunion will be harmful for everyone.
9. That they will be blamed for the adoptees problems.
10. That they won't live up to the birth parents expectations.
11. That the birth parents will have health problems or be "needy".
12. That there will be a lack of honesty.
13. That they will hurt the birth parents by saying the wrong thing.
14. That there will be no commitment to ongoing relationships.
15. That the timing of the reunion will not be good.
16. That the search will be negative.
17. That the adoptee will feel guilty and/or responsible for the birth parents problems.
18. That the adoptee will not share the reunion with them.
19. That the birth parent will take a minor child.

http://www.amazon.com/Birthright-Reunion-Adoptees-Birthparents-Adoptive/dp/0140512950


Owner Adoption Reunion Group http://www.cafemom.com/group/14715
Co-Owner Infant Adoption Group http://www.cafemom.com/group/39118

by on Jun. 30, 2009 at 10:37 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
JESSEMOM
by Bronze Member on Jun. 30, 2009 at 11:34 AM
So what does everyone think about this whole deal regarding "Fantasy":??? This seems to have kept me ticking, so to speak, for years!

Why do I keep up hope, or keep up this fantasy? Do you think it will ever go away? It has lasted my entire life, since I was about 5 years old.

How do I know that its gone? How do I get rid of it?

cathy
DVT
by Bronze Member on Jun. 30, 2009 at 12:11 PM

I have to admit I went through #6 (possible birthparents fears) when my children first found their birthfather.  However, I realize people do change and they have plenty of love to give to both of us and our families.  I believe since their birthdad never married, it's more of a friend type relationship with at least my son.  It might be advancing for my daughter, but she never talks about it.  They don't see him as often as us, but they keep in contact by phone. 

Cathy, I wish I had the answer for you about how to make it go away.  Usually when fantasy becomes realty it's always hard to overcome the emotions of it all.  I remember as my son reached 18 I used to fantasized what he & my daughter would look like, our first meeting of everyone.  It got stronger in the summer before she found me in December, it was like I knew it was really going to happen soon.  ok, sorry there, a little off topic.

JESSEMOM
by Bronze Member on Jun. 30, 2009 at 12:25 PM
I'm using a Mac and it doesnt allow me to quote or use different sized font????

I think my birth mom was what I wanted when we first met. Then when she changed, I believed she would change back to the old birth mom I met in the beginning. when I found letters she wrote me back in 1984, she was a different person? I think!

Maybe talking about it now, unraveling the fantasy and forcing myself to face the fact that shes been really rotten for many years, I will eventually face the reality?

I got what I wanted for the first couple of years, then she changed, drastically...or did she? was the woman I met just pretending to be someone else? did she put on a show for me?

Thats the part I'm trying to figure out? was she real or just pretending?

talk soon
cathy
onethentwins
by Group Owner on Jun. 30, 2009 at 2:44 PM


Quoting JESSEMOM:

I got what I wanted for the first couple of years, then she changed, drastically...or did she? was the woman I met just pretending to be someone else? did she put on a show for me?


Or, and this is just throwing out another therory, was she just as rotten then but you were too blinded with excitment and love to see it?


Owner Adoption Reunion Group http://www.cafemom.com/group/14715
Co-Owner Infant Adoption Group http://www.cafemom.com/group/39118

Kim743
by on Jun. 30, 2009 at 2:56 PM


Quoting JESSEMOM:

So what does everyone think about this whole deal regarding "Fantasy":??? This seems to have kept me ticking, so to speak, for years!

Why do I keep up hope, or keep up this fantasy? Do you think it will ever go away? It has lasted my entire life, since I was about 5 years old.

How do I know that its gone? How do I get rid of it?

cathy

Make Peace with Reality. You do not have to like it. How? forgive her, she is human and enjoy the life you have. The bad cannot be UN-done. Living well is the best way to overcome the bad. Cant love the one you want ? Then Love the ones your with. No one is perfect.

JESSEMOM
by Bronze Member on Jun. 30, 2009 at 3:26 PM

Quoting JESSEMOM:

I got what I wanted for the first couple of years, then she changed, drastically...or did she? was the woman I met just pretending to be someone else? did she put on a show for me?

Quoting Onethentwins:
Or, and this is just throwing out another therory, was she just as rotten then but you were too blinded with excitment and love to see it?

