An open adoption may seem intimidating at first. That’s not surprising, as it requires you to create a relationship not only with your new child, but also their birth mother, and sometimes other family members as well.
So you may have questions on how one creates a healthy open adoption relationship. You may be wondering what life looks like when you are in an open adoption relationship. In this article, we will summarize and highlight the experience of an open adoption relationship to help you understand what to expect and thus prepare for.
Access to important information
An open adoption relationship comes with many benefits for both the birth parents and adoptive parents. For example, the birth parents can get a peace of mind and sense of security with the knowledge that their child is being treated well by the adoptive parents.
On the other end, the adoptive parents have access to important information such as medical history. Even further, an open adoption relationship can give the adopted child a connection to their biological family and roots that they may want to know about.
Communicate clearly and consistently
Open communication goes hand in hand with an open adoptive relationship. This honest communication will lead to healthier relationships. Clear and consistent contact establishes a sense of trust between all members in the family unit and a set of expectations from both the birth mother and the adoptive parents to create a stable life for the child.
Additionally, the freedom to discuss feelings and needs is healthy for both the adopted child and their families, contributing to higher self confidence, sense of security and confidence, and more inclusivity in family unit functioning.
It is an evolving relationship that will change over time
You may start out as almost strangers with your matched birth mother, however could end up in a loving, positive familial relationship after years of this open relationship. As you continue to stay in contact over time, the relationship will grow stronger as you both support each other through life and your adopted child’s life.
Also, your adopted child’s relationship with their birth mother will evolve. It may start out as a fun aunt like figure or older sister and then shift as the child begins to understand the complicated family dynamics of an open adoption relationship.
Let your child lead once they are older
This point follows from the fact that the open adoption relationship will inevitably change over time. Prioritizing your adopted child and giving them the autonomy to choose and lead their own personal relationships is crucial to healthy family functioning. Sometimes an adopted child may want to ask questions that an adoptive family may not be able to answer or may seek out this additional “older sister” figure to say, gossip about teenage news or for opinions on clothes. It is important to treat the birth mother as an integral part of the family unit, one that is not replacing a mother, but instead acting as an additional source of support, love, and care for your child.