When you enter into an open adoption relationship, you trust that the adoptive parents will keep their word when it comes to your future contact. And, in most adoptions, they do. But, there may be times during your post-adoption journey where your child’s adoptive parents don’t quite check in as often as they used to.
Before you panic, it’s important to take a deep breath. One missed letter or phone call doesn’t mean your child’s parents have cut off contact forever. However, we understand the concern you may have, which is why we’ve provided some suggestions for moving forward if this exact situation happens to you.
Step 1: Be Patient and Understanding.
Of course open adoption contact is important to you. So, when you miss a letter or phone call that you’ve been hoping for, you can easily overanalyze it. However, try not to overreact and upset yourself. Odds are, it’s just a one-time thing. Just like you, adoptive parents have a lot going on in their lives. They may be overwhelmed with work or a family illness, and they may simply have forgotten to tell you. In other cases, perhaps their address has changed and the adoption agency doesn’t know, so the mail you sent to them was never received.
Before you convince yourself that your open adoption is over, be patient and give the adoptive parents a chance. In most cases, they’ll contact you as soon as they can with an explanation and an apology.
Step 2: Express Your Feelings to the Adoptive Parents.
If you are feeling forgotten by your child’s adoptive parents, one of the best things you can do is to let them know how you feel. Consider writing a letter or email expressing your emotions at your missed contact. Tell them how much your open adoption contact means to you and how much you appreciate seeing updates of your child and how happy they are growing up with their adoptive parents. Try to refrain from accusing them of neglect or ill intentions; be understanding about whatever they may have going on in their life and gently remind them of the commitment they made when you started your adoption journey together.
Remember that all relationships naturally change over time, and open adoption relationships are no different. All parties must be open with their feelings to have a satisfying and successful relationship. Therefore, it’s important that you express yourself fully to feel secure in this relationship with your child’s adoptive parents (and, by extension, your child).
Step 3: Contact Your Adoption Professional.
Confronting adoptive parents about contact frequency can be difficult. Fortunately, your adoption professional should be able to help.
If you placed your child for adoption through an agency, you should consider reaching out to your specialist. They may be able to check their records and see if contact information has changed or other extenuating circumstances have kept the adoptive parents busy. They might also contact the adoptive parents on your behalf to start communication again. Whatever the reason for the break in contact, your specialist should be there to help you get the answers you deserve and counsel you through the difficult emotions you may have.
If your child was adopted through foster care, reach out to your personal caseworker or your local Department of Human Services. They may be able to connect you to the resources you need to get back in touch with your child’s adoptive parents.
Step 4: If You Have a Legally Binding Agreement, Contact Your Attorney.
If you placed your child for adoption with an agency, your attorney may have helped you complete a post-adoption contact agreement (PACA). This legal document details exactly what kind of and how much contact will be shared between an adoptive family and the birth mother moving forward. And, in certain states, this contact agreement is legally enforceable.
If you signed a PACA, consider reaching out to your attorney about its enforceability. While your adoption will never be overturned or invalidated because of adoptive parents breaking contact, there may be legal steps for enforcing future contact. If no other steps have led to contact changes, this may be the only course of action for moving forward.
Please remember: This article is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.
We know that changes in open adoption contact can be hard, but try to keep hope. Remember that everyone has tough periods in their lives. It’s highly likely that any reductions in your post-placement communication are just a result of issues outside of the adoptive parents’ control. Be strong enough to make your feelings heard, and you’ll likely be back to normal contact in no time!