Choosing an open adoption often means a plan has been worked out for you, the birth mom, to receive pictures and updates about your child. But relationships are a two-way street. How can you effectively grow a healthy relationship with your child’s family?
Here’s what you can do to get to know your child’s adoptive family:
1 – You may play an active role in your child’s life, But, it helps to keep a journal that you can share with the adoptive parents. This is something tangible they can pass on to your child at the appropriate time. Fill your pages with stories of your life, who you are, what you like, and anything you feel your child will benefit from knowing.
2 – Write letters to your child that acknowledge your child’s parents. Relationships grow where respect is present.
3 – Even if your child’s parents make decisions that you don’t agree with (i.e. discipline, education), back them up. Stand together as one solid team. This not only helps show consistency, but it also further shows respect. And it helps your child see you are a united front, working together, not against each other.
4 – Keep your word whenever possible. As with any relationship, when one person says they will do something or be somewhere and then they don’t, it hurts the relationship. In the same way, failing to keep your word with your child’s parents — or your child — can damage trust in the relationship. If something happens where you can’t follow through on a plan or a meeting, be open about it.
5 – Remember that your connection is meant to be a relationship-building experience. Even if you’re feeling regret or doubts about your decision, they might not be the ones to have this discussion with (depending on the relationship you already have). Sharing with the adoptive family could create unintended emotional barriers due to fear. They may scale back in an attempt to spare your feelings, which may perpetuate a cycle of pain for everyone.
6 – Take the time to get to know more about them — their special days, interests, etc — the same way you would with anyone you want to have a relationship with. Acknowledge their anniversaries, for example, and show them you are invested in their lives as much as your child’s.
7 – You’re on the same team, doing what’s best for your child. Let them see that you consider yourself on their team, and let your actions show them as well.
Every relationship worth having is worth the effort you put into it. What you build with your adoptive family will go a long way to helping your child grow up healthy, and it will help you too.