An open adoption describes a type of relationship between adoptive parents and birthparents of a child. The involvement of birthparents can involve any level of openness, be it just be one or two visits per year, e-mail and photo sharing, or even celebrating birthdays and holidays together. In any case, the most important thing in ensuring a successful relationship is healthy communication.
If openness in an adoption is approached with care, it can be an amazing gift to everyone involved. Whether you are hoping to adopt a baby or you have already adopted, here are some tips to help facilitate healthy communication in an open adoption.
1. Work on your own issues first.
An open adoption means a promise of openness before you may truly feel comfortable with everything that openness brings. You should consider the level of communication you want with your baby’s birthparents and set some boundaries for both sides. Taking time to be introspective can be tough, but it is important to work through your issues and the things you are afraid that may occur in an open adoption. Talk to your partner about your thoughts and concerns when it comes to communication with birthparents and together you can find solution that will work best for you.
2. Choose your words.
An open adoption is a highly emotional journey, and many bumps can occur along the way. Many things can hurt, including poorly chosen words, so choose what you say with care and always show respect.
3. Acknowledge your feelings.
Both birthparents and adoptive parents struggle with the emotions brought on by adoption. It is good to admit your feelings and encourage your birthmother to be open with her feelings as well. As you are honest and fair to each other, you can all work out through anything together.
4. Ask, don’t assume.
If something is unclear or you are unsure about anything, just ask. In some cases, the disagreements occur when one side thinks another side is stepping outside the boundaries of the arrangement. To avoid this, make sure to ask for possible reasons and explanations rather than just assuming something.
5. Set boundaries.
Communication with others is a large part of our lives, and every person approaches it differently. Set some healthy boundaries when it comes to communication in an open adoption. If you are not comfortable with in-person visits or another particular method of communication, you should say so and ask your birthparents to respect your boundaries, just as you should respect theirs.
6. Seek help if needed.
Many adoption agencies offer post-adoption support. If you feel like any issues you’re experiencing are too hard to resolve by yourself, talk to someone there. Sometimes, getting the perspective of an outside party can help you to see the other point of view.
7. Be honest.
Be honest about your expectations and be willing to listen to a request without being demanding and defensive. Sometimes, for example, birthparents will want more and more updates as time passes, or they will ask to visit more often, and you should talk about that honestly and look for the best solution together.
An open adoption brings advantages as well as some challenges. It is important for both parties to do their part and respect the arrangement since that can be the most beneficial for your child. An open adoption works best when both parties are willing to maintain open and healthy communication.