Challenges in family reunions
While family reunions between adopted children and their biological parents are much anticipated, they can be emotionally intense, says Mr Wong Wei Lei, senior social worker at Touch Adoption Services.
"While a successful reunion can bring much healing, connection and closure to both the adopted person and the birth parents, there are many unknowns and a search will also bring to surface again the grief over the loss of the relationship and the 'lost years'," he says.
There are also other challenges in the process, such as a sense of disillusionment, he points out.
"The adopted person may also learn that he or she has very little in common with the birth family, and none of the fantasies he had about them were even close to the truth.
"Sometimes the person who is found is not as ready to meet as the searcher is, and may refuse a reunion which leads to more rejection and, for the adopted person, a second 'abandonment'," he adds.
Nevertheless, there can be happy endings.
Strengthened family relations
Successful reunions have the potential to strengthen ties within the adoptive family, because the process dispels fears that the birth parent, once found, will somehow steal the child's love and affection for his adoptive parents, explains Mr Wong.
"Having found healing and closure, the adoptee can now expand her circle of love to members of both families - adoptive and biological," he adds.
Mr Wong clarifies that it is common for adopted children to look for their birth parents to fill in the missing pieces in their lives, but for every person, the intensity of this need varies.