======================================================================================================================

Maybe. I'm analytical, to the point of driving everyone nuts. So I have analyzed everything till its dead and I think your right! HA! So it appears that she was rotten all along. The stories I've heard from Aunt Mary are different than the stories I've heard mainly from Nancy. And the stories Mary told are not out of anger or spite. Aunt Mary's stories fit better with the person she really is...and the person she turned into shortly after reunion. And, I hate to admit it but even my birth fathers stories are correct regarding Nancy. Not that he was great either, he was just as rotten! HA! But he was being honest about Nancy is my point! So, that means I'm more messed up than I realize/realized. That means that I made her into someone else....MY FANTASY MOM! HA! Does this mean that I'm to blame for whats happened ? I guess so. I overlooked so much for so many years. And I shouldnt have. Or possibly I should have dealt with our relationship differently, not had my heart so vested? OK, i'll stop rambling. talk soon, cathy
Bubbly54
by Member on Jun. 30, 2009 at 5:25 PM

I am stuck in #4 - Limbo - big time.  Actually to the point where I am getting a little, well more than a little, pissed off at him.  I feel that he probably has to drag his ass to the computer to even respond, 2 weeks or more later, to an e-mail that I sent.  And excactly like it says, I do not want to make demands so I keep everything light and cheery, don't bug him with too much communication or phone calls, no prodding as to what's going on with him.  But it is making me NUTS.

I need a vacation from this.

CECE09
by Member on Jun. 30, 2009 at 11:30 PM
Quoting JESSEMOM:


Quoting JESSEMOM:

I got what I wanted for the first couple of years, then she changed, drastically...or did she? was the woman I met just pretending to be someone else? did she put on a show for me?

Quoting Onethentwins:
Or, and this is just throwing out another therory, was she just as rotten then but you were too blinded with excitment and love to see it?

======================================================================================================================

Maybe. I'm analytical, to the point of driving everyone nuts. So I have analyzed everything till its dead and I think your right! HA! So it appears that she was rotten all along. The stories I've heard from Aunt Mary are different than the stories I've heard mainly from Nancy. And the stories Mary told are not out of anger or spite. Aunt Mary's stories fit better with the person she really is...and the person she turned into shortly after reunion. And, I hate to admit it but even my birth fathers stories are correct regarding Nancy. Not that he was great either, he was just as rotten! HA! But he was being honest about Nancy is my point! So, that means I'm more messed up than I realize/realized. That means that I made her into someone else....MY FANTASY MOM! HA! Does this mean that I'm to blame for whats happened ? I guess so. I overlooked so much for so many years. And I shouldnt have. Or possibly I should have dealt with our relationship differently, not had my heart so vested? OK, i'll stop rambling. talk soon, cathy

CATHY, THERE ARE MANY MOMENTS I FEEL LIKE YOU ONLY WE ARE OPPOSITES.CECE

CECE09

CECE09
by Member on Jun. 30, 2009 at 11:34 PM
Quoting Bubbly54:

I am stuck in #4 - Limbo - big time.  Actually to the point where I am getting a little, well more than a little, pissed off at him.  I feel that he probably has to drag his ass to the computer to even respond, 2 weeks or more later, to an e-mail that I sent.  And excactly like it says, I do not want to make demands so I keep everything light and cheery, don't bug him with too much communication or phone calls, no prodding as to what's going on with him.  But it is making me NUTS.

I need a vacation from this.

BUBBLY, IM WITH YOU ONE MINUTE SHE NEEDS, I RESPOND. THE NEXT THIS HUGH LET DOWN. I NEED THE SAME VACATION.CECE

CECE09

PortAngeles1969
by Member on Jul. 1, 2009 at 1:11 AM

So I was sharing with a fellow birth mom about this very same thing.

It's hard for me to "complain" as I know that I have far more than many of my fellow birth mom sisters have and that in comparison what I struggle with would seem a dream come true.

Yet......the limbo gets to me too.

And I'm an adoptee who fully understands the overwhelming need to distance from others; the wish that people would pursue me (telling me that I am valued and needed to counteract what I have internalized about my adoption).  And because of this I probably reach out far less to my relinquished daughter than other birth moms do with their relinquished children - I probably take it for granted that my daughter is "okay" with my lapses in communication.

But......in spite of all of that it is disappointing to feel like all the effort is onesided. It hurts and I will probably never tell her that - just as she will never tell me how deeply I have hurt her.  Just like if I am fortunate enough to reunite with my own birth family I will probably never be able to tell them - it is just too hard to go to that depth of vulnerability again.

When as an infant your first interaction with another human is loss (or your first interaction with a child who is part of your very soul is loss) then I think we always hold back a little. And we're frustrated because we can't get back "there" like other people who haven't experienced this loss can.

Maybe we aren't giving this loss it's true respect? Maybe we hope against all hope that there is something that will completely erase it - but I don't think that it can be erased. 

So I try not to complain about the reunion hurts and longings that aren't met. I can't erase that loss but I do have an opportunity to be part of her life now in whatever measure is possible. And that's enough for today.

 

PortAngeles1969   www.postadoptioncoach.com

Group Owner:
Adoption
http://www.cafemom.com/group/adoption  
Group Administrator: Birthmoms http://www.cafemom.com/group/birthmoms

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)