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Respectful Ways to Talk About Adoption with Others

Adoption is an incredible way to start and grow a family. For many, however, adoption can also be a sensitive and emotional subject to discuss. Conversations about adoption, therefore, should be met with compassion and respect. In the United States, over 1.8 million children have joined their families through adoption. Even more Americans have been touched by adoption in one way or another, either by being adopted ourselves, adopting a child, or just knowing someone who has been a part of the equation.

This is one of many reasons Adoptions With Love wants to spread awareness on the importance of positive adoption language in everyday conversations. Whether you are an adoptive parent, birth parent, or were adopted, the language in which you speak about your experience with adoption can make a big impact on everyone involved. Even if you are not a part of the adoption triad, the language you use to talk about the subject can impact how others perceive it. In this article, Adoptions With Love will discuss some of the respectful ways to talk about adoption, including words and phrases to avoid.

Whether it is intended or not, some people will talk about adoption using phrases that feel very negative and that, as an adoptive family or birth parent, can feel quite hurtful. For example, some people may use the term “give up for adoption” in when referring to the selfless act of making an adoption plan for a child. Another common phrase is “real parents,” which some may unknowingly use when referring to a child’s biological parents. Adoptive parents would agree that they are very much real parents, putting in great time, care, and love needed to raise a healthy child.

As a member of the adoption triad, it is important that you become an advocate of adoption, and that you educate others on how to talk about adoption in a positive, respectful manner. When you hear inaccurate phrases of misinformation regarding adoption, do your best to correct it respectfully, without being defensive. Be an educator. For example:

If you are a birth parent who made an adoption plan, people may say to you, “I could never give my baby up like you did.” Your reply may be:

I did not “give up” my baby, I gave my baby the best possible life I could give at the time. I placed him/her in a loving home, with a stable and supportive family, where he/she will encounter so many new opportunities. I made a thoughtful adoption plan for my child’s life.

For more ideas, read one birth mother’s perspective here.

If you are an adoptive parent, you may hear people say, “You are a saint for adopting a child in need!” or “How lucky your child is to have found you!” In return, you may say:

We are the lucky ones, to be able to call ourselves parents. We needed our child, just as much as he/she needed us.

Adoptive parents also hear things like, “How could anyone give away such as a beautiful child? The birth mother must have been a teenager, poor, or on drugs.” Your reply may be:

While we want to respect our birth mother’s privacy, the truth is, most birth mothers who choose adoption are in their twenties. They are thoughtful young women who make a plan in their child’s best interest, to give their child the best possible life – We are so grateful that she chose us to fulfill it.

If you were adopted, or if you adopted a child, you may be asked questions such as, “Who are your real parents and why aren’t you with them?” The proper response would be:

My parents are my real parents. They raised me, fed me, taught me, supported me just like your parents do. If you are referring to my biological parents, that information is private. I can tell you that they loved me and wanted me to have the best possible life, and that life is here with my parents.

Positive vs. Negative Adoption Language Examples

If you have not been personally involved with adoption, it is important to be sensitive to how you talk about it. The impact of certain words can cause pain, even when unintended, if phrased the wrong way.  Here are some more examples of the most commonly used negative adoption language are listed below, as well as the positive phrases that should be used instead when you want to talk about adoption:

Don’t Say: Instead Use:
Real Parent Birth Parent or Biological Parent
Give Up for Adoption Make an Adoption Plan
Put Up for Adoption Choose Adoption
Keep Your Baby Parent Your Child
Unwanted Pregnancy Unintended Pregnancy
Unwanted Child Child Placed for Adoption
Adopted Child My Child / Their Child
Is Adopted Was Adopted
Adoptive Parent Parent
Track Down Parents Search
Adoptable Child Waiting Child
Relinquished Made an Adoption Plan

Other Dos and Don’ts on How to Talk About Adoption

Do recognize that a child will come to understand adoption gradually, as he or she grows, just like any other developmental leaps.

Don’t bluntly ask an adoptive parent if he/she plans on telling the child he/she is adopted. Most likely, this is already a conversation in the home. As most adoptive parents understand, it is important to openly discuss the adoption with the child continually throughout his/her life.

Do use a sympathetic and sensitive tone when discussing adoption. You do not know how much adoptive parents have been through with infertility, or other very personal factors that lead to the decision to adoption. You also do not know the emotional journey that birth parents experienced in making their decision.

Don’t ask adoptive parents how much the adoption cost. Children are not property to be purchased, and the fees that go toward the adoption process should not be openly discussed.

If you are an adoptive parent, Do discuss intercultural and/or interracial relationships among your family. Many blended families make it a point to celebrate their children’s culture and heritage – as they should! A person’s background is part of what makes them so special.

Don’t ignore your child’s ethnicity, as if it is not a positive part of his or her identity.

Keep a positive message is another important factor to keep in mind when discussing adoption. While you may have the best intentions when you say that a child is “so much better off to have you as his parent,” it is problematic. Why? You are assuming that the birth parent was unfit to raise a child. This statement also implies that the adoptive parents should be glorified. These are all common misconceptions of adoption that only continue to spread stereotypes and misinformation.

Positive language is the best way to talk about adoption because it helps debunk adoption myths and stigmas that adoption once had. It also helps educate others on this topic. In using positive adoption language, we celebrate and show respect to birth parents for making that loving, courageous, and selfless choice; to parents by adoption, we validate their role as their child’s forever family; and to adopted children, we recognize his/her story, family, and extended family.

For even more information on how to talk about adoption, please download our free Guide to Talking About Adoption below. If you are an adoptive family or expectant/birth parent looking to learn more about adoption, please do not hesitate to call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731. Our caring staff is available any day and any time.

How to Answer Others’ Questions About Adoption

The adoption journey is one that is both emotional and beautiful. Whether you are an adoptive parent or birth parent, you probably understand these feelings firsthand. As emotional and life-changing adoption was for you, it was one of the most positive decisions you have ever made. More than likely, you want to talk about it. You may be happy to answer others’ questions about adoption when they are truly curious about your experience. Sometimes, however, people ask tough questions that can be hard to answer.

Anyone closely involved with adoption may understand it is an incredibly sensitive process, but others on the outside – even relatives – may not. Even when intentions are good, feelings may get hurt because of the seemingly ignorant questions asked or comments made by others.

At Adoptions With Love, we want our adoptive parents and birth parents to feel confident in their decisions, and to be able to comfortably address the many adoption questions that will arise throughout theirs’ and their child’s life. We also see these questions as opportunities to help educate others about adoption and all its positive aspects. Here, we will address some of those adoption questions that may not be so easy to answer.

