As a birth mother, it can be scary to trust prospective adoptive parents that you barely know to hold up their end of the post-placement agreement. A birth mother may be meeting this couple through her adoption professional, and really doesn’t have a whole lot of time to get to know them. There is a timer on developing the relationship, and trust takes more time to build than a pregnancy length may allow. It is important that a birth mother trust her gut when it comes to prospective adoptive parents, and do what she can to build trust with them in the time that she has.
The key to developing trust between a birth mother and prospective adoptive parents is to make sure the foundation of their relationship is in place with trust at the top of the priority list. This can be done by opening up emotionally to the adoptive parents and vice versa. All parties must participate in the trust-building portion of their relationship. Three things that birth parents and prospective adoptive parents can do to build trust in their relationship are to communicate needs, set boundaries, and show respect.
Communicating needs is something that can be done with big requests and small requests. For example, a birth mother may need the prospective adoptive parents to discuss what their daily life looks like, which is no big deal. However, she may also need to understand that the adoptive parents are the right fit, and that is not always an easy request. If a birth mother feels she needs something, she should ask for it. The worst thing the prospective adoptive parents can respond with is to say no. Knowing that this relationship must be built expediently means that the needs of both parties must be communicated right from the start.
Setting healthy boundaries within relationships is not always easy. However, if they are established from the start and maintained from there, the relationship becomes much easier to navigate. Setting healthy boundaries may mean that are certain things a birth mother asks for, like emotional support, and certain things she doesn’t ask for, like consistent financial support. Having boundaries up builds trust because it means investing in a long-term relationship.
Respecting all parties in the adoption triad is crucial to developing a long-term relationship within it. Respect is required in all forms of relationships, and is a priority in adoption relationships. A birth mother needs respect, and so do the prospective adoptive parents. Respect can be shown by being honest, communicating needs, and keeping away from others’ boundaries. It’s easy to show respect to the adoptive family when you feel that respect for them. However, if as a birth mother, you find that showing respect to your prospective adoptive parents is a bit too challenging, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship for a good fit.
Trust Takes Time and Effort
Trust is created in relationships through hard work and effort from each party. Trusting adoptive parents to keep their end of the post-placement agreement means that they must trust you as well. With the foundation of trust in this relationship, you will find it easier to know that your agreement will be upheld. Of course, these actions must be consistent over time, and respect must continue for the duration of the relationship. It is very likely a birth mother will be able to trust adoptive parents to keep up with their end of the post-placement agreement.
Know Your State Laws
If you find that over the course of the relationship, the prospective adoptive parents are not holding up their end of the post-placement agreement, it may be time to re-evaluate how you are handling that relationship. Please know that every state has different laws when it comes to legal action backing a post-placement contact agreement. Make sure that you know the laws in your state before making an open adoption agreement. That way, you will know how to handle the situation if it ever arises.
Trust Your Gut
Remember to always listen to your gut. A birth mother who feels that she can’t trust the prospective adoptive parents to uphold their side of a post-placement agreement may want to seriously consider choosing a different adoptive family. For a birth mother who trusts her prospective adoptive family, there is much peace in moving forward. The goal in the adoption process is to not only find peace with your adoption decision, but to also find peace with the family you choose for your child to be raised in.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.