Canadian Council of Natural Mothers' Library

The Adoption Reunion Guide Survival Guide:
Preparing Yourself for the Search, Reunion, and Beyond

Julie Jarrell Bailey & Lynn N. Giddens, M.A.
Forward by Annette Baran, M.S.W.


In the Forward to this book, Annette Baran writes that " the reunion experience of birth-parent and adoptee constructs an unparalleled relationship, and is truly sui generis, a totally unique emotional experience." This is, of course, what adoptive parents and the general public do not understand: there is no natural parallel for a parent to meet their child as an adult. Because of this, the relationships that are formed when this does happen can be difficult to understand and difficult to characterize. We have no established model in our society, only myths and media hype. We are the generation which is building the reality of adoption reunion.

The book itself is divided into four parts:

Part 1 Preparing for a Reunion: What you Need to Know

Part 2 Practical Advice for Sidestepping Reunion Pitfalls

Part 3 The Tangled Web of Rights and Legal Issues

Part 4 More Help for Your Journey

Part 1 discusses the emotional effects and interactions of adoption. The authors summarize Betty Lifton's explanation for the fantasies adoptees, natural parents and adoptive parents build of each other under closed adoption. The emotional trauma of parents who lose their children to adoption is explained, as are the losses and experiences of adoptees. The explanations in this section are an excellent summary of current research and experiences in adoption. Chapter 5 is especially useful in describing the stages of reunion.

Part 2 covers common errors in reunion dynamics, and offers assistance to adoptees and natural parents on handling the many delicate situations that arise. It is truly a user's guide to reunion.

Part 3 is likely the least useful section for Canadians, as it covers adoption legislation in the United States. However, the sections on the Open Records movement are very useful to people new to the issues and entanglements of the different arguments on both sides, while the authors' stance is clearly and solidly in support of Open Records.

Part 4 is short, having a concluding chapter and some American resources for adoptees and natural parents to use in search and reunion.

This book is very, very useful to an adoptee or a natural parent just beginning to search, or one just contacted by someone searching. There is much information which will reach to the heart of both the searcher and the one found. Judy, a mother now searching for her son, said of this book:

"I find myself reading thoughts I didn't know I had and thoughts that, if I did know I had, I would never have been able to express. As I read (often with difficulty, as my eyes fill with tears!), I feel as though the authors have looked down into my soul and are turning lights on in every corner of depths which have served to hide shame and guilt. To say this book is comforting and enlightening is an understatement."

reviewed by Sandra Falconer Pace


New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2001
ISBN 1-57224-228-0 Paperback


© The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers