Relationships with biological family

I've found myself in a strange reunion-relationship with my biological mother. I guess my new terminology for what I'm in is really the relationship, as I've recently been reading a series of really good posts on another blog where the blogger pointed out the reunion is the initial contact or physical meeting and everything thereafter is the relationship. Makes sense to me, my reunion (a word I was never really comfortable with since to me reuniting happens with people who knew each other) has passed and now I am navigating a relationship.

When I say this relationship is strange, I'm not talking about the obvious reasons, I'm talking about being in it yet at the same time observing it, comparing it, reacting to situations within it as not only myself but also as someone who reads about other people's reunions and relationships. I feel like I'm incorporating my life experience and philosophies as well as my observations of how other people describe their relationships with biological family. I look at things two ways, the first being my natural instincts and reactions and the second way is wondering what other people would think about things my biological mother says or does or doesn't do and how they might react or feel.

I wonder at times how different it would be had I not stumbled into the online adoption discussion. Ok, I realize discussion is a far too positive word to use to describe what actually takes place but since that's what I wish it was, we can pretend. And, if you sort through the bullshit and mean girl antics, there is some helpful info to be found, even if much of it is to learn about what not to do, how not to treat people, what not to expect.

I also think about how differently the 48 year old me is reacting in the relationship than the 38, 28, 18 year old me would have. I'm a mother myself of an adult now as well as an adult child to my mother. I've had romantic and platonic relationships, workplace relationships, familial relationships, many many sports team relationships, and have maneuvered my way through a divorced relationship. I've volunteered on a teen helpline, experienced sudden deaths of two very close faily members, and have been the wife and stepmother figure in a blended family for 8 years now. All of this plays a factor in how I look at and conduct myself in relationships I'm currently in, including the one with my biological mother.

I've just experienced a replay of these posts without the phone call. It's once again turned out ok, nobody is dead, and the latest email reply from bio mom is very normal, well, normal to me. As I read it this morning I couldn't help but think about how certain things she'd said would have been hurtful to some other adopted people, right or wrong. They would have come away feeling less important than the kept kids, now adults. They would have come away feeling less important than aunts and uncles, friends and associates of their biological mother. In fact, the whole experience would have left them feeling not important at all and if they had, rightly or wrongly, built themselves up to be an important part of their biological mother's life, I can empathize with how hurt they'd feel.

Maybe, just maybe, part of the key to all of this is to have concrete proof that we're important to our biological families before investing emotionally in them, before handing them our hearts.


  1. Thank you for your post this AM!!! There is so much there with which I totally agree! Especially that age thing. I can't tell you how many times I have considered, reflected upon and shared, how I might have responded differently to reunion if it had occurred at 20, or 30 or 40 rather than when I was 50!

    Drawing "family" boundaries can be a challenge. I can particularly identify with your statement about being in this new group of people and yet not! And I have found that to actually be a very good thing. I have my family, that is where I fit. Several of these new people welcome me, others do not so I will never really be a part of that family, and that is OK! Not having that shared history makes me an outsider but it also allows me to rise above the internal conflicts that occur in any family. I have been able to offer insights and different ways of dealing with conflict, but ultimately it is not my problem. There is great peace in that. It takes a while to get to that point, but I was never looking for a replacement family. These are just new "peeps" that I can forge wonderful relationships with and not have to become immersed in the strife that is common to all families. Heck, I have plenty of that in my own family, why look for more! :) In reunion, you get what you get and if you can't accept it and make the best of it, you are probably doomed to disappointment.

  2. Can you explain further what you mean by this last statement?

    Maybe, just maybe, part of the key to all of this is to have concrete proof that we're important to our biological families before investing emotionally in them, before handing them our hearts.

    What would you call as concrete proof that you are important to your biological family?

    I ask cause I already invested my heart and still not sure if my daughter is invested her heart to us. However, with that being said. I will take what I can get. (meaning what she is comfortable with and willing) and remember that it's better than what I had before contact. NOTHING!

    Thanks for blogging. I always love to hear from your side of things in reunion.

  3. Thanks Katie and birthmothertalks.

    Great comment Katie, I really understand what you're saying.

    Great question birthmothertalks....and one I have to think a bit on. Maybe a post in itself and a question we could put to others as well. What I can tell you now is it's my opinion, taking what you can get (without being abused) because it's better than what one used to have, being nothing, is a very good way to demonstrate your daughter is important to you.

  4. As I read this post, a book came to mind that was recommended by a professor I had in grad school. I thought you might like it too. It's called "I only say this because I love you: Talking to your parents, partner, sibs, and kids when you're all adults" by Deborah Tannen. Her life's work has been understaning relationships - how they work, how to make them work better- by figuring out the workings of everyday talk. She believes that "nowhere is talk more powerful or more troublesome than among members of our family."
    I found her writing to be light with a touch of humor, easy reading but strong in getting the messages across. She's written several other books in addition to the one I mentioned here.

    I sure wish you the very best as you navigate this relationship with you nmother.


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