Adoption Questions & Answers for Adoptive Parents

Adoptive parents make the decision to adopt for numerous reasons. You may have struggled with infertility, been influenced by another adoption, or simply are not in a relationship that enables you to conceive a child. These are all personal and private matters that are your business first and foremost. When someone bluntly asks, “Why did you adopt?” Do not be afraid to say that that information is personal and private. There is no more explanation necessary unless you truly desire to share. Some people may try to empathize with you, having responses such as, “Too bad you could not have children of your own.” Try not to take this personally. Instead, explain that they mean you could not have a child biologically but that your child is very much your own. By law, you are his/her parent(s).

Another common adoption question adoptive parents get all the time is, “What happened to your child’s real parents?” This one may be best handled with a bit of humor. You could reply, “Oh, dear, do I not look real again?” Or, to better drive home the point, “Last I checked, I am a very real parent. I am the one changing the diapers and staying up all hours of the night.” People who do not understand adoption often confuse the word “real” for “biological.” You may also respond with, “Do you mean his biological parents? If so, we have lots of great information about them but we are keeping that private for now.”

The topic of adoption fees can be a focus of fascination for some outsiders. Relatives, friends, or even strangers may just be curious about the expense or may be considering adopting themselves and looking for an inside point of view. Questions as bold as, “How much did he cost?” may pop up. This can, of course, take a parent by surprise. Think about your response carefully.

For example, you may explain, “We did not pay for our child. With adoption, you pay for legal, social work, and medical fees.” If a person is truly curious about costs, you may choose to share some general information while keeping your expenses private: “The average cost of adoption today is between $20- and $30,000, however grants, credits, and reimbursements can help with the costs.” You can also answer their question with a question: “Are you interested in adopting a child?”

Many people do not realize that most domestic adoptions today are open adoptions. Therefore, many adoption questions may be related to your child’s birth parents. You may be asked questions like, “Are you worried about his birth mother coming back for him?” or “Are you going to tell him about his birth parents?” These are those moments we mentioned earlier, which present great opportunity for you – the adoptive parent – to drop some knowledge and spread awareness about adoption. You can explain:

  • Your child is your child by law. Therefore, no one can take him/her away.
  • Your child already knows he/she is adopted. You talk about adoption openly and regularly with your child and will continue to do so as he/she grows. Therefore, it is not some big, bad secret that you will reveal someday (like what is sometimes seen on TV). If you have an open adoption, you may also take this time to explain that you maintain contact with your child’s birth parent(s), and that your child has/will have opportunities to meet her (or them) someday.

No matter the approach from others’ adoption questions, it is important to remind yourself that, unfortunately, many people are unaware and uneducated when it comes to adoption language. This will help you keep your cool and handle these adoption questions with grace and positivity – which will influence the way your child someday answers questions like these, too.

Adoption Questions & Answers for Birth Parents

As if making an adoption plan for your child was not hard enough, you may sometimes face some harsh and hurtful questions from others about your decision to place. It is important, however, to keep in mind where your original decision stemmed from: Love. Your selfless decision to create a plan for your child’s life – to choose a loving family and a stable home for your child to grow – was perhaps the most thoughtful and courageous choice you could have ever made for your child. Still, there will be adoption questions from those who do not quite understand the emotion and consideration that went into your adoption plan. Here is how to tackle some of their questions about adoption:

A very common question birth mothers are asked is, “Why did you give up your child?” In fact, it is very common to hear people say, “give up” and “put up” for adoption. These phrases are wrong and hearing them is a good opportunity for you to explain why. You may say something like, “I did not ‘give her up’, I chose to make an adoption plan for her. I looked through families and chose the perfect one to raise her, who could give her a stable home, financial support, and the best life possible. I planned for her/him. I gave him/her opportunity.

A common set of follow-up questions may sound something like, How come you didn’t want her? or “Don’t you love your baby?” Again, these are inaccurate remarks. You came to your decision to make an adoption plan out of love, and it is fair-game to say this: “Actually, I love her so much that I decided to carry her to term and give her a life better than what I could provide at the time.”

One of the birth mothers that chose adoption through Adoptions With Love suggests the same sort of response:

“Yes. More than the earth. More than you can imagine. Imagine what it takes to go through pregnancy, go through childbirth, hold your beautiful baby in your arms and accept that you cannot provide the life you think your child deserves. It’s impossible. It’s an impossible choice and it hurts. It’s the hardest choice I’ve ever made in my entire life, no contest. But the love you have for your child outweighs everything… You make that choice for your child, not for you, BECAUSE you love them so much.” (Read her full interview about adoption language here.)

Making an adoption plan for your child is something you should be proud of. So, when someone asks, “Do you regret your decision?” Just answer confidently, explaining how you brought this incredible person into the world, and this child brought more joy and love to her adoptive parents than they could have ever imagined. She made them the parents they have always wanted to be, and they can provide her with the life and opportunity she deserves. How could a person regret an incredible, life-changing move like that?

Some people may ask you if you ever think about your child or whether you want to see him/her again someday. Since most private adoptions in the U.S. are open adoptions, it is not the cut-off situation they are imagining. More than likely, you think about your child all the time, and you hope and plan to see him/her again someday. When you do, you will remind your child that he/she is loved very much. He/she will already know that, since you placed your child with such a loving adoptive family, who kept you and your family background an ongoing part of the discussion.

Reaching Out for More Guidance

No matter your position, adoption is a beautiful journey that requires time, patience, and plenty of heart. The staff at Adoptions With Love wants to help guide you through that process as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. Reach out to us any time of day at 1-800-722-7731, or text us at 617-777-0072, for more advice on answering questions about adoption. Or, you may download our free “Guide to Talking About Adoption” below.

A Father’s Day Message to All the Fathers Touched by Adoption

Father’s Day is a special time for us to honor all the men in our lives who helped to make us who we are today – those who raised us and those who gave us life. There is no single definition of a father; no single word that buckets all fathers together. Every father (and father-to-be) has a story. Whether you are father by birth or by adoption, or even just setting out on your adoption journey to become a dad, you deserve some recognition and love on this special occasion.

Here at Adoptions With Love, we recognize the work, care, and sacrifice needed to become a great dad. Well, Dad, this one is for you. Here, we will acknowledge the many different roles that men take on when it comes to helping create or raise a family.

For the Adoptive Fathers: You are the Real Deal!

Dads are men who parent and raise a child, no matter the biological connection. DNA does not factor into the complex and joyous role that is being a true “dad.” Adoptive fathers (or simply, fathers) make the profound decision to care for a child and love him/her with every resource possible. From the financial commitment to emotional support and guidance, adoptive fathers help their children grow into incredible adults. Father’s Day is certainly a day for you, adoptive dad. You are part of the reason your child is so happy, so engaged, and so spirited.

Adoptions With Love has the rare opportunity to meet with prospective adoptive families much like yours, and to discuss the hopes and dreams of the parents looking to adopt. We often hear from waiting adoptive dads who look forward to playing ball in the backyard, taking the family on road trips, and making memories to last a lifetime.

