Building a Relationship with the Adoptive Family
In the past, adoptions were generally closed, meaning the adoptive family and birth parents would have little to no interaction before, during or after placement. Although closed adoptions still occur, these days, it’s much more common that birth parents and adoptive families decide to pursue either an open adoption or semi-open adoption.
With adoptions trending toward more openness, it’s common for birth parents and adoptive families to communicate frequently and have relationships during the pregnancy and throughout the child's life. Although the child is a common bond between the two sides, this does not necessarily mean a relationship will instantly be created. Like most relationships, it will take effort from all parties involved to form a lasting, meaningful connection.
It’s common for prospective birth parents to feel nervous about creating a bond with the adoptive family they have chosen for their baby. Although potential birth parents obtain information about the family during the adoption process through adoptive profiles prior to placement, there is still a level of unknown.
These concerns are natural, as many families share the same thoughts. With a little effort from all parties involved, we are almost certain an open adoption can not only help create a beneficial support system for the child, but also form a lifelong relationship between you and the adoptive family.
Continue reading to learn about the different ways to build a relationship with the adoptive family.
Communicating with the Adoptive Family: Pre-Placement
From the moment you decide that adoption is the best option for you and your baby, it needs to be made clear that you are in charge of the adoption process. This means that you are in control of the decisions being made and guiding your experience towards the outcomes you would prefer. Your adoption specialist will work with you to create an adoption plan, where you will discuss your options for the type of adoption you would prefer and plan many other important details for your adoption. This will help determine the amount of communication you hope to have with the adoptive family.
Based on your preferences, your adoption specialist will filter the adoptive family profiles that share similar interest. This will help narrow down the best adoptive family candidates for your baby.
Through email, phone calls, video conferences or even in-person meetings, you will begin pre-placement contact with the adoptive family. Communicating with the adoptive family is incredibly beneficial during the adoption process and can create the foundation for a lasting post-placement relationship. This communication helps you get to know the adoptive family, which can give you the peace of mind to ensure you are making the best decision for your baby.
Some tips for communicating with the adoptive family pre-placement are below:
- Start communicating early and often. This will show your willingness to have a relationship with the adoptive family.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and show interest in their lives.
- Keep in mind that not all conversations have to be focused on your baby.
- Talk to them like you would talk with a close friend. Discuss work, vacations, life events and more.
- Use birthdays, holidays or other scheduled events as an opportunity to reach out to the adoptive family.
- Provide updates about your pregnancy; send pictures of sonograms and growth details to help portray that you want them involved throughout the entire process.
Communicating with the Adoptive Family: Post-Placement
Much like pre-placement contact, post-placement communication is vital to the overall success of an open or semi-open adoption. This communication also goes a long way towards building a lasting bond between the birth parents and adoptive family. Given the increased emotions following placement, understanding that both sides involved may need their own space and respecting each other's boundaries can help begin the next step of moving into post-placement communication on a positive note.
The level of communication you prefer to have with the adoptive family is completely up to you and can occur in many different forms. Birth parents who choose a semi-open adoption may receive email or letter updates, as well as occasional photos of the child, cards and more. There are no specific requirements, but fully open adoption tends to be more involved and may include additional texts, calls, video chats or even planned in-person visits.
Although you can control the level of openness you would prefer, it’s important to remember that once your child is placed with the adoptive family, you have given them your parental rights. This means that you and the adoptive parents must all agree on the terms of your open adoption, types and frequency of contact, etc. — and ultimately, it will be up to the adoptive parents to decide what is in the best interest of the child. This is why pre-placement contact is so important; it will help you set the tone for your relationship, build trust with the adoptive family and make your wishes for post-placement contact clear. At the same time, respecting the agreement made prior to placement and not overstepping any boundaries helps the adoptive family grow more comfortable and trusting of you.
Fortunately, the vast majority of adoptive parents today understand the benefits of open adoption for all members of the adoption triad, and most are just as eager to have contact with you as you are with them!
Comfort, trust and communication all continue to strengthen the bond between you and the adoptive family as your baby grows older. Some tips for post-placement communication are below:
- Don’t stress. At the end of the day, the adoptive family is not much different than you. Treat them as you would when meeting any new friend or distant relative for the first time, as they too are experiencing the same, brand new learning process.
- Show flexibility and empathy. Life is constantly changing, and while sometimes you may want communication more frequently, understand that is not always a possibility and that be willing to adjust to different contact schedules over time.
- Keep the communication going two ways. Don’t only wait for them to update you; send them encouraging messages as they face some of the hurdles of adoption and parenthood. Remember some adoptive parents may be hesitant to reach out at times because they don’t want to bother you!
- Not all relationships or people involved will respond the same way. Figure out the best ways to communicate and continually work on improving them.
- Be willing to put in the work. Relationships can be difficult, and all of them require a certain extent of work. Trust the adoptive family is willing to put in the same amount of effort that you are.
Building a relationship with the adoptive family helps provide reassurance that you have made the best decision for your baby. A continued relationship with the adoptive family gives you the opportunity to watch your baby grow up in a safe and loving environment, all while being part of their support system. This is something many prospective birth mothers dream about when they first consider adoption for their baby, and something that many others who have chosen semi-open or open adoption are thankful for each and every day.
Learn More about Building an Open Adoption Relationship
As a prospective birth mother, when you decide to pursue an open adoption, you not only have the support system of the agency you work with, but also that of the adoptive family you choose. It is likely that you still have several questions or concerns when it comes to building a relationship with the adoptive family or about open adoption in general. An adoption specialist will be by your side from the beginning to the end to provide any guidance needed and to answer the questions you may have. You can also contact us anytime to speak with a professional about the options you have available.