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Adult children; how to connect after a separation.

Recently a request was received asking about “How to connect with your children you have been separated from?” Since this blog is about relationships we will address the relational aspect of this dynamic. Dr. Phil has information on his web site with good advice for deciding if you want to reconnect with your children.
This situation has actually occurred when my biological father contacted me at 35 years old. In my counseling work I have worked with both people who were left, and the ones who did the leaving. When working with people it always helps to have similar experiences as theirs.
One untended consequence of his request to enter my life was the reliving of the abandonment that is felt from his leaving. There is no way to avoid this. Many people have a hard time accepting this fact especially when the child has been given up for adoption. There are feelings of abandonment. There are questions of why? Was I not good enough? This feeling of abandonment increases if the person had more children.
For the parent who left the child whether through divorce, adoption, or single parenting this feeling of abandonment can be hard to accept. This can cause guilty feelings in the parent. Eventually these questions will be asked of the parent. The best response for the parent is to acknowledge the feeling of abandonment. For the feeling of abandonment is much different than the action of abandonment. This is where communication breaks down many times. The child wants to be validated for their feelings no matter what age they are. The parent wants the child to know they did not abandon them. Keeping in mind the difference between the feeling, and the action of abandonment can neutralize this situation leading to a better depth of understanding between each other.
Secondly you need to recognize the role your having in this person’s life. As the parent who has been absent you must accept your child does not know you as “mother/father” Sometimes you are known as the biological mother especially when someone else might have played this role for your child. The child also must accept their role in the parents’ lives. Their parents might have other children. There may be some jealousy on the part of the child knowing their biological parent continued to have children. This is when all the “why not me?” happens. Hopefully, in an honest relationship the parent can say why it was not them. Some parents withhold this information in order to not hurt the child. The answer to the question why not keep me is much less hurtful than not knowing. When you don’t know then you imagine the worst outcomes.
There are some don’ts too important to not add.
Don’t expect to go back in time to recreate your mother/father role. That time is gone. Don’t expect to be called mom or dad. Don’t expect the child to replace their adoptive parents with you. Don’t have expectations.
Most important treat this relationship as any other new relationship you are beginning. Go slow, get to know each other, and take your time.

No limits.
Cristi Habermann
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