In fact, Adoptions With Love recently heard from one father who adopted an infant son through our agency. In an open letter to his son, Ben, he shared:

“Your Mom and I often lay in bed at night and talk about how lucky we are. Of course, we did not plan to have years of struggle starting a family.  We did our best to stay positive, optimistic and committed to our family plan. I will never forget the day we received the call and the day we first met. These are memories I will treasure forever. You have enriched our lives in ways that neither your Mom nor I could have ever imagined.”

It is clear to see that the love this father has for Ben is real, and that he is just as much as father as anyone else raising a child. You can read his full letter here.

For the Dads Waiting to Adopt: Let the Journey Begin!

For the men who are amid the adoption process and/or awaiting your child to be matched with you: Your job has already begun. You will soon become a role model to this growing person who will forever look up to you for guidance and support. Adoption is a beautiful, yet often long and winding journey, full of peaks and valleys. You deserve to be celebrated on Father’s Day as much as those men already playing the part.

“If there’s anyone out there who is trying and they’re just losing hope…just hang in there. Try every avenue; try anything you can do, because you’ll get there. You’ll end up with a family, and it’s so worth it. It is the most ‘worth it’ thing.” – Jimmy Fallon.

For those hopeful fathers just starting the adoption journey, Adoptions With Love can help guide you through the adoption process. Our caring staff will sit down with you to get to know your family, and to talk about your hopes and needs as well as Massachusetts’ adoption requirements. We will help you navigate everything from the home study and application process to the adoption finalization in court. We also provide post-adoption counseling for adoptive families, and have a dedicated eBook about the Massachusetts adoption process.

For the Fathers Who Helped Make an Adoption Plan

While Birth Father’s Day is not an official day, you should know that you are irreplaceable in your child’s life. You are an inherent piece of your child. You helped bring a beautiful child into this world – and provided him/her the opportunity to be raised by an amazing family with an abundance of love to give. The fact of the matter is simple: You lovingly made an adoption plan to ensure your child has the best possible life, even if it was not with you and his/her birth mother. Making an adoption plan is one of the most courageous and selfless acts a father can do for his child.  The profound importance of this impacts your   child and his or her adoptive parents. The adoptive parents are eternally grateful for your role in completing their family. You deserve recognition and celebration on this Father’s Day, for helping to make a family come together.

Father’s Day for All the Dads

Great dads of all walks of life – no matter their role – should be celebrated on Father’s Day. Whether you are an adoptive father, a prospective adoptive father, or a birth father who made an adoption plan – you are a hero! You play an important role in a child’s life and help shape who they will become as an adult. Be proud of your position in this incredible journey.

Adoptions With Love supports all fathers looking to adopt or make an adoption plan. Please reach out to our caring staff any time at 1-800-722-7731, text us confidentially at 1-617-777-0072, or email us at

11 Famous Men Who Have Been Touched by Adoption

Adoption is a part of life that many people have experienced in one way or another – either by adopting a child, being adopted, or lovingly choosing an adoption plan for his/her own child. It is something that affects people of all walks of life. Even celebrities!

While many of us may think of famous women like Madonna or Hoda Kotb when we hear “celebrity” and “adoption” in the same breath, there are also many famous men out there who have been touched by this loving act. In light of Father’s Day this month, Adoptions With Love has put together a list of some famous men who have an adoption story to share – some who have adopted, some who were adopted, and some whose biological child was placed. Check it out!

  1. Hugh Jackman (Adoptive Father)hugh jackman children adopted

We first mentioned superhero and super-dad Hugh Jackman in our blog about Famous Adoptive Fathers. The actor and his wife, Deborra (is this spelled correctly?)-Lee Furness, have openly and proudly discussed the adoption of their mixed-race children, Oscar and Ava. The actor has been quoted as saying, “Adoption is about taking a baby into your home — and your heart. [It is] the best thing [we have] ever done.”

  1. Ewan McGregor (Adoptive Father)

Before taking on the Dark Side in “Star Wars,” the Scottish actor started a family. He has two biological children and two adopted children. The actor welcomed Jamiyan from Mongolia in 2008 and Annouk in 2011. He is notoriously private when it comes to his family, but has stated that he spends as much time with his children as possible:

“I’ve tried to make sure that my daughters felt that they were each very special to me, and that I’d always make time for them – I think that’s one of the most important things to do as a dad. You need to pay attention.”

  1. Tom Cruise (Adoptive Father)

After reaching fame from hit films such as “Risky Business” and “A Few Good Men,” Tom Cruise adopted his daughter, Isabella, with then-wife Nicole Kidman. Two years later, the celebrity couple welcomed their adopted son, Connor, to their family. In discussing his family make-up, comprised of both adopted and biological children, this famous father said:

“My adopted children are my own children. There is no separation in that for me whatsoever. There’s no way there is any difference and anyone who has adopted would say the same. I’ve been up in the middle of the night changing diapers, there’s no question in terms of me being the father; that bond couldn’t be any stronger.”

  1. Ty Burrell (Adoptive Father)

The “Modern Family” star and his wife, Holly, married in 2000 and have built quite the “modern family” since. The two announced the adoption of their first daughter, Frances, in March 2010. Two years later, they welcomed their second adopted daughter home. In an interview about his work on Disney’s “Finding Dory,” Burrell once explained that one of the best unplanned things to ever happen to him were adopting his children:

“In a in a weird way, it wasn’t planned, it’s a weird thing how adoptions can sometimes be as irrational as regular birth,” the actor said of their decision to adopt. “My wife Holly and I were on an airplane on a flight from LA to New York and when we got on the flight, we had intended to never have kids… When we got off in New York, we were crying that we were going to have a kid, so it was unplanned. And then, when we did it again, it was similarly irrational.”

  1. Scott Hamilton (Adopted Person & Adoptive Father)scott hamilton children

Long before the Olympic gold medal champion skater was dazzling the world with his triple axels and backflips on ice, he was adopted at six-weeks-old by Dorothy and Ernest Hamilton. Ernest was a professor of biology at Bowling Green State University and Dorothy was a grade school teacher who later became an associate professor at Bowling Green. Scott Hamilton has an older sister, Susan, who was the family’s firstborn biological child, as well as a younger brother, who is also adopted.

Fast-forward a few decades, and Scott Hamilton’s adoption story continues. In 2010, he and his wife, Tracie, decided to adopt two children from Haiti after the massive earthquake hit. After two years of the international adoption process, they welcomed their two children Jean Paul and Evelyne home.

  1. Jamie Foxx (Adopted Person)

Image result for jamie foxx

The Oscar-winning actor and talented singer is a second-generation adoptee — his mother was adopted, as well. His maternal grandmother adopted him when he was just seven-months-old. In September of 2017, he opened up about his adoption story on his hit game show, “Beat Shazam,” telling the audience:

“You know what’s amazing? I was adopted at seven months and I’m going to tell you what that means. My grandmother? That’s not actually my biological grandmother. That’s somebody who said, ‘I see something in that little boy that’s very special’… And she made sure I had every tool that I needed to grow and expand.”

