As a birth parent in an open adoption, you want to be part of your birth child’s life in some way. This is actually made possible by establishing and maintaining trust and communication with the adoptive family over time. Here are some suggestions on how to build a great relationship with your birth child’s adoptive family:
1. Understand Their Rights
Know that the adoptive family is taking over the daily decisions and responsibilities of raising the child as their own. You’ll want to start off communicating openly and honestly with them, acknowledging their role as parents.
2. Proceed Slowly and Recognize Boundaries
Start out by getting to know the adoptive parents. However, be sure that the communication takes place on the agreed upon terms by the means of contact you’ve all decided upon. For example, it’s best to avoid unexpected text messages, or communicating through social media, until you understand the boundaries that have been set.
3. Expect Changes in the Relationship Over Time
In fact, Lee Helland’s article in Parents Magazine cites a report asserting that 36% of all adopted children have some sort of communication with their birth families. Adoptive families and birth families tend make contact about seven times per year during the first few years. That contact typically gradually decreases over time, with only 40% of adoptive families keeping in contact with the birth family after 14 years. However, for those adoptive families that do keep in touch, Helland writes, the frequency of communication tends to increase over time, and the relationship deepens.
4. Show Interest in the Lives of the Adoptive Parents
Whether you have coffee with the adoptive parents now and then, or if you communicate by letter or online, ask about their lives, interests, and well being. Be ready to share those aspects of your life with them if they ask, so they can learn a little bit about you as a person.
The more you attempt to really get to know the adoptive family and share your life with them, the deeper your relationship will become. It’s a fundamental piece to building a great relationship.
5. Include the Siblings
When you do communicate with the family, be sure to also show interest in your birth child’s siblings. If you have playdates with your birth child, for instance, make an effort to include the siblings in your playtime when feasible.
If you just have contact with the adoptive parents, on the other hand, ask about what the child’s adoptive siblings are up to, and be eager to learn about their accomplishments.
Finally, if you are sending birthday and Christmas cards to your birth child through the adoptive parents, find out if and when it is appropriate to do the same thing for your birth child’s adoptive siblings.
6. Keep Your Family’s Medical History Transparent
One of the most important ways to earn your adoptive family’s trust and appreciation is to be open about providing information about your own family’s medical history. The adoptive parents are also likely to ask about the birth father – and any other information that helps them take the very best of care of your birth child. By being transparent with this information, you’ll demonstrate your consideration and concern, which can lead to a deeper relationship between both families.
The best way to a build a great relationship with the adoptive family early on is to proceed slowly and communicating openly with the adoptive family. This means going with the flow and acknowledging the boundaries of communication that have been established. At the same time, get to know the entire family, give them opportunities to share aspects of their lives with you, and be sensitive to the family’s need or desire for changes in the frequency and depth of communication over time. As a result, a mutual trust and respect will develop between both families, paving the way for an ongoing, healthy relationship with your birth child.