Have you ever wondered what helps make an open adoption successful? The truth is, open adoption looks different for each situation and can change over time. So it might seem like open adoption would be complicated. However, open adoption can be beautiful and healthy when handled with care and respect.
A successful open adoption depends on two things: communication and honesty. If both the adoptive parents and birth parents follow these two rules, they’ll have laid the foundation for success.
The best possible open adoptions occur when both sets of parents respect each other, act within their post adoption contact agreement, and maintain open and healthy communication. By doing so, everyone will have a plan of how to overcome challenges and difficult times together.
These six tips can make an open adoption experience more successful.
1. Plan and Prepare
Make sure to set up expectations for future communication before the child is born. An open adoption works the best if, before the child’s birth, plans are made for how the adoptive family and birth family will communicate after the adoption. Can the birth mother initiate a phone call? Should she text or email? Can they do a FaceTime meeting? Setting these expectations reduces communication chaos that can occur after the baby is born.
Share what you hope your open adoption will look like, and be honest with both yourself and all the parties involved. Take the time to envision what open adoption will look like for you. Look at the long-term view, and discuss what you hope the next 18 years will look like. Being honest will allow you to get out your “non-negotiables” and initial hopes for the relationship. You may find that the other set of parents has a different vision and hope for that relationship. Talking about these differences early on will significantly improve your open adoption relationship.
2. Set Healthy Boundaries
This ensures that the best interests of the child are kept in mind and that there is mutual respect between the birth parents and adoptive parents. An important boundary to keep in mind is parenting philosophies.
Open adoption isn’t co-parenting; the adoptive parents are responsible for caring for their child by setting boundaries they think are best for the child. The adoptive parents are the child’s legal parents, and so they’re responsible for his or her well-being and upbringing. They’re the ones who will be there in the good times and bad. For every big and small moment of the child’s life.
3. Seek Support From Your Adoption Professional
Many adoption agencies provide both pre-and post-adoption support. So, if you hit a roadblock in your open adoption, make sure to reach out to your agency. Open adoption can work well when adoption agencies offer these services for birth parents and adoptive parents. Lifetime Adoption has been helping adoptive parents and birth parents navigate open adoptions since 1986, building a bond that benefits everyone, especially the child.
Make keeping open lines of communication a priority. A healthy relationship between the adoptive parents and the birth parents has numerous benefits. It helps adoptive parents have a more positive attitude about their child’s birth parents and gives birth parents the comfort of knowing their child is thriving.
As an adoptive parent, avoid making promises you won’t be able to keep. While it may seem best to let the birth parents lead the way in the months before your baby’s birth, it will be more challenging in the long run if you don’t communicate your hopes.
As a birth parent, it may feel like you are asking too much of the adoptive parents. If either set of parents has something to say, the best time to say it is at the beginning of your match. This can help you avoid miscommunication in the future. Also, it allows you to start your relationship on the same page, with knowledge of their open adoption expectations.
5. Stay Flexible
The birth parents or adoptive parents may need to scale back or expand the level of openness. This is something that can be written into the agreement within reason. Don’t level things either, but give some allowance for growth for both sides.
Adoptions can change; relationships come and go, circumstances are flux, and people move. Circumstances are flux. Relationships come and go. To handle these changes with care, establish a base of open communication and complete honesty. In the beginning of an adoption, many want to “play nice” and make sure that no one is hurt. While this is common, it is important to remain honest, open, and willing to compromise for the child’s sake.
6. Focus on the Child
Open adoptions are most successful when the birth parents and adoptive families seek to do everything for the good of the child. This must be the underlying reason that guides every decision during the adoption process. If all can place the child’s needs at the very front of every decision, their families and relationships will be much stronger.
By following these six tips, you can set yourself up for a successful open adoption. If you approach an open adoption with respect for each other and love for the adoptee, you’ll be well on your way to your very own adoption success story!
Heidi Keefer is a Content Creator for Lifetime Adoption and has 15 years of experience in the field of adoption. An author of thousands of blog posts over the years, Heidi enjoys finding new ways to educate and captivate Lifetime’s ever-growing list of subscribers.
Heidi has a keen eye for misplaced apostrophes, comma splices, and well-turned sentences, which she has put to good use as a contributor to Lifetime’s award-winning blogs. She has written and published hundreds of adoption articles which explore the various facets of domestic infant adoption today.