  1. Ray Liotta (Adopted Person)

This Emmy-winning “Goodfella” was born in New Jersey and adopted by Mary and Alfred Liotta when he was just six-months-old. Since he was a child, he knew he was adopted – he even did a show-and tell-report on his adoption story when he was in kindergarten. Liotta met his birth parents and siblings when he was in his 40s. In an interview with Larry King, Liotta once said:

“I used to wear being adopted on my sleeve… And I realized when I met [my birth mother], there were really valid reasons, and that almost 99 percent of kids that are put up for adoption are always for the betterment of the kid. The household, the situation, the age just dictates that that’s the best thing to do for the child.”

  1. Marcus Samuelsson (Adopted Person)

You may recognize Marcus Samuelsson from his appearances on Chopped, Iron Chef, Top Chef, and Beat Bobby Flay, among many other Food Network favorites. What many do not know, however, is that this famed chef was also adopted. He was born in Ethiopia, adopted and raised by a white couple in Sweden. A few years ago, Samuelsson wrote about his adoption journey, and about trans-racial adoption, in the Huffington Post:

Related image“The journey into adoption started for my parents, as it does with so many families: my mother and father desperately wanted to have kids, but they couldn’t. I came into this environment where there was so much love, so much positive energy. I never heard my parents say, “We have adopted kids.” The minute my sister Linda and I landed in Sweden, we were their kids,” Samuelsson begins.

Samuelsson continues to recognize his adoptive parents, and their differences, throughout his article: “We knew we had different skin colors and were from different countries, but that never stopped my parents from doing the hard work of parenting. My parents were there: in front of me, behind me, in the middle of my life at all times: reprimanding me, giving me confidence, teaching me valuable lessons, to help make me the man I am today.”

  1. Steve Jobs (Adopted Person)

Steve Jobs is a household name in the tech world. He is the founder of Apple computers, the mind behind the Mac, and the innovator behind your iPhone. Did you know that Steve Jobs was also adopted as an infant?

Steve Jobs was raised in a stable, lower middle-class home by two loving adoptive parents. He believed that his interest in computers stemmed from his adoptive father, Paul, a machinist who spent his spare time fixing old cars. Growing up, Jobs adored his father and called him “a genius with his hands.” His father taught him the basics of electronics and the two would spend weekends together looking for spare parts. According to sources, Jobs’ parents were warm, loving, and made him feel special, saying they had “picked him out.” They also carried out their promise to Jobs’ birth mother to send him to college, though he dropped out after one year. It is believed that, if Steve Jobs had been raised by his birth parents (who led very nomadic lives), he would not have fostered the same passion for technology.

  1. Andy Kaufman (Birth Father)

Before becoming a famed comedian, Andy Kaufman and his high school girlfriend made an adoption plan for their infant daughter in 1969. Two decades later, after a search for her birth mother, Maria Bellu-Colonna learned she was Kaufman’s birth daughter. She then reunited with her birth mother, paternal grandfather, uncle, and aunt, but due to his passing, never met Andy himself.

Maria Bellu says her adoption experience was generally positive. “I was always told, ‘You’re adopted, and that’s why you’re so special to us,’” she explains. “But I always felt I was different from the people who were bringing me up,” which is what encouraged her adoption search.

  1. Rod Stewart (Birth Father)

Image result for rod stewart and sarah streeter

Before the fame and fortune, Rod Stewart was just a teenager with a heart full of love and passion, but not a penny in his pocket. When he was 17 or 18-years-old, Stewart and his then-girlfriend, Sue Boffey, got pregnant. “I was stone broke,” the rock star now recalls, and could not afford to raise a child. The romance came to an end and the young couple chose to make an adoption plan for their baby girl.

Rod Stewart’s first biological daughter, Sarah Streeter, is now 55-years-old and the two are in touch. She found him when she turned 18, but it took time for the birth father and daughter to build a relationship. It has been a process, they both admit, but getting to know each other has been both delicate and rewarding.

“There’s no anger there,” Streeter has said of her feelings on adoption and her birth parents’ choice. “I never was angry about what happened really, just sad. But now I’m older I see things differently and realize that it has been as difficult for him over the years as it has been for me. Now we’re at the start of a new chapter, and that’s wonderful.”

As evidenced by this list, it is clear that adoption touches all kinds of people, even celebrities. In addition to the 11 famous men listed here, Adoptions With Love also recognizes Nelson Mandela, George Lopez, John Lennon, Michael Bay, Babe Ruth, Jesse Jackson, Albert Einstein, Dave Thomas, famous athletes, and the millions of other men – famous or not – affected by adoption. Do you know of any other famous men touched by adoption? Share their stories here!

If you would like to grow your family through adoption, please visit If you know or love someone who is pregnant and would like to learn more about this choice, please do not hesitate to reach out by calling Adoptions With Love toll-free at 800-722-7731. We are here for you.

Common Open Adoption Challenges & How to Handle Them

When many women first come to Adoptions With Love, they are considering open adoption for their babies. They know the positive outcomes of open adoption, however, often worry that openness (or contact) with an adoptive family might also be too overwhelming. They are unsure which level of open adoption will be most comfortable, or how much communication they should commit to at the time. Similarly, we frequently hear from hopeful parents that are hesitant to commit to an open adoption relationship. They worry that having contact with biological parents might be too confusing for their future child. They are unsure if they should consider openness as an option for their family.

These are common concerns among both waiting adoptive parents and newly expectant/birth parents. They know the benefits that open adoption can bring to a child, but also fear the complicated relationships and conflicting conversations that openness can create. If you are considering open adoption, but are worried about problems arising after placement, you are not alone.

As an open adoption agency with over 32 years of experience, Adoptions With Love is very familiar with the challenges that can arise post-adoption. We have helped many expectant mothers, birth parents, and adoptive parents navigate sensitive adoption conversations, hard-to-meet expectations, and other open adoption concerns. We have also helped families shape very successful, healthy open adoption relationships by working through those challenges together. We can also help you.

Below are some common open adoption concerns among expectant, birth, and adoptive parents:

Challenge: Openness is “too much” –

Many expectant/birth parents will initially choose a fully open adoption for their baby, knowing that they want to stay in touch over the years. Sometimes, however, that level of openness can be overwhelming at first. Choosing adoption is a very emotional journey, one that involves both grief and loss. For some birth mothers, it may unexpectedly become too difficult to receive updates from the adoptive family. Other birth parents may decide that ongoing visits, phone calls, and emails are too overwhelming, and need space to move forward with their lives. Sometimes, adoptive parents may also need space in the beginning to bond with their new baby.

Resolution: A successful open adoption involves honesty. Be honest with your feelings and your comfort level. If anything changes, let the other family and/or your adoption counselor know. At Adoptions With Love, open adoption plans remain open for renegotiation as needs and feelings change. You may also consider a mediated or semi-open adoption through Adoptions With Love. Adoptive families send us letters and pictures, and we send these to the biological parents if and when they wish. In a semi-open adoption, “too much” is not much of a problem at all.

