Post-Placement Workbook: Expectations of Friends & Family

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One of the over-looked issues in expectations is what we expect or expected from our friends and families as we went through our relinquishment process, and as we currently experience post-relinquishment issues.It is normal, but perhaps not realistic,for us to assume that those closest to us know what our needs are and can meet them. Yet, what we forget is that they have very little knowledge about relinquishment issues.
We may expect certain things from them but when they don’t follow through, we are then faced with dealing with disappointment. Thoughts like, "They think badly of me," or, "They just don’t understand," or, "They don’t want to deal with me," or, "I’m totally on my own here," come into our minds and before we realize it, we’re separated from and angry at those we love and need the most.


One of the most common statements birthparents admit to saying to one of their family members within a year of their relinquishment is, "You weren’t there for me." Many birthparents felt that they were alone, that their family and friends were ashamed of them, and wanted nothing more than for them to just move on. But in many cases this isn’t the truth.

One birth grandmother said to her daughter in a support group, "It wasn’t that I didn’t care or that I just wanted you to move on, it was that I had no idea what to say or how to help you. I was afraid to say anything or do anything. My mistake was just waiting for you to tell me you needed me. I should have asked more questions."

Our family and friends, for the most part, really do want to support us. But it’s up to us to let them know our expectations. They can’t meet our needs unless they are aware of what those needs are.

For each of your family members and friends write down one expectation you have for them. Even if, thus far, that expectation has not been met.

Father:

Mother:

Siblings:

Grandparents:

Aunt(s) or Uncle(s):

Friends:


It is easy to respond to a family member or friend who asks if we’re okay, or if we need anything by saying, "No, I’m fine, don’t worry." We tend to carry the emotional burden on our own, feeling that no one can really help us anyway. This is so far from the truth! If your sister or brother, or best friend was hurting or going through something difficult, would you want to help? So too do those in your life.

Now, think about the times, if any, the above people have attempted to talk with you or support you or help you. Write down how they did this:

Father:

Mother:

Siblings:

Grandparents:

Aunt(s) or Uncle(s):

Friends:


Now, write down how you responded to their attempt:

Father:

Mother:

Siblings:

Grandparents:

Aunt(s) or Uncle(s):

Friends:


Often, when we feel that family and friends are meeting our expectations we assume that they just don’t care, don’t want to make the effort, or just flat out think badly of us. But the truth is, family and friends often don’t know how to reach out. Or, they reach out based on a current situation they are experiencing in their lives. What you need to do is look realistically at your expectations of these people.

Father: What kind of personality does he have? Is he sensitive? Hard? Strict? No nonsense? Gentle? Kind? Write down a short description of your father’s personality


Now, look again at your expectation of him. Write it down again:


Are you asking a realistic expectation of your father?

Is what you need from him in his nature?

If not, how else can you seek to have your expectations met that are more likely?


Write down three ways in which you can communicate your expectations to your father:


If those expectations continue to be un-met, how will that make you feel?


In what ways are you taking those un-met expectations personally?


Fill in the following:

From my father I need...

I’m not sure he is able to give that to me in that way but instead he might be able to, and if he does that I will feel .

Mother: What kind of personality does she have? Is she sensitive? Hard? Strict? No nonsense? Gentle? Kind? Write down a short description of your mother’s personality:


Now, look again at your expectation of her. Write it down again:


Are you asking a realistic expectation of your mother?

Is what you need from her in her nature?

If not, how else can you seek to have your expectations met that are more likely?


Write down three ways in which you can communicate your expectations to your mother:


If those expectations continue to be un-met, how will that make you feel?


In what ways are you taking those un-met expectations personally?


Fill in the following:

From my mother I need...

I’m not sure she is able to give that to me in that way but instead she might be able to, and if she does that I will feel .

Friends: What kind of personalities do they have? Are they sensitive? Hard? Strict? No nonsense? Gentle? Kind? Write down a short description of your friend’s personalities:


Now, look again at your expectations of them. Write it down again:


Are you asking a realistic expectation of your friends?


Is what you need from them in their nature?


If not, how else can you seek to have your expectations met that are more likely?


Write down three ways in which you can communicate your expectations to your friends:


If those expectations continue to be unmet, how will that make you feel?


In what ways are you taking those un-met expectations personally?


Fill in the following:

From my friends I need ...

I’m not sure they are able to give that to me in that way but instead they might be able to, and if they do that I will feel ...



Once you have made these people aware of your expectations you are then free to either accept the ways in which they are able to meet them, compromise, or let go altogether of any expectations you had and seek to get them met elsewhere. Taking their inability to meet your expectations personally will only harm you, not them. For whatever reasons they may not be in a position to meet your needs, know that it is not because anything is wrong with you.

You need a support system in your life. To think that the emotional impact of relinquishment is something you can handle on your own in secret is setting yourself up for failure. But also know, those you love need your help to help you.


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