Your post‐adoption relationship is an exciting new step in your relationship with your child’s birth parents. But, after signing your pictures and letters agreement, you may feel nervous about what to send. After all, your pictures and letters will have a huge impact on the birth mother and will help reassure her of her decision long after the she’s placed her baby for adoption. Below are some tips and advice for what birth mothers are really looking to see from the adoptive family in these updates.

What Birth Parents are Looking for in Your Pictures and Letters

Mailing letter with wax seal to old postbox on streetThe picture and letters that you send to your child’s birth parents will really show a lot of about your child’s personality and the kind of life they lead. You can send pictures of their important milestones, like learning to walk, riding a bicycle, and birthday parties with their friends and family. You can send pictures of family vacations, your child playing sports, or school photos. Your child’s birth mother is primarily looking for pictures that show the different ways that adoption has brought happiness into your child’s life and all of the opportunities that they’ve been given. She wants to see that her child is thriving, happy, and most of all, loved by everyone in his or her life. When it comes to sending pictures, more is always better.  From these pictures, the birth mother will be able to get a clear understanding of her child’s life and will be able to see that adoption is everything she dreamed of for her child.

It’s also important to paint a detailed picture of your child’s life in the letters that you send. You might talk about your child’s daily activities, such as sports teams they’re on or any hobbies they enjoy. Some adoptive families also choose to write notes on the back of the photos that they send, explaining what their child is doing in the picture. You can also describe any accomplishments that they’ve made in school or any other achievements. You can even talk about your child’s dreams for the future and what their career plans are. When you’re writing your letter, imagine that you’re speaking to an out‐of‐town relative. Provide clear details when it comes to describing your child’s life. You want to create a loving and warm image of your child to help reaffirm that your child is happy, loved and thriving.

Sending Pictures and Letters in a Closed Adoption

If your child’s birth mother has chosen a closed adoption, you might be wondering if and why you should continue sending pictures and letters until your child turns 18, even if she won’t read them right away. We can’t stress how important it is to keep fulfilling your post‐contact agreement with the birth parents. You can send the same information that you normally would every year, and you don’t have to change the way you talk. Even though everyone may agree to a closed adoption now, the birth mother always has the right to change her mind and open the pictures and letters that she’s been missing. Nothing would make her happier than seeing the pictures that your family has continued to send throughout the years.

Suggestions for Your Post‐Adoption Contact

While more is usually better with your pictures and letters agreement, there are some things that you should avoid when sending updates to your child’s birth parents. The first is that you should never send color copies of your photos (like pictures scanned onto standard computer paper instead of cardstock or photo paper) to the adoption agency or the birth parents; your photos will crease easier and it can ruin the picture. Secondly, there are adoptive families that are uncomfortable with sharing certain identifying information in the photos of their child. This might include double‐checking for the name of your child’s school in a certain photo. If you’re not comfortable with sharing this kind of identifying information, you can always take it out.

Most importantly, keep your promises with the birth family. Trust is the foundation of every relationship, especially one as new as this, and it’s important to keep your agreements as you begin this new journey together. Think about it this way when you imagine yourself in her shoes:  If you were placing your child for adoption, you wouldn’t want to trust a family who couldn’t meet their promises by not following through on their pictures and letters agreement. Pictures and letters (along with other forms of post-placement contact) are everything to a woman who has placed her child for adoption, and there is not a day that goes by that your child’s birth mother won’t be grieving for the kind of relationship with her child that you’ve been blessed with. You should always have a deep respect for the hard decision that your child’s mother had to make to help you build the family of your dreams. If you’re having trouble sending your pictures and letters, or if you’re late on sending them, please reach out your adoption specialist or the pictures and letters department at American Adoptions as soon as possible.

Navigating Your New Relationship

Every birth mother is different, and no two adoption relationships are the same. The types of pictures and letters that you’d like to send will be different from another adoptive family.  While your adoption specialist will always be available to give you some tips, you should always work on building a fulfilling relationship with your child’s birth mother. Often, she will have certain things that she’s hoping to see and might even ask you to include them in your next round of pictures and letters. Like every type of new relationship, it will take some time to learn about the other person. Our pictures and letters department is always available if you ever need suggestions for what to send, so don’t hesitate to reach out to Michelle, who is also a birth mother herself, if you have any more questions about what to include.