One of the questions we hear most often from birth parents is “How does open adoption actually work in the long run?” We get it – you’re placing your child with another family, and you’re wondering how “open” things remain as time goes by.
We always answer with stories about past birth parents we’ve worked with, and how they’re all so happy with their decision because the open adoption was truly a long lasting relationship with the adoptive parents. Years later, the relationship is actually stronger.
The relationship between and adoptive family and the birth parents is the same as any other personal relationship in your life – it’s built on mutual respect and trust. And just like any other personal relationship in your life, it grows deeper as time goes by.
If you’re considering placing your child, and you’re wondering how open adoption will work for you, we wanted to share these five simple tips that we share with all of our birth parents. These tips will help you build an amazing relationship with the adoptive parents for years to come:
1. Keep an open line of communication
It’s important to stay in contact with the adoptive parents. Lives get busy and things pop up, so if you’re planning a call, try to offer several times when you’ll be available so you don’t have to play phone tag. Don’t take it personally if something comes up, especially as your child gets older and more involved in activities. An open line of communication helps keep everyone on the same page.
2. Plan your visits in advance
Again, life gets busy pretty quickly, so advance planning for visits helps keep everyone on track. Talk to your child’s parents and decide how long the visit will be. Obviously, you want to spend as much time as possible, but you don’t want to wear anyone out. Choose the location, so you can plan for what you’ll be doing. Be there on time, and if something comes up, call ahead and let them know you’re going to be late. At the end of the visit, talk about the next time you’ll call or have a visit, so everyone’s on the same page.
3. Keep appropriate boundaries
Call yourself the name you’ve agreed on with the adoptive family, or your first name, so it’s clear to your child what your role is. Keep that line of communication open and let the adoptive parents know how the visit makes you feel – it’s perfectly OK if your feelings change over time. No one’s feelings will get hurt if you need to take a little break.
4. Respect the adoptive parents
Remember – the adoptive parents make the decisions on how to raise your child – not you. Regardless of what you think might be important, don’t try to offer your own opinions on how to raise your child or handle a situation. You trusted them enough to choose them to adopt your child, so trust that they’re making the right parenting decisions. It’s totally OK to ask how they’re doing and even offer help if it’s requested, but maintaining boundaries helps keep the relationship healthy for years to come.
5. Don’t forget about Lifetree
If something comes up that you’re not sure about, or you’re not sure how to navigate a difficult conversation, or you need to take a break to grieve for a while, don’t forget about Lifetree! Our relationship with birth parents isn’t over once the child is placed, we’re here for you whenever you need us, for as long as you need us! Call us any time, we’ll be here for you when you need us!