Any long‐distance relationship is hard. But living on opposite ends of the country, away from your child’s birth parents or adoptive family, will be a challenge. If you’re getting ready to navigate an open adoption with a family who lives across the country, here are some ways that you can manage and keep your relationship strong.
1. Respect Boundaries
We all live busy lives, and it’s inevitable that phone calls will be missed and text messages will go unanswered from time to time. So, don’t expect to talk to one another 24/7.We know it’s hard, but remember that they need just as much space as you do. Try not to get carried away if they’re not able to answer every phone call you make or text message you send. While it’s important to stay in touch, it’s equally important for both parties to respect boundaries and be understanding when communication is missed. Depending on where you live, you should also keep in mind that their response times will depend on the time zone. Keep that in mind to help relieve some stress.
2. Keep Yourself Busy
Getting used to your long-distance relationship will be tough, but try to be patient. There will be moments when you end up understandably stressed when you don’t hear from the other person for some time. Use this as an opportunity to try out new hobbies or activities that have always been on your bucket list. Remember, you don’t want to wear yourself out by waiting for an answer. Try to focus on your own needs and keep yourself busy with other engagements.
3. Use Social Media
Thanks to the internet, you have the entire world at your fingertips with the press of a button. So don’t be afraid to use it! Using social media is one of the best ways to stay in touch with one another, regardless of the distance. Post your favorite photos to Facebook or Instagram to share a peak into one another’s lives. Of course, both parties should have a conversation about this step beforehand. You don’t want to accidentally send the wrong message for all of your other friends and family to see. Talk with each other ahead of time so that you know that’s appropriate to share on social media and what should stay private.
4. Send a Care Package
Staying connected through email and social media is great, but if you’re looking for a few tangible ways that you can show someone you’re thinking of them, consider mailing a thoughtful gift. Depending on what time of year it is, you can send each other gifts for birthdays or for the holidays. You can also send a thoughtful handwritten card any other day of the year. Again, as with social media, you’ll want to have a good idea of what you should and shouldn’t send beforehand. If you’re looking for some suggestions on what you should and shouldn’t send, don’t hesitate to contact your adoption professional. They can help you come up with some ideas, too.
5. Plan Activities Together
Just because you don’t live within driving distance doesn’t mean that you can’t still have fun together. There are many other ways that you can stay connected online that don’t involve social media. Set up a time to play a game online together or use another platform to watch your favorite movies or shows. Using this as an opportunity to share your favorite things can be a great way to bond.
6. Spend Time with Friends and Family
Although you might be anxious, try not to neglect your friends and family while you’re waiting on a response from your child’s birth or adoptive family. There are many people who care about you and want to spend time together. If you’re looking for ways to make a few more connections, you can use your free time as an opportunity to forge relationships with other birth parents or adoptive families. Consider joining an in‐person or online support group to meet other parents in your area. You can share what you’ve learned about long‐distance open adoptions to bond with someone else who is getting ready to step in your shoes.
7. Remember to Visit
Don’t let living apart be an excuse to not visit one another. When you can, use this as an opportunity to plan a long trip with your family! An open adoption visit can be a great way to connect and strengthen your relationship. If both sets of parents are comfortable with the idea, you can even plan more frequent get‐togethers throughout the year. As long as everyone involved can commit to a positive experience, this can be a great way to stay in touch.
Long‐distance relationships are a lesson in patience. None of them are easy to navigate all of the time, and it can be hard to stay positive, but there are some creative workarounds that you can come up with. If you’re having trouble managing your long‐distance open adoption, reach out to your adoption specialist for some more tips.