Challenge: Lack of privacy –

Open adoption involves an exchange of information between the birth parents and an adoptive family: names, phone numbers, emails, and sometimes photos of one another. When boundaries are not defined in open adoption agreements, this sharing of information can lead to overstepping. For example, a birth parent might share a photo of the baby online, with which the adoptive parents are not comfortable.

Resolution: When making an open adoption plan, it is absolutely essential to set boundaries, limitations and expectations. If you are an expectant/birth parent, make sure you are comfortable with everything outlined in your open adoption agreement. Ensure that the adoptive family understands and respects your needs and privacy. If you are an adoptive parent, you should also set boundaries in the best interest of your child. Adoptions With Love recommends keeping open adoption conversations offline or limited to a private, confidential platform. This will ensure that no personal information is lost to the vast World Wide Web. Read our eBook, “The Role of Social Media Among the Adoption Triad” for more tips on setting boundaries for social media.

Challenge: Undefined Roles –

Many families considering open adoption have concerns about the role of the birth parents: Will having a “birth mother” be confusing for the child? Will the adoptive parents have to share parental roles with the biological parents? In a successful open adoption, the answer is usually “no.” Children in open adoptions typically have a clear understanding of who each parent is and what role they play in the family. Sometimes, however, openness can create confusion for the parents without preliminary discussion. They may not know how to refer to the birth parents, or how much to involve them in caring for the baby or in important family decisions.

Resolution: Along with establishing boundaries, it is important to have preliminary discussions about roles and expectations in an open adoption. Understand that the adoptive parents are the daily caregivers, the nurturers, and that the birth parents are an important part of the child’s biology and roots. In the beginning, decide on names together – not for the child, but for the birth family. Does the birth mother want the child to call her “birth mom,” by her name, or something else? This will also help alleviate any confusion for the child.

Challenge: Unfulfilled Promises –

Unfilled promises are something that both birth parents and adoptive parents fear in open adoption situations. They worry about being cut-off or getting more/less contact than originally discussed. Many adoptive parents worry about getting their child’s hopes up, only to disappoint them if communication falls through.

Resolution: Do not make promises you know you cannot keep. Never commit to an openness level that you cannot maintain. Most of all think about your child and his or her best interests. How will your child feel if a promise is broken? How would that affect your long-term relationship with your child? Always keep respect, honesty, compromise, empathy, and commitment at the heart of your open adoption plan. An open adoption agreement and the involvement of an adoption agency can also help prevent unfulfilled promises and expectations.

To some people, open adoption sounds complicated and confusing. To others, it sounds like a very positive and bonding experience. If the open adoption is approached with care and respect, it can be an amazing gift to everyone involved.  The best interests of the child are paramount in making an open adoption plan. You can learn more about creating healthy open adoption relationships, and how to prevent open adoption problems, in our new eBook, “The Keys to a Successful Open Adoption.”

If at any point you need help in your open adoption, whether it is starting a plan or navigating a difficult conversation, know that Adoptions With Love is here for you. Call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072 to speak with one of our compassionate adoption counselors.


Happy President’s Day! Famous Presidents Touched by Adoption (& Their Inspiring Words)

President’s Day is right around the corner. On February 19, 2018, we will honor the many great leaders of our great nation. This year, Adoptions With Love would like to celebrate some of the nation’s former leaders, by sharing the stories of famous presidents who have been touched by adoption.

It is important to note that not all these presidents were personally involved in the adoption process. Not all these leaders knew adoption the same way we know it today. Adoption was very different decades ago. One thing is for certain, though: these figures held their families – and families nationwide, no matter their make-up – very close to their hearts.

President Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln was just a young boy when his mother passed away. When he was ten-years-old, his biological father re-married to a woman named Sarah Bush Johnston. She and Abraham quickly formed a very strong bond. Sarah encouraged Abraham to read, write, and practice public speaking. She also encouraged his love of critical thinking, and the two would spend hours together in deep conversation. Lincoln used all of that brain power to grow up and become the 16th President of the United States. He attributed much of his success to his stepmother, Sarah, who raised him and whom he called “mother.”

Lincoln has been famously quoted – in speaking of his stepmother: “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

President Gerald Ford

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The 38th President Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. in 1913. His parents divorced when he was two years old. After his mother remarried, he was adopted by his stepfather, Gerald R. Ford, although his name was not legally changed until 1935. When he was 17 years old, his parents sat him down to explain his circumstances surrounding his birth. He met his birth father the same year, but the two never formed a relationship.

When speaking of his parents, those who raised him, Ford has said: “My stepfather was a magnificent person and my mother equally wonderful. So I couldn’t have written a better prescription for a superb family upbringing.”


President Ronald Reagan

Image result for president ronald reaganWe recently wrote about President Reagan in our article about famous adoptive fathers. Because long before the presidential election, Ronald Reagan and his wife, actress Jane Wyman, became parents. They had their birth daughter, Maureen, in 1941 and just a few years later, adopted their son, Michael.

On his adoption, Michael Reagan has said: “My parents, Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman never referred to me as adopted. I was always their son.”

President Reagan wholeheartedly believed in adoption as a beautiful way to grow a family. He also knew that it was an incredible, loving, and selfless sacrifice for women facing unplanned pregnancy. President Reagan was so passionate about adoption, he declared the first National Adoption Awareness Week in 1984.

In a 1988 proclamation, Reagan wrote:

“Belonging to a family is a natural and vital component of life, and every child deserves to be a member of a loving and nurturing family. For many children, this becomes possible through life in an adoptive family.”

President Bill Clinton

The former president was born William Jefferson Blythe III in Hope, Arkansas, in 1946. His father passed away in an accident just three months before his birth, and his mother was unable to financially provide for her baby. She chose to go to school to become a nurse. While his mother was studying in New Orleans, Bill was raised by his grandparents, Eldridge and Edith Cassidy. His mother returned to Arkansas four years later. She married Roger Clinton, Sr., who officially adopted Bill as his son.

On the topic of adoption, President Clinton said: “We must work tirelessly to make sure that every boy and girl in America who is up for adoption has a family waiting to reach him or her. This is a season of miracles, and perhaps there is no greater miracle than finding a loving home for a child who needs one.”

President Clinton was so touched by adoption that, in 1995, he expanded National Adoption Awareness Week to the entire month of November. A few years later, Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services to expand the use of the Internet as a tool for children waiting to be adopted from foster care.

