What if There Are Two Types of Adoption in One Family?

by | May 22, 2024 | Adoptive Families Blog

Mother and her children relaxing in a grassy fieldOpen adoption arrangements vary from situation to situation. They can range from sharing little information to having a lot of future contact and involvement. As you embark on this path, it’s important to recognize that each adoption is unique, especially for open adoptions.
Some couples who adopt a baby decide to adopt again a few years later to provide their first adopted child with a sibling. In these cases, it’s possible their open adoption arrangement with each birth family may look very different and result in two types of adoption.
With an open adoption of a second child, you will arrange the post-adoption contact and visitation preferences with a new birth mom. That means you may possibly be managing this for two children with two different birth families. Of course, it also means that there are more people to love and cherish your children.
Adopting will cause your child to ask some questions about their own adoption story as they see that of their sibling play out. This is good, as it encourages an open conversation about the loving choice that is adoption today.

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How Will Two Types of Adoption Affect Our Children?

It’s natural to wonder about the impact of one open adoption relationship on the other child. Will they feel jealous? Will one child have a stronger bond than the other?
Recognizing that your children will have two different birth families and two types of adoption, do your best to create an environment that encourages open dialogue, acceptance, and understanding. Emphasize the significance of these relationships while celebrating the love and commitment you share as a family.
Acknowledge your child’s emotions of jealousy or rivalry. Provide them a safe space to express themselves and promote empathy and understanding.
Expecting the same level of involvement or connection from each birth mother is unrealistic and can create unnecessary stress. While it can be emotionally challenging at times, remember that people grow and evolve. Remain committed to continuing to work to maintain a healthy connection.
If one of your children’s birth mothers seems to avoid contact after the adoption, it may be that she doesn’t feel emotionally ready to receive updates just yet. We’ve heard from many birth mothers that they want to be in a healthier place to get the updates so they can be excited and happy about getting them instead of sad.
Try not to panic if one of your child’s birth mothers hasn’t been very responsive lately. It doesn’t mean that she’s trying to pull away from you. Give her the benefit of the doubt. She probably has a lot going on right now. She also may be feeling insecure about how she should interact with you. Remember that birth parents experience tremendous amounts of grief, guilt, and shame that can ebb and flow at times.

Get a Real-Life Glimpse at Two Types of Adoption

Lifetime adoptive mother Emily shares about her relationships with her sons’ birth mothers. Adoption relationships can be easily misunderstood until you see them through the lives of actual adoptive families and birth parents who came together for a child’s adoption. In Emily’s story, you’ll discover how open adoption allows for a flexible and respectful relationship between adoptive families and birth mothers!

two types of adoption families“We’ve adopted two of our three children, so we have the joy of two additional relationships: with their birth mothers! While our relationship with each woman is quite different, I am forever thankful to both of them.
The relationship that we have with the birth mothers of our two sons is very near and dear to my heart, as I sincerely love these women. Their sacrifice allowed me to grow my family! The Lord chose those two women to help grow our family, and as a result, we now have an extended family through our children.

Our relationship with the birth mother of our first adopted son, William, began upon meeting her a few days after his delivery. It was a simple first meeting that included the agency, and after speaking with her for a short while and praying for her, we promised to send updates and photos via the agency.”

An Evolving Relationship

Emily continues, “This promise mutually and quickly evolved into communicating directly through private e-mail accounts. As we both reached out, on average every few months, we were able to stay connected, share, learn so much, and build a joyful relationship! Her emails were never filled with regret or remorse over her adoption decision, just love and genuine interest in the one thing that we had in common—a precious little boy that was now a part of both of our families.

a birth mom and two types of adoptionEmailing eventually gave way to visiting in person and honestly, we were all quite nervous and emotional the first time. While we do not live near one another, we planned a visit while traveling and upon seeing and talking in person, it was such a memorable and exciting experience for all of us. Our family also met William’s half-siblings (twins, the same age as our oldest) during our first visit and it has continued to be a joy seeing all five of our children playing together!
We continue to communicate with William’s birth mom via e-mail on a regular basis, and try to visit in person approximately once a year. It is a joy sending photos to celebrate the milestones of William while in return reading about and seeing the life of his half-siblings. One of my favorite e-mails was when she told me “Happy Mother’s Day” and let us know that she was baptized and got married!”

Our Son Samuel’s Adoption

“It is in sending the happy e-mails and photos to William’s birth mom that we are saddened in not having a relationship with the birth mother of our youngest son, Samuel. He was adopted through a last-minute situation, and even his birth mother was unaware of her pregnancy; we received a phone call about him a few hours after he was born and without hesitation, immediately welcomed him into our family.

ryan-samuelOur sweet babe is close to 18 months now, and while we have attempted to reach out to his birth mother through the agency, the response has been minimal. We have sent her several photos and updates (just in case she does want them) to the agency, and in return, she did send her baby photo to share with Samuel. The photo is something we treasure; we can’t wait until Samuel is old enough to understand that photo is his birth mother’s baby picture—they look identical!
While we are saddened we haven’t been able to connect with Samuel’s birth mother and share milestones as we have done with William’s birth mother, we do not take her lack of interest personally. We understand and sincerely respect her ongoing decision to have space. Our agency recently heard from her, and she is very happy with the adoption placement. We regularly pray for her and despite whether or not the adoption remains closed, she will forever hold a close and special place in our lives.”

Encouraging Positive Relationships with Birth Parents

Sometimes, even when you have an ongoing relationship with the birth parents, one or both of them may take a step back and stop contact for a period. This is normal. It’s important to continue fulfilling your promise to send updates, even if you don’t receive any response. When birth parents step back, they are often doing so to allow themselves to grieve. This doesn’t mean they are no longer interested in hearing about their child; they may simply need some space. There’s no guidebook for adoptive parents on how to handle this situation, but sticking to your promises is crucial.
Adoptive parents often want to maintain contact with birth parents through email, texting, phone calls, etc., which is great for building a strong relationship. However, if not handled delicately in the first year, it can lead to resentment, distrust, and negative feelings on either or both sides of the adoption. The good news is that these issues can usually be prevented. As adoptive parents, it’s essential to adhere to the contact agreement with the birth parents and give them time to grieve without reacting negatively or overanalyzing their words.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 24, 2019, and has since been updated. 

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.

Read more about Heather Featherston

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