As I prepare myself to travel and spend a few days with my son and his adoptive family, I am reflecting on how our relationship has grown and changed from the first conversation we had while I was pregnant. Our adoption is what some may consider “very” open: his mother and I text daily and send pictures, we talk on the phone when the chance presents itself, and comfortably have visits within their home. While we have healthy boundaries with each other, we don’t follow any sort of plan or schedule to our conversations because we want to talk/see each other and consider each other family. While our relationship may not work for all, I would love to give you some tips on how to have a great open adoption with your child’s adoptive parents.
Find a match in someone you would want to be friends with.
When choosing adoptive parents for my son, it was important to me to find people that I could carry on a conversation with, who I shared similar interests with, and who wouldn’t consider me a “burden” to share an open adoption with. I was lucky to find all that and more. There was no doubt to me that we were a match when we agreed upon important things like vaccines, but as I got to know them more as people, it was apparent to me that placing my son with them would create a special relationship for me as well. Don’t be afraid to find a hopeful adoptive couple you click with to set the stage for a relationship.
Suggest a plan that allows for the ebb and flow of life.
It is no secret that things and people change as time goes on, but especially in adoption, it is important to be open to going with the flow. For instance, when my son was born we lived in the same county as his adoptive family. When he was about six months old, they had an opportunity to move to a better region four hours away. In those first six months we were able to get together with little to no notice as it was just driving across town, so it took some adjusting on both of our parts to arrange for visits after their move. Thankfully, we make it work with a little planning and a lot of discussion.
Be respectful and honest, even when it is tough.
One thing I’ve always found myself proud of within our open adoption is the level of respect and honesty we show toward each other. Adoption is an emotional experience for all involved. It can be difficult to be vulnerable, especially toward the person who has either placed their child with you or who you placed your child with. Something to remember though is that we are all human. We make errors in judgment and learn from things as time goes on. But at the base of the relationship should be respect and truth; because without those, a relationship doesn’t have a stable foundation.
Remember who the relationship is for: the child.
Above all else, the child is the reason for the relationship, and it’s best for all involved to work toward a healthy relationship. Sometimes may be trying, and no one is perfect. But if everyone does their best to love each other with an open accepting heart, the child will be raised to do the same.
While I may still be considered “new” to adoption by some (my child is less than 3 years old), having a great open adoption has done wonders for my life and my healing post-placement. It has made me vocal in the adoption community because I feel empowered rather than diminished by grief. It may not always be easy, and I may still have a lot to learn, but having an open adoption with my child’s adoptive parents has been worthwhile and I am excited to see where the future leads us.