"Dr. Randolph Severson, a writer and psychologist specializing in adoption issues, explains that behind many kinds of reunion rejection lies a grieving for the might-have-been. And people respond to that grief in different ways.
'I think there is a stage that some people go through where they feel rejected, really, by life. [They recognize] that all these things that could have been -- or, along a different kind of life trajectory, would have occurred -- simply aren't going to be. Too much of life has already been lived. And people withdraw. The anxiety is just too great, the disappointment is too great.'
I know that I am not alone in this reaction. I have heard from other adult adoptees who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, a similar form of reunion backlash.
I will not retreat from reunion; I recognize this as a stage, something I just have to walk through. But I have retreated temporarily into myself, becoming withdrawn and inwardly focused.
It is no small thing, this grieving. But as with all things, it will pass. It won't necessarily disappear, but it will change.
I'm not sorry that I started down this path. When I reached out to my biological father in June, after a failed attempt at contact five years previous, I hoped at minimum to learn a few things about him and at most to have one face-to-face meeting. Given his previous reluctance to have any contact with me, I didn't dream that he might want any kind of an ongoing relationship. That he does seem open to continued interaction is beyond anything I had dared to consider.
This second reunion has exceeded my expectations in every way, but it has also triggered an emotional fallout that I wasn't bargaining for either.
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