Now more than ever, open adoptions allow birth parents to play a role in the lives of their birth child. Once an agreement is established between the adoptive and birth families, the birth parent has the opportunity to build an enduring relationship that could last a lifetime. Here are eight ways in which you can build a strong, lasting relationship with your birth child after adoption.
1. Understanding Open Adoptions
The legal parameters of open adoptions are determined beforehand by both families with the assistance of an adoption counselor. The extent of contact involved in an open adoption runs on a continuum – from situations in which you write letters or send gifts, to instances where both families participate together in social and recreational situations with your birth child. Here is some additional information about open adoptions that you should understand as a birth parent:
- The relationship you have with your birth child in an open adoption is a fluid one that may change over time as the child grows and needs change.
- The open adoption allows you to be a part of your child’s life, but you’re not playing a role in raising the child. These rights belong to the adoptive parents.
- On average, contact between a birth child and birth parents tends to lessen by the child’s teen years.
- Those birth parents that continue connecting with their birth child in their teen years are more likely to have relationships that last throughout the child’s adult life.
- Start slowly. Building a relationship with your birth child includes establishing a trusting relationship with the birth family, and that takes time.
2. Knowing the Boundaries
Work with your adoption counselor and your child’s adoptive family to determine the acceptable amount of the contact between you and your birth child. Depending upon the agreement, you may be able to write, send gifts, or even have face-to-face visits with the child.
3. Sending Small Gifts
If your birth child is very young, sending small gifts such as toys or clothes is a way to participate in their growth stages – even from afar. Also, it gives your child’s adoptive family the opportunity to reciprocate by sending you pictures of your birth child wearing the baby clothes or playing with the toys. These photos will warm your heart, and as your birth child grows, you both will cherish these captured memories. Be sure to talk with the adoptive family to determine what acceptable gifts are. The last thing you want to do is overshadow the adoptive family’s gifts.
4. Sending Birthday and Holiday Cards
Even if your birth child is too young to read, show what’s in your heart by sending cards that your adoptive family can share with them when they’re are older. That way, your birth child will know that you were a part of their lives from the very beginning.
5. Writing Letters
Despite the opportunities to connect with virtually anyone on the planet, nothing beats the personal connection that you establish with your birth child through exchanging letters. As your birth child grows older, they’ll learn to express their personality and creativity, and will share that priceless part of themselves with you through letters and drawings.
6. Using Digital Communication
Depending upon your arrangement with the adoptive parents, you may be able to take advantage of electronic communication to connect with your birth child. Scheduled Skype sessions are a great long-distance way to communicate with your child face-to-face. And scheduled emails and phone calls can also keep you and your child in touch. Lastly, exchanging brief videos is a fun way to make lasting memories.
7. Spending Time with the Adoptive Parents
If both you and the adoptive family live in the same area, offer to meet the adoptive parents for coffee once a month or so. Sharing an informal, ongoing social situation allows both you and the adoptive parents to get to know each other as time passes which will help to build trust and a strong relationship.
8. Acknowledging Your Child’s Adoptive Family
If you visit your birth child at their adoptive home, it’s a very good idea to include your birth child’s siblings in your play visits. It can be as easy as including them in coloring sessions, watching movies together, or playing board games. These gestures will let everyone know that you recognize how important it is for your birth child to experience their adoptive parents’ children as their genuine brothers and sisters. Other ways to acknowledge your birth child’s adoptive family members include:
- Taking your birth child and their adoptive siblings to the zoo or the park. These are also great times to invite the adoptive parents.
- Sending cards that celebrate milestones in your adoptive family’s lives, such as birthdays, holidays or graduations.
- Keeping the adoptive parents and their kids on your holiday card or gift list. Gift giving symbolizes the desire to keep the relationship going, and your child’s adoptive family will have the chance to welcome you further into their lives.
By establishing a caring, consistent connection with your birth child within the context of a collaborative relationship with your child’s adoptive family, you’re more likely to become involved in your birth child’s long-term well being. You’ll become a part of your birth child’s life as it changes, you’ll establish trust and openness with your child’s adoptive family, and you’ll develop a strong relationship with your birth child that can last a lifetime.
If you’re just considering placing a child for adoption, we encourage you to learn more about the process and even visit with a caseworker. We’re here for you every single step of the way. You’re not alone.