Open Adoption Relationships
New parents may worry that they will not know how to build a relationship with the birth mom once the baby is home. There is so much to do with a new baby, that the important connection between the birth mother and adoptive parents may be lost. There are just a few things to keep in mind when striving to keep open adoption relationships strong even when time and energy are strained.
An open adoption gives the birth mother and adoptive parents the ability to get to know one another before the birth of the child. The more time the adoptive parents can spend with the birth mom, the stronger that relationship will be once the baby is born. If the biological mother is amenable, adoptive parents may attend routine checkups and ultrasounds. In this way, adoptive parents can provide support for the birth mom which helps to build a relationship between the two families.
Prior to the adoption, a contact agreement should have been finalized. This agreement details the depth of post-adoption contact between birth mom and child. It should state the frequency of contact, including how soon after birth the biological mom can spend time with the child.
The Early Days of Adoption
In most instances, the biological mom will not want to see the child right away. She will go through the grieving process, which might include denial, sadness and even anger. Though she knows she has made the best possible decision for her child’s future, she will still feel sad about her own loss. This should be respected. Even if the birth mom had previously stated she would want to see the child soon after the adoption is completed, she may change her mind. To keep the relationship strong, the adoptive parents should not push the birth mom to have contact with the child if she feels she is not ready.
Keeping her feelings in mind, the adoptive parents may wish to email or send personal letters to the birth mom. They should state that the adoptive parents understand she may be going through a tough time. They should remind her that they care about her and hope the relationship can continue once she feels able. It is important that the adoptive parents be kind without patronizing her situation.
A good option during this time is to create a website or social media page that the birth mother can use when she feels ready. Providing updates and photos regularly may help her continue to feel close to you while maintaining the healthy distance she needs.
Relationships in the First Year
Many birth mothers, after the grieving process, request a great deal of contact during the first year. Adoptive parents should consider the pros and cons of frequent contact to decide what is best for all involved. Parents should not feel guilt for limiting the amount, length, or type of contact. They need that time to bond with their child. However, they should also recognize that an open adoption is healthy for their baby. If adoptive parents are too limiting in that first year, the birth mom may not feel welcome in subsequent years. This is why a firm contact agreement before adoption is incredibly important.