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Other Presidential Quotes on Adoption:

“As an unselfish, life-affirming, lifelong commitment, adoption is rooted in the virtues that define and strengthen a family and that, in turn, enrich the lives of individuals and the communities in which they live.”
– President George H. Bush, November 10th, 1992

“Through adoption, Americans can forever change not only a child’s life but also their own.”
– President George W. Bush, November 1st, 2002

An excerpt from President Barack Obama’s National Adoption Month Proclamation in 2011:

“The decision to adopt a child has brought profound joy and meaning into the lives of Americans across our Image result for president obamacountry.  Parents are moved to adopt for reasons as unique and varied as the children they embrace, but they are unified by the remarkable grace of their acts.  Adoptive families come in all forms…

“As parents and as family members, it is our task to do all we can to give our children the very best.  In caring for our youth and putting them before ourselves, we make a lasting investment not only in their future, but also in the prosperity and strength of our Nation in the years to come.  This month and throughout the year, let us recommit to ensuring every child is given the sustaining love of family, the assurance of a permanent home, and the supportive upbringing they deserve.”

No matter the circumstance, adoption has played a role in the lives of many great influencers in our country. As we celebrate our nation’s presidents, let us also honor those parents who helped raise and shape these inspiring leaders. All of the famous names listed above grew up to become incredible Americans with passion, integrity, and the motivation to achieve great success. Whether they were touched by adoption or simply adoption advocates, let their stories serve as great examples of the American Dream this President’s Day.

If you live in Massachusetts and are interested in adoption, please visit If you know or love someone who is pregnant and would like to learn more about this choice, please call Adoptions With Love toll-free at 800-722-7731. We are here for you.

What is an Open Adoption Agreement?

Whether you are an expectant/birth mother who has just selected a family for her baby, or a waiting adoptive parent who is considering open adoption, the topic of an “open adoption agreement” is sure to arise as you make your adoption plan.

An open adoption agreement is a formal, post-adoption contract that outlines expectations and boundaries for ongoing contact between birth parents and an adoptive family. In other words, it is a detailed guide stating if, how, and how much the birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted child will stay in touch after the adoption takes place. This agreement is typically developed by the birth parents and adoptive parents together, but written by a licensed adoption agency. It begins when the adoption is finalized, and lasts until the child turns 18. At that point, the child (as a young adult) can make decisions independently regarding the amount of contact he or she would like with the birth family.

Many adoption agencies today offer open adoption agreements because of the benefits they bring. Open adoption agreements can ease many anxieties that arise during the adoption process, such as: What if the adoptive parents want to meet in-person, but I am not ready for that? Or, what if I want more (or less) contact with my child’s birth family? What if the other party changes their phone number or address? What happens then? Open adoption contracts can also ensure that everyone stays happy, and that promises are kept.

In an open adoption agreement, there are less unknowns. This is because the birth parents and adoptive parents have come together to make a plan. They have discussed, whether directly or through an agency, the amount of communication they are comfortable having with one another post-placement. They share a mutual, unconditional love for their child and understand that, above all, the open adoption agreement was made in the best interest of their baby.

Like every adoption plan, every open adoption agreement is unique. They are based on the needs and wishes of each family involved. Some open adoption agreements, for example, will require letters and pictures to be sent to the birth mother once a year or more often. Other open adoption agreements will involve more intimate interactions, whether through phone calls, emails, texting, video chats, or in-person visits.

If you are an expectant/birth mother considering open adoption, know that this level of contact (and its frequency) are choices that you can make. Your open adoption plan and post-adoption contract will be completely based on your needs and comfort level. There is no minimum or maximum amount of contact you must have: Adoptions With Love can help you define the perfect amount of “openness” in your adoption plan. Rest assured that all our families have agreed to at least a semi-open adoption, meaning you can receive letters and pictures from the family through our adoption agency, if and when you wish.

An open adoption agreement gives both birth and adoptive families the opportunity to share their wishes, set clear boundaries, and establish expectations for the future: what form of contact they will have, how much contact they will have, how frequently they will be in touch, how the child will be involved, and also if that contact will be mediated by an adoption agency. Having this plan in place, and understanding it on both sides, will help ensure that communication and relationships stay consistent over the years.

It is important to note that open adoption agreements are usually written in accordance with the laws of each state. In many states, these post-adoption contracts are legal and binding. However, some leave room for renegotiation over the years. Open adoptions agreements usually include language that all parties take into consideration the best interests of the child throughout the longevity of the agreement.  At Adoptions With Love, for example, you will always have the opportunity to adjust the amount of openness in your contract as your family’s needs change. Please do not hesitate to contact Adoptions With Love to find out more about open adoption laws in your area.

Whether you are pregnant, have just given birth, or are an adoptive family considering open adoption, Adoptions With Love can help you create an open adoption agreement that works for everyone involved. Please call us at 800-722-7731 or visit to learn more.

10 Famous Women Touched by Adoption: Adoptive Mothers, Birth Mothers, and Celebrities Who Are Adoptees

Adoption is never an easy decision, but it is one of the most loving decisions a woman can make for her child when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. It is also a beautiful way to grow a family for those who cannot have children. Maybe adoption has touched your life in some way. It has also touched the lives of many different female celebrities who we know and love.

When most people think of celebrity adoptions, they think of the Jolie-Pitt clan. But Angelina is not the only adoptive mama in Hollywood. Adoptions With Love has put together a list of some other famous women who have an adoption story to share – some who have adopted, some who were adopted, and some who lovingly chose an adoption plan for their babies. Take a look!

  1. Kristin Davis (Adoptive Mother)Image result for kristin davis daughter

Most of us know Charlotte from Sex and the City as the character who constantly dreamed of getting married and having children – before, of course, adopting a daughter from China. Kristin Davis, like her role as Charlotte on the hit TV series, also chose to grow her family through adoption. Davis is a single mother to five-year-old daughter, Gemma Rose, who was adopted in 2011 through a domestic adoption agency, and is also a spokesperson for interracial adoption. On her own adoption story, the actress says:

“Adoption is a huge leap of faith for everyone involved. It has been a profound experience for me.”

  1. Sandra Bullock (Adoptive Mother)

You may know this Oscar-winning actress as “Miss Congeniality,” or Leigh Anne Tuohy on The Blind Side, but behind-the-screens, she is simply known as “mom.” Sandra Bullock is the mother of two children, Louis and Laila, who she adopted from foster care in Louisiana. Word has it that she is in the process of adopting a third child, who she will welcome home before the holidays this year. “My family is blended and diverse, nutty, and loving and understanding,” she said in a 2015 PEOPLE interview. “That’s a family.”

  1. Nicole Kidman (Adoptive Mother)

Nicole Kidman is well-known for many roles, but her most recent work really struck a chord with us (and with her) – In early 2017, we watched Kidman star as the adoptive mother of Saroo Brierly in the heart-wrenching film, LION (which Adoptions With Love covered here!). The actress confesses that she was drawn to this role specifically because she is an adoptive mother – she adopted two children, Isabella and Connor, in the early 90’s with ex-husband Tom Cruise. LION, she says, is a “love letter” to them.

On adoption and being a mother, she says, “It’s not about anything else other than ‘I wanted you.’ It’s that deep and personal, and whatever your journey is, I’m here to love and support you.”

