The vast majority of domestic infant adoptions in the US are “open.” The degree of openness varies greatly depending on what both the birth family and adoptive family want. The openness can range from in-person meetings regularly to once a year sharing of pictures and letters via the adoption agency or attorney.
Open adoption can feel strange because we do not have experience with navigating these types of relationships. Additionally, we seldom can turn to family and friends to learn from their experiences.
It is essential to keep in mind that you are creating openness in your adoption because research has shown us that it is best for our children. With that in mind, here are a few tips for making an open adoption work well for everyone.
5 Tips for a Healthy Open Adoption Relationship
- Keep your child as the focus of the process. You are doing this for your child. You are willing to try to navigate the best relationship possible with her birth family because it is in your child’s best interest.
- Seek education, training or counseling on open adoption. Most adoptive parents are afraid of open adoption at the beginning because they imagine it is the same as co-parenting and/or they feel threatened by the birth parent’s presence in their lives. Education helps calm this fear. (Hint: Creating a Family has seven online education courses on open adoption to help.)
- Talk honestly at the beginning about what level of openness works for you and ask the birth parents what they want. Make suggestions for different levels of openness to see what feels right. Ask your adoption agency or attorney to facilitate these conversations and share what has worked for other families.
- Aim to build a relationship with the birth parents based on trust and respect. Avoid being judgmental of their lifestyle and choices.
- Seek support for negotiating conflicts or developing empathy if you are struggling. Your adoption agency or attorney should be able to help. Most online adoption support groups can also be a support for you, such as the one at Creating a Family.
Open adoptions can be challenging and rewarding. Like any relationship that is worthwhile, you need to invest time and energy in creating a healthy partnership.
Other Creating A Family Resources You Might Enjoy:
- Talking with Young Children About Adoption and Birth Parents
- Tips for Navigating Open Adoption With “Unsafe” Birth Family
- Essential Conversations Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents MUST Have for a Successful Open Adoption
Image credit: Aina Vidal