March 01, 2004
Reconnecting with a long lost loved one can be a powerful experience, and therefore you need to plan for it. Dr. Phil gives advice on preparing for both the reunion, and the relationship afterward:
Think about the reasons you want to reunite with your parent, child or sibling.
Remember, they have a family and so do you. You can’t turn the clock back or expect to fill the role that you have not played all these years. You are adults, strangers with genetic ties, coming together to build a relationship. Be realistic about the role that you feel you can play in their life and vice versa.
You must go into the reunion with realistic expectancies, not fanciful hopes.
If you make someone out to be perfect, you are guaranteed to be disappointed. People get hurt when they have unrealistic expectations, and those expectancies are dashed. These unrealistic expectancies can set you up for failure. It is not what happens in people’s lives that upsets them, it’s whether or not what happens in their lives is what they expected that upsets them. Don’t allow yourself to think that everything in your life will suddenly be resolved overnight once you reunite, or you will be let down.
A reunion is an event, but the relationship is a process that needs time to unfold.
You have to really work to build a relationship, and you have to be patient. Start out with the goal of finding something that is comfortable for everybody, and don’t put any pressure on yourself.
Allow a natural evolution of things to take place.
Like all relationships, expect your relationship with the person you have reunited to go up and down. Your best chance for having a good relationship long term is to take it slow and move at a measured pace. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Be patient and let it unfold naturally, so that it will be lasting. You don’t want to do anything that would cause this coming together to separate you again.
When adoptive parents are supportive of the process it strengthens the bond between them and their children.
Adoptive parents are the real heroes. They are the ones that have stepped up and filled the void for these children. Adoptive parents should not take it personally when their child wants to find his/her birth parents. The search is not about rejection. It is part of human nature to want to know who we are and where we come from.