You have found the perfect family for your baby, and you know they’ll give your child everything you want for him or her. But what if that perfect family happens to live on the opposite side of the country?
If you choose to work with a national adoption agency, there’s a chance that the family you choose for your child won’t live in your immediate area. Long-distance relationships are never easy, but being far away from your child and the family with whom you want an open adoption relationship can be even harder.
Here are five guidelines for making long-distance open adoption relationships work:
- Communicate before placement.
When you create your adoption plan, you will get to determine the type of relationship you want to have with your child’s adoptive parents, regardless of where they live. As you get to know prospective adoptive parents for your baby, you’ll be able to talk with them in more detail about your hopes for an open adoption. Your adoption specialist can help mediate these conversations as you outline each party’s expectations for your future relationship. Some topics you might want to discuss include:
- How often you can expect pictures and updates
- How often you will visit each other, if you’re interested in post-adoption visits
- Phone calls, video chats, social media, and other forms of communication
- How you will address concerns and miscommunication
Remember that adoption relationships, like all relationships, change and grow over time. Try to be flexible as your relationship evolves, and always keep communication open, especially if you have concerns.
- Use social media.
Depending on the openness in your adoption and the relationship you have with your child’s parents, social media can be a great way to stay in touch, regardless of the physical distance between you. Posts from the adoptive parents can offer a quick glimpse into daily life for your child, even outside of scheduled phone calls and visits.
Talk about social media with your prospective adoptive parents ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page. Your adoption specialist can also help you work out some guidelines for what is appropriate and acceptable when talking about adoption online. Talk about how photos should be shared, what kind of privacy settings adoption-related posts should have, and more. You and the adoptive parents may even choose to set up private, adoption-specific pages just to share these updates.
If visits are an option in your relationship, make plans to visit your child or to have the adoptive family visit you. These visits will not only give you an opportunity to interact with your child, they will also give you and the adoptive family something to look forward to and talk about it as the trip approaches. Plan some of the things you want to do during your visit ahead of time so you can make the most of your time together.
- Send mail and packages.
Most adoption relationships involve the exchange of periodic pictures and letter updates. Mailing handwritten letters and small packages, especially around family members’ birthdays or holidays, can be a great way to remain present in each other’s lives, even when the miles separate you. It can be fun to send and receive “snail mail,” and handwritten notes and physical photographs can be even more meaningful than text messages and email updates.
- Look for the positive.
Distance can be challenging, but try to focus on the positive aspects of your open adoption relationship: you have the opportunity to remain an important part of your child’s life, while also having the space to adjust to life after placement, take care of yourself, and pursue your goals and passions. Your child will see that you and his or her adoptive parents are all going the extra mile to make your relationship survive the added distance — and that makes their adoption story even more special.