Reactions to rejection

Reactions to rejection

This leaflet has been written from our experience and expertise and also with help from external research*. In this leaflet we discuss reactions to rejection and how you can cope with these various reactions.

If you have difficulties with language or reading, please let us know and we will read this information over the phone or to someone who can support you.  Should you need any further information or support about this matter you can phone or email us via the details on our website.

Rejection is often hard to accept.  Your feelings may be one of hurt, upset or anger.  It is hard to understand why your birth relative does not feel as excited as you do.  Some responses are as follows, but please talk with us if you are struggling with any of these reactions because we can help you to understand and feel better sooner.    

A natural response may be to want to fight back and by getting angry, but there are other strategies for dealing with rejection.   You are entitled to your anger, but it will not benefit you if it goes on for ever.  You may also feel deeply hurt and sad by not being accepted by your natural birth relative and this may stay with you for some time.  This is an understandable and perfectly normal and natural response because your hopes and dreams will be crushed.  Some people even have suicidal thoughts following this experience.      The best solution is always to talk it over with someone, and we have qualified counsellors who will help do this with you and who are experienced at helping people through this temporary crisis.     However, we are not any emergency service so in an emergency and if you think you will act on any suicidal thoughts please call The Samaritans in the first instance on

116 123 or e mail .  Or if you are in a mental health emergency and you are in danger please dial 999.    

Being prepared is helpful, and we always try to make people as ready as possible for this outcome before we embark on this journey with you.  We will continue to support you through the rest of this journey.    

If you are angry you could redirect your anger, and it is best not to hit out at people or resort to abusive measures or blaming others.  You could for example search for other relatives instead.

Talking will definitely help.  We usually advise people that this decision on the part of a relative will not be personal to them, and probably it relates to personal things in their own lives such as stress, privacy, difficulty in thinking about the adoptive process, or they may have mental health or health issues which mean they do not feel at their best.    It may just not be the right time for them. Sometimes people come back to us months later when they are ready, but we don’t want to build false hope for you on this. 

Identify the Positive – i.e. you did all that you could do, you saw it through until the end, your search is on file and you let the person know you were thinking of them.  This is indeed a great positive and you have done all you can do.  Tell yourself you did well.   

Get support.  Counselling really does help, and we have helped many people come to terms with this scenario.  Please ask for counselling with our service – we will help you. 

In the long run few adopted people are rejected outright but we know that it does happen, and if it happens to you, you may wonder ‘why me’.  It won’t be personal. 

The main reason for rejection seems to be when subjects have kept the adoption a secret and they don’t want their thoughts to be disturbed by emotional connection.  They defend themselves from this shock and surprise with an outright ‘no’.

If you have had this experience and you feel sad, upset or angry.  Please let us help you by arranging an appointment through Alison.

and in an emergency contact the Samaritans on 116123 or

or dial 999.   

* The Adoption Reunion Handbook by Julia Feast, David Howe and Liz Trinder.  (Wiley 2004 p.43)