Initially, couples can be hesitant about ongoing contact with their child’s birth parents after the adoption. But studies show that ongoing contact through a semi-open or open adoption is a growing trend as well as beneficial for birth parents to heal and for adopted children as they grow up.
American Adoptions requires that our families be open to a semi-open adoption at minimum, and the vast majority of our adoptions are semi-open. Read further to hear from adoption veterans with tips and insight on contact with birth parents after the adoption, and check out the links below for more information about openness and contact in adoption.
“I’ll tell you, nobody will understand – who hasn’t gone through this yet – how easy it is to be in touch with these people. You think before you go into an adoption, well, I don’t think I want the birth parents in our lives… For us anyway, we found that the more open we were, the better it was. All of those fears were unfounded, completely unfounded.” – Silke
“I just feel so indebted. And I feel like I have everything, and the least I can do is give her a relationship that is as healing and hopeful and happy as possible.” – Kathryn
“They had a professional photography service that comes and does infant photography there in the hospital. We bought a package for us and let her pick out a package too. We paid for that and considered that part of the pictures agreement. The advice we would give is – whether it’s semi-open or open – to do whatever you can do (especially when it comes to pictures and communication) to reinforce that you’re actually going to follow through with that.” – Bill
“Our idea the whole time was that they’ve already made a fantastic decision that we really respect, and they can’t do anything wrong. Whether it’s deciding to be a part of this forever or not – or in and out – it didn’t matter… We feel like they’re our friends… They know that our door is always open. I think that we’ll try to see them several times throughout the year. And again, they know our feeling that there are no wrong answers. There’s no obligation to come see us every time they’re in town or vice versa. But I think that they will be a part of [our son’s life], and they want to continue to be. And I think it’s just going to be a lot of fun.” – Tony
“When you adopt, that’s part of your child, their history. I know people who had adopted and not told the child and pretended that the child is biological. I just don’t know how you can do that. I think of their birth family every day. It’s part of them, and I think it can be scary at first because it’s unknown, but it’s just such a healing and healthy thing once you’ve gone through it… It was really the start or a new type of relationship… as opposed to all ties being severed. ” – Kathryn
“I had a great experience adopting. I was able to be in the birth… And that night my son’s birth mom and I roomed together. I was able to bond with both her and the baby. We have become close friends over these past four years. She’s even on my Facebook… She sees everything about our life, and she is aware of the kind of life that our son has. I know this isn’t a typical situation, but it’s the best decision I’ve made to keep our adoption real open. My son has siblings, and maybe one day, they will have a relationship, and he won’t have to look for them. Good luck to all of you who are in the process of adoption. It changed our lives, and we are so blessed to have been given the opportunity to become parents.” – Holly
“Open adoption is healing. It’s because adoption is not just a rosy, rosy picture. I mean there’s pain involved and yes, it’s chosen because it’s a choice made out of love, and it’s the best thing for the baby. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not pain and loss. A lot of times, there’s even loss in the family adoption, whether it’s from miscarriage or infertility or disrupted adoptions, and it’s just very, very healing for the birth family. I’ve seen that. I’ve seen how helpful it is.” – Kathryn
“I mean, there’s nothing wrong with more people loving them.” – Mike
“I found that the pictures and letters come naturally. You look at this amazing, wonderful child and you want to share that. I type out their letters on the computer, and then I print a second copy for their baby book. Because I’m recording all the firsts and anecdotes, I’ll save them, and I think it’s neat for them to see that wow, we’ve kept that connection open. I feel like most of the fear comes before there’s that relationship with the baby. Because when there’s not baby, it’s like your brain has all this room, and at least for me, I obsess. And I feel like once you have that baby and you love her, you want what’s best for her. And you know that as a mom, that what’s best for her is to have these connections open. So they’re going to see that nothing was hidden, nothing was lied about, things were open and honest and shared.” – Kathryn
“Be patient, honest and just be yourself. We have adopted two children through American Adoptions [with the] same birth mother. Our son is 4, and our daughter is 20 months. No matter the emotions, the uncertainty, the ups and downs, everything is so worth it, and it will become the best decision you have ever made in your life. Thank you will never be enough for our birth mother who gave us the best gifts on the planet. We have a semi-open adoption, and it has helped everyone involved. A child cannot ever have enough love in their life, and our birth mother is a very important part of our family. Be open-minded! Be open with your children with age-appropriate conversations about their adoption. They will look to you for security, support and understanding!” – Jodi
To read more about openness and contact in adoption, visit the following links:
- What is the Difference Between Open, Closed and Semi-Open Adoptions? – Read how American Adoptions defines each type of adoption for adoptive families.
- New Report Shows Trend in Open Adoptions – Visit this blog post for info on a study from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute that discusses the trends and benefits of open adoption.
- After the Adoption: The Pictures & Letters Agreement – Learn how American Adoptions coordinates contact in semi-open adoptions after placement.
- Tips for Sending Pictures and Letters to Birth Mothers – Read tips and ideas for sending pictures and letters packages to your child’s birth parents.
- Is Contact with Your Child’s Birth Mother Changing? – Visit this Newsletter Recap for a Q&A with Adoption Specialist Laurie on how contact can change or lessen over time.
- How To Handle the Use of Social Media in Your Adoption – Get tips from Adoption Specialist Laurie on this very topic in this Newsletter Recap Q&A.
- Need Help Managing Email Contact? – Visit this Newsletter Recap Q&A for advice for handling email contact from Adoption Specialist Laurie.