An adoption reunion usually happens at the end of an emotionally draining journey. Allow yourself time to process everything you feel along the way. Everyone has a different reunion experience. Some people have always felt like a piece of them was missing and a reunion fills that hole for them. For others it’s awkward to meet family they don’t know. I have found that most reunions fall somewhere in the middle.

All of the hugs and tears of joy on television can seem a bit overwhelming. You are expecting to have a larger than life, highly emotional experience. It’s simply not that way for everyone. A lot of factors come into play. How long you have been apart, the circumstances around the separation, and how close you have become can all affect how your reunion goes.

Just be yourself, and do what feels right.

I was hesitant about a reunion many years before my search even began. I had so many questions. What if I don’t like them? What if they don’t like me? What if they feel a connection to me that I don’t feel to them? After all, they had time while I was in the womb to form an attachment. That could have made a big difference in our feelings toward each other. They were complete strangers to me. It turns out none of those things mattered. I had let what I had seen on TV psyche me out.

I found my birth family a little over a year ago. We exchanged emails, phone calls, and messages for a while. When it was time for us to meet, I remember feeling excited and nervous. I had built up a big, dramatic event in my mind. I was overcome with love, hope, and fear. In the end though, it just felt like going home.

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Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and a mother of two, currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees’ rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life.