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Why do birth parents lose touch with their adopted children?

There are many reasons why birth parents lose touch with their adopted child.  Some of these might surprise you.

Birth Parents don’t want to interfere with their child’s new family unit

Many birth parents lose touch with their adopted child intentionally.  In many cases this is because they don’t want to interfere with the family.  They respect the adoptive family unit and feel that stepping back will help nurture the family unit.  These are complicated emotions and can be difficult for birth parents both early in the adoption and moving forward.  It’s important to understand their motivations:

  • They have a strong desire to not disrupt the family
  • Distance makes it easier for some birth parents to move forward
  • They want their child to have a strong bond with the new family
  • Some birth parents might feel that creating space helps adoptee to bond

Birth parent learns to cope and moves forward

Another common reason birth parents lose touch with their adopted child is that they have learned to cope with their grief and loss and need space to move forward.  It can be hard to let go and move forward.  There are a variety of ways that birth parents accomplish this.  Here are some reasons birth parents explain why they’ve lost touch with the adoptee:

  • She needs to disconnect in order to move on and to heal
  • Too  much contact is a constant reminder of sadness and can inhibit healing
  • It might be easier to cope if she forgets for a while and focuses on moving forward
  • Moving on with her life and accomplishing her goals help her cope

The adoptee wants space for a variety of reasons

Sometimes people lose contact because the adoptee is ready to disconnect.  This might be temporary as the adoptee processes new emotions as they continue to grow and develop.  It’s also possible that life events can trigger the need to disconnect.  Particularly during puberty, when kids are establishing independence and identity, they want space from both their adoptive and birth parents.  The reverse can also be true; sometimes establishing identity means the adoptee seeks out the birth parent.  Finally, some adoptees feel guilty about contact with their birth parents because they think they are being disloyal to their adoptive parents.  They might be afraid of hurt feelings.  This is rarely the case, and adoptees should talk with their parents about this if they fear it’s an issue.

Birth parents have personal reasons for wanting to disconnect

Adoption involves complex emotions.  Contact with the adoptive family and the adoptee isn’t always helpful to the birth parent, and as a result, birth parents also have their own fears about contact with the adoptee.  Here are some of them:

  • Afraid to re-open old wounds and experience more grief
  • Fear that the adoptee will be mad at her and confront her
  • That the adoptive parents will feel threatened by the contact and shut her out

Most fears come from lack of knowledge.  It’s important that birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents are honest and open, especially about what scares them.  If they open up to each other, they might just find they had nothing to be afraid of.  The end result of being open might also be that everyone draws closer to each other.

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