Open adoption gives you many choices, like choosing the adoptive parents for your baby. You can also decide how much you’d like to stay in touch with them after the adoption happens, and how you’d like to get updates on your child.
You are able to name what you anticipate your future relationships to look like. But we understand that it can be hard to decide about future contact now, before the adoption has happened.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself as you decide if open adoption is right for you:
1. How often would I like to see my child?
Some birth mothers decide they’d like to see their child in person once a year, and others choose to get updates through photos and emails only. It just depends on their relationship with the adoptive family. Once you choose an adoptive couple to match with, you’ll discuss future contact together.
Keep in mind that your level of contact might change in the future. Lifetime has worked with many birth mothers who thought they wanted to stay in touch afterward, but then once the adoption happened they felt differently. If this happens, Lifetime can help you leave your options open.
2. What types of contact would I be comfortable having after the adoption?
Every open adoption looks different, and contact can happen through emails, phone calls, picture updates, and in‐person visits. Studies have shown that sharing at least some type of open adoption is better for all involved than not having any contact. Keeping in contact allows your child to know you, develop a positive identity, and get questions about their origins answered.
If you’re interested in contact and you’re comfortable with what open adoption involves, you might decide that you’re ready for a relationship with the adoptive family. It’s important to note that you should only have as much contact as you’re comfortable with. No one should be pressuring you into sharing more than you had in mind.
You might be comfortable with just one type of contact, like emails and pictures, and keep the information that you share brief. That’s perfectly fine. It’s in your power to decide the type and amount of contact you choose to have.
3. How do I feel about exchanging gifts?
Some adoptive families and birth parents choose to exchange gifts during the holidays or milestones in the child’s life. These gifts could be anything from an age‐appropriate toy or a care package to a simple card.
The relationship you have with the adoptive family will decide the gifts that you give and receive. It’s good to speak with your Adoption Coordinator about gifts, too. Don’t feel like to have to share more information than you want to or promise something that you’re not comfortable with promising.
4. Will I need space after the adoption to find closure?
It’s totally normal to experience feelings of grief and loss after the adoption. Some birth mothers worry that seeing their child in person might prevent them from getting closure from their decision. Coming to accept your choice can be the hardest part of any adoption process.
Many women aren’t ready to get pictures and updates from the adoptive family right away. If you feel like you need more space after the adoption, just ask Lifetime to hold your photos and letters, and then send them when you’re ready. If this type of post-adoption contact feels like a fit, you can ask the adoptive family to send updates through Lifetime Adoption. As soon as you’re ready to see these updates, your Adoption Coordinator will send them to you.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you which type of open adoption you’d like to have. Lifetime’s adoptive families are ready for whichever type of open adoption you’re most comfortable with.
Get Peer Support
Since it can be challenging to decide about future contact before the adoption has happened, you might try talking with one of Lifetime’s peer counselors. Our peer support network are women who made the loving choice of adoption for their child.
A peer support counselor can share how her relationship with her child and the adoptive family works. More importantly, she can let you know what to expect post-adoption. Click here to connect with a peer counselor.
If you have any questions about post-adoption contact, you can ask your Adoption Coordinator or Peer Support Counselor for advice.
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.