  1. Madonna (Adoptive Mother)

This pop-star is also the mama of six children, four of whom were adopted from Malawi, Africa – 11-year-olds David Banda and Mercy James and four-year-old twins Esther and Stella. Madonna has a continued relationship with her children’s native country. In 2006, the singer founded Raising Malawi, a charity that supports orphans in Malawi through health, educational, and community support.

  1. Katherine Heigl (Adoptive Mother)

Image result for katherine heigl childrenEven before she became an award-winning actress, Katherine Heigl knew that she wanted to adopt children. When Katherine was just three-years-old, her mother adopted her sister Meg from Korea. Katherine Heigl explains that she wanted a family that resembled the family in which she was raised, and adopted her daughter Naleigh from Korea in 2009. A few years after, Heigl and her husband adopted newborn Adalaide from Louisiana. In December 2016, the couple welcomed biological son, Josh, into the world, and may even continue to grow their family down the road. “I’d get pregnant again, and I still am very inspired by adoption,” Heigl shares. “I also have been thinking a lot about fostering.”

In an interview with Parent & Child Magazine, Heigl shared, “Anyone who doesn’t have experience with adoption wonders, does love for a child come through DNA? I knew it didn’t. My mother had biological children and an adopted child and said it made absolutely no difference. They’re yours.”

  1. Faith Hill (Adopted Person)

Faith Hill is one of the most successful country artists of all time, and is also an advocate for adoption. This is largely due to the success of her own. Faith Hill was adopted in 1967 by Ted and Edna Perry. The Perry’s had two biological sons and long wished for a daughter, but were told they could not have any more children biologically. “I was adopted into this incredible home, a loving, positive environment,” Hill boasts. But growing up, she also felt a void. “I had this yearning, this kind of darkness that was also inside me.” Hill desired to find her birth parents. Hill met her biological mother and brother in her 20s, and was fulfilled in finally finding someone that looked like her. She says of her birth mother’s choice:

“I have a lot of respect for my birth mother and no feeling of anger or any of that. I know she must have had a lot of love for me to want to give me what she felt was a better chance.”

  1. Snooki (Adopted Person)

Despite her “Guido” style and love for Italian culture, many fans might be shocked to know that Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is actually of Chilean heritage. The Jersey Shore star was adopted from Santiago, Chile at six-months-old. She was raised in both New York and New Jersey by Italian-American parents, Helen and Andy Polizzi. In a recent interview, Snooki revealed that she has researched her birth family, but has no interest in meeting them currently. She considers her adoptive family her “real” parents and that it may be too touchy a subject for her children at this time.

  1. Kristin Chenoweth (Adopted Person)

Famed Broadway actress Kristen Chenoweth has always known she was adopted, and is very open about sharing her adoption story – as well as her remarkably positive perspective of adoption – with others. While the star recognizes that adoption is not always easy, she encourages the world to see adoption as a “full-circle blessing.” She explains in her National Adoption Day blog post:

“First of all, it’s a blessing (and a huge sacrifice) for a birth parent to make the decision to give his/her baby a better life. Sometimes people can’t take care of that baby just yet… But what a gift they are giving to both that child and the family who wants to adopt.

Next, if you’re thinking about adopting a child, remember that it’s a gift you’re getting and it comes with just as much responsibility as if you had your child biologically. On top of that, it’s a beautiful blessing that you were chosen to take care of this child and become his or her parent.

And then lastly, as an adopted child, I encourage other adoptees to remember what blessed lives we have. We weren’t abandoned; we were chosen. We were given a chance. I’m not saying it’s not hard or that it’s easy for people to understand. But it really isn’t for the world to understand; it’s for the people who are involved.”

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  1. Joni Mitchell (Birth Mother)

Joni Mitchell was not always a Grammy-winning folksinger with platinum albums. At age 20, when she was still struggling to make it into the music scene, Joni found herself penniless and pregnant. She was not married at the time and was afraid to tell her parents about the baby. The biological father was not in the picture and, unable to provide for the baby on her own, Joni Mitchell chose to make an adoption plan. “I kept trying to find some kind of circumstance where I could stay with her,” she told the Los Angeles Times, but ultimately made a choice in the best interest of her daughter. Joni Mitchell and her biological daughter, now 52 years old, reunited in 1997 and have a continued relationship.

  1. Kate Mulgrew (Birth Mother)

You may know Kate Mulgrew as “Red” on the very popular TV series, Orange is the New Black, but did you know that she is also a birth mother who chose adoption? Mulgrew was a working actress in 1977 when she found herself faced with an unplanned pregnancy. She explains, “I was single, alone and flooded with terror. But I knew I would have that baby.” The biological father suggested abortion, but that was not an option for Mulgrew, who felt that adoption was the only choice she could make. It was best for her baby.

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Adoption touches all types of families, even those with big Hollywood names. Among these ten brave, compassionate, and selfless women, we also recognize celebrities like Hoda Kotb, Sheryl Crow, Jenna Ushkowitz, Roseanne Barr, Angelina Jolie, Jamie Lee Curtis, and the millions of other women affected by adoption. Do you know of any other famous women touched by adoption? Share their stories here!

If you would like to grow your family through adoption, please visit If you are pregnant and would like to learn more about this choice, please do not hesitate to reach out by calling Adoptions With Love toll-free at 800-722-7731.

National Adoption Day: Essex Probate Court November 17, 2017

November was National Adoption Month.  On November 17th we were pleased and honored to participate in the first ever National Adoption Day Celebration at the Essex County Probate Court.  We finalized 5 adoptions that day.

In addition to finalizing many adoptions, we celebrated adoption and the families formed by adoption.

Adoption is the legal process of creating a family.  In our society, the word family has taken on many different meanings.

It was a very exciting day for all the families.  Several families brought extended family members and others brought themselves and their child.

Ben and Julia, whose adoption of Isabella was finalized that day, invited her biological mother Stacey and her two children, Cassie & Charlie, along with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends.  This was a first for AWL and the Judge that the biological family was present at the finalization.  I was quite taken that after the formal ceremony, Isabella’s grandparents all hugged Stacey and thanked her.  Their love and gratitude was sincere. They are a snap shot into an open adoption; with adoptive parents, biological family and extended family all brought together through Isabella… they create a new family by adoption.

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I want to share a story with you of a family created through adoption 30 years ago.

Peggy was an 18 year old high school graduate, heading to college, when she discovered she was pregnant.  Peggy went to her parents and the father of her baby.  Together they decided they the best option was to make an adoption plan for her expected baby.  Peggy found AWL and with the assistance of AWL, she found the perfect family for her baby, Ginger, Dan and their young son Adam.  One of the reasons Peggy selected Ginger and Dan is that she wanted her little girl to have a sibling.  Peggy’s siblings and her extended family have always been an important part of her life.  Peggy met Ginger and Dan when Margo was placed with them.

