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Auntie Cee

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When adopted siblings meet: the relationship after a reunion
« on: April 22, 2020, 02:19:59 PM »

When adopted siblings meet: the relationship after a reunion
News of adopted siblings who discover each other as adults make for heart-warming tales. But how does the relationship progress after the first meeting?

By Olivia Goldhill

2:43 PM BST 18 May 2015

Two biological siblings who were adopted and grew up apart have reconnected after they both enrolled in a creative writing class at Columbia University. Lizzie Valverde, 35, and Katy Olson, 34, were born to the same mother but were put up for adoption, and grew up in New Jersey and Florida respectively. Both moved to New York and decided to study writing in their thirties, and both were accepted at the School of General Studies, Columbia University.  In January 2013, the pair sat across from each other in the same writing class and, when Lizzie introduced herself to the group, Katy immediately realised that her life story matched details of her own adoption. After class, Katy quizzed Lizzie on her maiden name, where she’d been adopted, and whether she lived in New Jersey.  “I think we’re sisters,” said Katy, speaking to the New York Times.

“Is this real life?” her sister replied.

Since their first meeting, both women have been introduced to each other’s adoptive families and celebrate holidays together. But though tales of adoptive reunions are incredible, a chance meeting is only the beginning of the family story, not the ending. The relationships formed after adopted siblings discover each other can be extremely emotional and aren’t necessarily straightforward.

An imaginary friend come to life

Adopted twins Samantha Futerman, 26, and Anaïs Bordier, 26, made international headlines when they reconnected with each other through Facebook in December 2012.  Both were born in Seoul, South Korea but while Anaïs was adopted by a French family and grew up in Paris, Samantha was raised in New Jersey, the United States. A friend of Anaïs spotted Samantha, who’s currently working as an actress in Los Angeles, in a YouTube video, and sent the link to Anaïs. She was immediately struck by the physical likeness and soon discovered that they had the same date and place of birth, and had both been adopted. The two messaged on Facebook, then Skyped, and visited each other, before a DNA test in February 2014 proved that the two are twins.  For Samantha and Anaïs, the transition from strangers to twins was incredibly smooth. The first time they spoke on Skype they talked for three hours, and they’ve been a part of each other lives ever since.  “We were immediately comfortable with each other,” Samantha told Cosmopolitan. “And it never really went away. She'll text me and be like, "I want to drink my tea but it's too hot," you know? Just random things about the day to feel like we're connected.”

Their adopted families also quickly connected. Both Anaïs’s and Samantha’s dads share the same career, and their mums email regularly. And Anaïs says she feels like she was looking for her twin all her life.  “I did feel like I missed something,” she told Good Morning America. “I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid. It happens to a lot of kids, but I had an imaginary friend and she was called Anne I needed that comfort, I guess.”

An emotional reunion and a major life change

But not everyone finds the process of discovery a sibling to be quite so seamless. Psychologist Dr. Phil urges caution for those who find a biological sibling and warns that planning is advisable before the first meeting.  “You can't turn the clock back or expect to fill the role that you have not played all these years,” he writes on his website. “You are adults, strangers with genetic ties, coming together to build a relationship. Be realistic about the role that you feel you can play in their life and vice versa.”

Dr. Phil advises siblings to moderate their expectations and take the relationship slowly. There’s always a chance that biological siblings who find each other later in life could choose to part ways again.  “This is a marathon and not a sprint. Be patient and let it unfold naturally so that it will be lasting. You don't want to do anything that would cause this coming together to separate you again,” writes Dr. Phil.

Shock and regret

Siblings Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein have the experience that warrants Dr. Phil’s words of caution. Elyse discovered her biological sister after she decided to search for her birth mother, age 35, and an adoption agency put her in touch with Paula.   Although they were delighted to find each other, they also struggled to build their relationship. "There were periods when I wished I hadn't been found,” Paula told The Guardian. “I was at the stage in my life when I didn't want this kind of complication. I had my family, I had my career. I wasn't looking for an intense, difficult relationship and I didn't really know her well enough to tell her that.”

After the siblings were reunited, Paula says she was in shock, and people would tell her, “My God, what has happened? You look awful.”

Both women questioned what their genetic link meant, and didn’t have the natural chatter that’s shared by siblings who grow up together. When Paula went to visit Elyse in Paris, the relationship was so tense that Paula considered vanishing from her sister’s life once again.  “I felt more anxious than I have ever felt,” says Paula. “And angry. Anger at being found and anger at having to make up for lost time.”

Despite the angst, the siblings have written a book, Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited, on their separation and reunion, and are still in touch. A blood link is not enough to build a sibling relationship, and Elyse and Paula had to work to become true sisters post-dramatic reunion. But once the women discovered their genetic ties, each found it impossible to forget that they had a sister.

Lost Mother

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Re: When adopted siblings meet: the relationship after a reunion
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2020, 01:39:04 PM »
I think people assume adopted adults will automatically get on well with their natural family when, in fact, it's like any family it doesn't mean all will get on fine.  My mum wanted my child out of my life and when reunion happened she was angry and refused to have anything to do with him.