The key to a successful open adoption is the attitude of both sets of parents. Attitude is hard to capture in a top ten tip list; nonetheless, I still think it is helpful to try to distill a complex topic, such as open adoption, down to its essentials because sometimes in the heat of the moment all you can focus on is the essence. Top Ten Tip lists, by their very nature, are arbitrary. My top ten tips will likely not be your top ten tips, so please pay it forward by sharing your best tips in the comments.
- The first step is to define success in open adoption as creating a healthy relationship with your child’s birth parents that your child can build on throughout his life.
- Remember that open adoption is not co-parenting. Ultimately adoptive parents are responsible for creating the boundaries that are in their child’s best interest.
- Become comfortable in your own role in your child’s life as her parents. Insecurity leads to fear and rigid control. You are your child’s parent. Period. The fact that she has another set of parents does not diminish your role.
- Choose an adoption agency or adoption lawyer that offers both pre- and post-adoption support to both the adoptive parents and expectant/birth parents. See Creating a Family’s Three Step Guide to Choosing an Adoption Agency.
- Before the child is born, set up a specific pattern for communication for the first couple of months post adoption. You can always alter it later, but it helps to specifically discuss and write down what both sides want for the emotionally charged and confusing first few months. Who can initiate contact? How frequent? What is the preferred method of communication: telephone, text, visits, Skype, Facebook?
- Remember the feelings you had pre-birth when it felt like the expectant woman held all the power. It was a scary, uncomfortable place to be. After birth and adoption many birth parents report a similar feeling of powerless. Your goal is to create a healthy relationship for your child to inherit, and in healthy relationships no side feels powerless.
- While you have the responsibility as your child’s parent to set the boundaries and limits for what is best for your child, no decision to restrict the level of openness should be taken lightly. Ultimately you will have to explain this decision to your child, and you can be sure they will be hearing their first parent’s side as well.
- If you decide you need to scale back on the level of openness, don’t make it a permanent decision. Allow for the possibility of growth and change on both sides.
- Make liberal use of the Slightly Annoying Grandmother Rule when faced with “difficult” situations with your child’s first parents.
- Treat your relationship with your child’s birthmother and birthfather as a marriage, where you are both joined together by the shared love you have for your child. Try to find the “both/and” rather than the “either/or” solution when conflicts arise.
Top Resources for Open Adoption
- Get yourself a copy of Lori Holden’s fabulous book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption. As I said at the beginning, open adoption is mainly an attitude and Lori captured this attitude perfectly. This book is a joy to read!
- Creating a Family’s Top Ten Essential Topics Every Prospective Adoptive Parent and Birth Mother Should Discuss Prior to the Adoption
- Creating a Family Video on Open Adoption
Share your tips for a successful open adoption, please.