Peggy made the decision not to have ongoing contact with Ginger, Ken and Margo until Margo was ready for some contact.  Peggy kept in contact with AWL, updating us with her new addresses and events in her life.  Peggy graduated from college, became a nurse, married and had a child.

Fast forward 16 years: with the support from her parents, Margo contacted AWL and said she was ready to meet her birth mother.  Ginger and Dan had shared all the information they were given when Margo was placed with them.  Margo met with me and it was clear that she was ready to meet Peggy.  I contacted Peggy and met with her and her husband, Tom.   She was 8 months pregnant with her third child and ready to move forward to meet Margo; the teenager who was the infant she placed for adoption 16 years ago.

In Margo’s words, these are some of the reasons she wanted to meet Peggy:

“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was adopted. For me growing up, it was always just a fact: that my birth mother made an adoption plan for me because she loved me, and that my adoptive parents are crazy about me. I am very much a part of my family. Friends who have known me for years comment on their disbelief that my brother Adam and I are not biologically related. We share so many mannerisms; so many inside jokes, and truly bring out the ten-year-old in each other…. As much as I felt loved and fulfilled in my adopted family, there was always what I described as a hole in my heart. Knowing that my birth mother Peggy placed me out of love, but not quite understanding what that meant, left me with a lot of curiosity…… I thought about her constantly and sometimes had fantasies that I had crossed paths with her when I saw someone whom I resembled on the street or in a magazine.”

There was a lot of fear, anxiety and excitement on everyone’s part for this reunion.  On February 14th, 2003, Margo and Peggy met for the second time.

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Shortly thereafter, Margo and her parents and brother met Peggy’s parents and then her extended Family.

Margo graduated from HS and chose to attend college in CA.  Whenever Margo returned to the east coast, she always would visit Peggy, Tom and her half-sisters.

A family has been formed out of love and respect for one another.

There have been some stressful times, when different parties felt anxious and nervous, maybe even a little threatened as these new relationships were forming.  Everyone was careful to maintain their boundaries; always keeping in mind, Margo’s best interests.

One of the most beautiful pieces of this story is when Margo graduated from college Peggy and her parents joined Ginger, Ken and Adam in CA and they all stayed at the same B&B.  They are an extended family formed by adoption.

I am blessed that Margo and Peggy have made me part of their process of creating a new family.

It is important to note that not all adoptions are open; each family figures out what works for them.  Many birth parents are not ready to have a relationship immediately after placement.  They need time to grieve and get their lives back together; they need to find a new normal.  Relationships ebb and flow over time.  What I have learned is that we all need to be flexible, listen to one another and have respect for each other.

We, at AWL, are always here to help navigate the adoption journey.

6 Tips for Ongoing, Open Adoption Conversations

If you read our latest guide, “The Keys to a Successful Open Adoption,” you may know that open adoption is a type of adoption involving an open relationship between a child’s birth parent(s) and adoptive family. It enables both families to keep in touch over the years, and is proven to be very beneficial for a child.

An open adoption relationship can involve any level of openness. In some cases, a birth mother will choose to receive letters and picture updates from the adoptive family. Some families will stay in touch through direct emails or phone conversations. Some open adoptions involve in-person visits. In any open adoption, it is important to ensure that there is healthy, respectful communication between everyone involved.

Whether you are making an open adoption plan for your baby, are considering open adoption for your family, or already have an open adoption relationship, you are in the right place. Adoptions With Love has provided six open adoption tips below, to help you facilitate and navigate healthy adoption conversations.

1. Use Positive Adoption Language

Like any adoption, open adoption is an emotional journey. It involves many delicate relationships. As an expectant, birth, or adoptive parent, it is important to choose your words wisely in adoption conversations. Show care, respect, and empathy in all that you say:

  • Say “make an adoption plan” instead of “give up for adoption”
  • Do not say a child “is adopted;” if necessary, say he or she “was adopted” or “came into our family through adoption”
  • Do not refer to birth parents as “real parents”
  • Adoptive parents are just “parents”
  • A pregnancy is not always “unwanted,” that is why we should say “unplanned” or “unintended”

Positive adoption language is essential for healthy dialogue in an open adoption relationship. It shows respect and consideration for the other parties, and allows you to reflect adoption in a positive light. This will enable your child to see his or her adoption positively, as well.

2. Set and Respect Boundaries

In an open adoption relationship, it is also important to be clear about your wishes and needs from the very beginning. If you are an expectant/birth mother, you deserve to be completely comfortable with the level of communication in your adoption plan. For example, if you are not ready for in-person visits or direct phone conversations with your child’s family, it is okay to say so. Ask the parents to respect your needs and boundaries as you heal. If you are an adoptive parent, it is also okay to discuss limitations with your child’s birth family if they are made with the child’s best interest in mind. There should be a mutual respect for everyone’s needs, as well.

3. Understand Expectations

Much like with boundaries, it is also important to set and respect expectations for ongoing communication. When making an open adoption plan, the adoptive family, birth parents, and an adoption agency should all discuss what is expected of one another. For example, does a birth mother expect the family to send pictures on a regular basis? Does she expect to be told of any significant health-related issues with her child? Does the adoptive family expect the birth mother to inform them of a phone number or address change? Having clear expectations on both sides (and understanding those expectations) will help ensure that communication remains consistent as the years go on, and that no one is left hurt or disappointed. No one should make promises they are not able to keep.

4. Always Be Honest

Be honest about your needs, your wishes, and your expectations. Never at any point should you feel completely conflicted or overwhelmed in your open adoption relationship. You can avoid this by being honest. For example, if you are a birth parent and want more updates of your child, you should talk about this openly with your child’s family and an adoption agency professional. If you are an adoptive parent and feel your level of openness is preventing you from bonding with your baby, it is okay to voice this as well. Together with an adoption agency, you all can talk about adjusting the level of contact in your open adoption plan.

5. Be Flexible

All relationships require fluidity, but this is especially true in open adoption relationships. As an expectant mother, birth parent, or adoptive family, it is important to remember that things can change over the years. A birth mother may get married or have other children. An adoptive family may develop a busier schedule as their child grows, going to dance class, music lessons, sports games, summer camps, etc. Either family may request more (or less) contact in the open adoption. Communication in an adoption relationship can fluctuate as needs change. Most significantly, it can change as the child grows older  and begins to make decisions. He or she may request more or less contact with birth family members, and these wishes must also be respected.

6. Seek Professional Help if Needed

Many open adoption agencies offer post-adoption counseling and support. If you ever hit a bump in your open adoption, you can always reach out to a professional for help. Sometimes, an outside, unbiased, and professional perspective is best for resolving any open adoption challenges that arise.

Adoptions With Love is a private, non-profit adoption agency offering open, semi-open, and closed adoption plans. We offer free-of-cost counseling services to expectant/birth mothers considering adoption. We are also available any time of day, any day of week, to answer your call. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072 to learn more about open adoption. You may also download our free guide below for more open adoption tips.

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