Adoption is an incredible way to grow a family. It is also the start of many wonderful, and often unexpected, relationships. When you hold your baby in your arms, you know that you will love him or her for the rest of your life. One of the more complex relationships in adoption, however, is that between the adoptive and birth parents. This relationship is not always as loving and understanding, at least at the very start. However, over time, it can become one of your most cherished relationships of all.
Whether you are just starting your adoption journey or have already adopted your child, you may be thinking about the relationship you will have with your child’s birth parent(s). Believe it or not, the birth parent-adoptive parent relationship is very important. For example, it will:
- Set the tone for your child’s view of his adoption story and birth parents
- Help you build an open, honest, and ongoing conversation with your child over the years
- Enable your child to develop a greater sense of belonging and identity
- Provide answers to common questions that adoptees have, such as “What do my birth parents look like?” and “Why did they make this choice?”
Just how do you foster positive connections with your child’s birth parents? Here, we will share some tips on how to build this important relationship in the best interest of your child.
Be Open to Openness
The first step toward forming a strong bond with your child’s birth parent is to be open to an open adoption. Today, about 95 percent of adoptions are open. Most children over the age of 5 have positive feelings about their open adoption.
What does open adoption and semi-open adoption mean?
Open adoption can mean something different to different families. With open adoption, there is some form of communication between birth mother/parents and adoptive family. This can involve hard copy letter and pictures or a single email update once a year, occasional phone calls a few times a year, or it can even involve in-person visits.
Most families today are open to some direct, ongoing contact with their child’s birth parents over the years. As an open adoption agency, prospective adoptive parents who use Adoptions With Love agree to at least a semi-open adoption.
A semi-open usually involves communication with the adoptive family through the agency. This might entail the exchange of letters and pictures without any in-person contact. The children involved in semi-open adoptions typically do not have any direct contact with their birth parents.
Open adoption is a positive choice for all involved in the adoption process. Birth mothers take comfort in knowing, when making their adoption plan, that they will not have to say “goodbye” forever after birth. You will have access to the person connected to your child by DNA. She can help answer any questions you may have along the way, such as family history details that your child wants to know, or relevant medical background that could help your child’s doctor with any potential treatment. Most importantly, your child will benefit from understanding that she was adopted out of love, and that her story is special. She will have a better sense of who she is and how she came to become a part of your loving family.
Set Healthy Boundaries
A very common misconception of open adoption is that it involves some sort of “co-parenting” situation. This is not the case. Once the adoption is finalized, you are officially your child’s parent. There is no “taking back” for a birth mother or co-parenting along the way. Your adoption agency can help you set clear boundaries when making your adoption plan. It is important to communicate what you are comfortable with and how you would like to do to keep in touch with your child’s birth parent. If your child’s birth mother would like to see your child annually, but you have concerns, speak with your adoption agency to see if there is some middle ground to make both parties happy. However, try to be as open and understanding of the birth mother’s wishes. She is making a difficult choice, and trusting in you to care, love, and provide for the child she cannot raise.
Show Gratitude and Share the Joy
As you navigate these uncharted waters with your child’s birth parents , it is important to keep perspective and remember what is most important. Your child’s birth mother has made it possible for you to become parents. She has given you a child to love, raise, and cherish. There are ways to show your respect and appreciation of her. It may be helpful to share a small gift after the birth. On Mother’s Day, consider sending her a card or having your child make a card when he is big enough to do so. As you discuss adoption with your child, sharing his birth mother’s story with positivity is a great way to honor her choice.
If your child’s birth mother is open to an open adoption plan, it may be helpful to share some of the joyful milestones with her, as well. Photos capturing those first steps, the first day of school, or the first trip skiing will help bring your child’s birth mother some joy. It can help reassure her that she made a great decision and that her child is enjoying a wonderful life with a multitude of opportunities. Giving her these little gifts will mean the world to her, and it will only help deepen your bond with someone who has given you the most precious gift of all.
Be Patient and Understanding
Many adoptive parents find it challenging to keep in contact with their child’s birth mother once the adoption is complete. Sometimes the birth mother pulls away, as she works through her emotions. Some birth mothers think they want a lot of contact, but soon find it difficult to see photos of the baby. There is, oftentimes, a sense of loss and mourning that a birth mother experiences. Do not try to push your way through. Birth mothers who use an adoption agency, like Adoptions With Love, have adequate support through counseling. If you are patient and allow some space, as needed, your birth mother may soon come around.
If you would like even more tips on adoption and establishing an open adoption that works, reach out to Adoptions With Love any time, day or night. We are here to help guide you through this wonderful journey. Call us at 1-800-722-7731, text 617-777-0072, or contact us at https://adoptionswithlove.org/contact-us.