Having an open adoption doesn’t just mean having a relationship with your child. It also means having a relationship with their adoptive parents. And building a bond with them can be an awesome experience!
Here are four tips to help get you started on the path towards a strong, positive relationship with your child’s adoptive family:
1. Get to Know Them
Getting to know your child’s adoptive parents is essential, both before and after placement. Ask them questions about their jobs, church, their last family vacation, and traditions they like to keep. You can chat with them as you would to a friend.
“When I visit my son, I always update his adoptive parents on my life – dating, school, work, and stuff like that,” says one birth mother, Shawna. By showing an interest in each other and not focusing solely on your birth child, you’ll all feel more comfortable. You might even come to find that the adoptive couple becomes some of your best friends.
2. Honor Boundaries
By signing adoption paperwork, you agreed to give your parental rights to the adoptive parents. It’s important to respect that they’re the parents, and you’re the birth mom. Those two roles are equally important but very different. By honoring their boundaries and parental decisions, the adoptive parents will feel respected and secure in their role. In turn, their security will make them feel more comfortable with you.
3. Notice Your Child’s Siblings
If your child has brothers and sisters, you’re important in their lives too. “My daughter’s brother is one of my favorite kids. We all play together, and he knows that I love him and his sister,” says Jessica, a birth mother. If you bring your child a gift during a visit, consider getting gifts for their siblings too. They need to know they are important to you as well.
4. Don’t Stress
Adoptive parents are only humans and can make mistakes and act awkwardly. Chances are, they’re probably feeling all the things you are feeling. So don’t feel intimidated at the beginning of your relationship; it’s OK if it’s uncomfortable for a bit. It might help to think of them as extended family. If you patiently and regularly put effort into your relationship with your child’s adoptive family, you’ll be rewarded.
At the end of the day, any relationship takes work. Also, every open adoption relationship is different, so find out what works for you. Your relationship will naturally change over time. By putting the child first and remembering that adoption is about love, you can have an incredible open adoption relationship!
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.