Taking your first steps of what could be a long and emotional journey to find your birth relatives is never easy. Ideally, this is a time for your loved ones to surround you with affection and support throughout the ups and downs, the hopes and fears, the anxious wait and the uncertainty of reunion. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to be part of a healthy, nurturing support system. And even those who are can still find themselves feeling lonely in this personal and delicate endeavour of reaching out into the unknown.

While friends and family mean well they are often unable to offer the one thing that someone who is searching for their biological family needs the most: a sense of shared experience. That is why finding a community of people who have walked the same path, rode the same emotional rollercoaster, and held each other strong throughout their journeys can be vital to your well-being.

Here are some of the main ways in which support groups for adults who have experienced adoption and reunion can help you throughout the challenging process of searching for your birth relatives:

1. Sharing practical information and know-how

When thinking about the benefits of adoptee support groups, the first thing that comes to mind is the sharing of emotional burdens. However, a less-known but valuable advantage of talking with people who have been where you are standing is that some of them have faced the same roadblocks and found ways to overcome them.

There are many tips and techniques you can learn from others’ experiences.They might share finer points of local legislation which make it easier for you to access to your adoption records or information about your birth relatives. They might have come across the new name of the adoption agency you used, but lost track of after it rebranded. They might introduce you to innovative ways to make the most of the data you have when leads are scarce (e.g. DNA matching), direct you towards a new adoptee database or even give you the number of a good genetic investigator.

Pooling knowledge resources benefits every member of the community and can prove to be that lucky strike you need when all you seem to come by are dead ends. And in turn, your own experience and insight might play a decisive role in helping an adoptee reunite with their birth family too. A simple comment at the right time can forever change someone’s life story.

2. Lending a sympathetic ear

During times of emotional upheaval we all need to be seen, heard, and understood. Nothing compares to the deep, intimate level of understanding which can only be provided by someone who has shared the same challenges.

Searching for your birth family can stir so many mixed feelings - fear, excitement, determination, heartbreak, anger, confusion, and hope, sometimes all over the course of just a few moments. Those who have been on this emotional ride won’t need to ask you why you are feeling the way you do. Simply having the chance to share your experience with others who are there to listen without judgement, from a place of familiarity, can be enough to ease your burden when things seem bleak or overwhelming.

And feeling like you are part of a community sharing the same struggle reduces the sense of loneliness which can creep up on you at times. For better or for worse, whatever the outcome of your search will be, you know that there is always a place you can go where others can relate to your struggles, joy or sorrow.

3. Supporting your in hoping for the best…

When starting the search for your biological relatives, it’s natural to feel excited and hopeful that you’ll be able to find them as soon as possible. Even though you are aware, on a rational level, that it can be a long and difficult process, days turning into months - or even years - without any news can be disheartening. But being part of an adoptee support community can keep you focused and prevent you from despairing.

That is because there are so many different stories - just like yours - which spanned across years, sometimes decades, but finally ended in reunion. Seeing it happen for others, though it may come with a painful twinge sometimes, keeps hope alive that it will one day happen for you. And the mere resilience of those who are still searching, day after day, never giving up hope that their time will come, can be enough to get you through the darker times.

4. …But also preparing you for the worst

It’s common to envision your reunion with your birth relatives as a bright, joyful moment of mutual rediscovery. Yet, sometimes things sadly do not work out as you had hoped. Even when all effort has been made to find your biological family, you may still be unable to reconnect with them. It may be because they cannot be located, because they have passed away, or because they are simply unable or unwilling to be reunited with you.

For whatever reason it happened, this outcome can be understandably difficult to process. However, relating to others who have been through such difficult experiences, reading their stories, hearing their pain, watching them heal and move on can be surprisingly helpful. Because it pushes you to consider the possibilities that most would rather not think about. And by putting yourself in their place, you mentally brace yourself, as much as one can, for potentially having a similar experience.

Of course, your outcome may very well turn out to be positive, your reunion having every chance to be the warm, nurturing event you have been dreaming of. But being ready to face the worst case scenario can make you feel more confident along the journey towards that end and keep you ready to face whatever life has in store for you.

5. Forging bonds that can last a life time

Sharing a deeply personal experience such as the journey to find your birth family can be a powerful way of developing a sense of emotional intimacy, even among strangers. And those strangers can quickly turn into friends for life.

Adoption support group members accompany each other at every step, through the thick and thin of the search. They root for each other and share authentic joy when one of them is fortunate to have a successful reunion.They are there to encourage those who are losing hope and to gently guide those whose reunion story did not have a happy ending towards moving on. They are there for all the powerful, vulnerable, sometimes overwhelming feelings, all while navigating their own hardships. These kinds of bonds, forged in the middle of an emotional storm, are often built to last.

Even if you have never met the people in your online adoption support group in person, you know that they are there for you when you need them and they can understand what you have been through. Although your adoption reunion journey will one day come to an end, it will always be a part of you and you may still feel the need to share insights gained from it. If before, you may not have felt in a position to provide support to other members, you may find yourself able to do so after having found your conclusion and your peace.

Having a safe place where you can always go to give and to receive emotional care, where you can reminisce about the path already walked and wonder about the next steps is extremely valuable. And having your people around you as you do so can give you the strength to weather any storm.

Finding your adoption support group

Adoption support groups can play a major role in your psychological and emotional well-being during the process of looking for your birth relatives. But finding one can seem like yet another thing to search for, on an already spread thin energy supply. That's why we make sure that your search is supported by a vast and welcoming community of over 1 million members, who have all experienced adoption and the quest for reunion. With members from all over the world, you can login at any time, from anywhere you’re most comfortable, and feel among peers. Get started by registering for a free membership, then access the community page and join the web of life stories being shared.

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