Trusting the Adoptive Family in Open Adoption
Will the Adoptive Family Really Keep their Promises?
Adoption can feel like a leap of faith. When you decide to create an adoption plan, you don’t know exactly how things are going to turn out. You hope for the best — that your baby grows up in a loving family with a life full of opportunity. But there’s still an element of uncertainty, and you have to trust that things are going to work out.
Your open adoption relationship with the adoptive family can feel like a similar leap of faith. It’s common for women who choose adoption to worry about maintaining post-placement communication and building a relationship with the adoptive family.
How can you trust that the adoptive family will hold up their end of the open adoption?
If you’re asking this question, you’re not alone. And we’re here to help. There are steps you can take during your adoption process to strengthen your relationship to the adoptive parents and build trust in each other. We’ve seen many beautiful relationships come from anxious situations.
You may feel worried about maintaining contact after placement now. That’s normal. Hopefully, this guide to trusting the adoptive family in post-placement communication will ease your fears and give you practical steps to building a better relationship.
Creating a Clear Adoption Plan
If you want to trust the adoptive family, you always need to trust yourself. That starts with a clear adoption plan that you feel totally confident in. You can do this with the help of your adoption specialist.
When you first choose adoption, you’ll create a plan that involves a ton of details. One section of that plan is about adoption communication. When creating your adoption communication plan, you’ll think about questions like:
Do I want to see the adoptive family pre-placement?
Do I want in-person contact, or communication through email, text and phone calls?
How frequently do I want to communicate with the family post-placement?
The clearer your plan, the more prepared you will feel. This will give you a sense of steady assurance about your open adoption, which will help you trust the adoptive family to fulfill their role, just like you are fulfilling yours.
Maintaining Boundaries and Expectations
Boundaries and clear expectations come right on the heels of a solid adoption communication plan. These are keys to building a healthy connection, which in turn increases your confidence in the ongoing relationship.
What do we mean when we say boundaries? It goes both ways. For instance, as a birth mother, you may need space after placement to process all of the emotions you are feeling. During this time, a barrage of baby pictures might not be helpful. So, a boundary for the adoptive family could be “no pictures until the birth mother requests them.”
Expectations can involve the type of communication, the frequency of communication and more. These are best worked out, if possible, in conjunction with the adoptive family. When you each have a role in creating expectations, it increases the likelihood that everyone plays their part appropriately.
Boundaries and expectations can help you feel confident and trust the adoptive family as time goes on.
Trusting the Adoption Process
One of the best things you can do to establish trust in open adoption is working with American Adoptions. We have a well-developed screening process for adoptive families, and we require all families to be open to at least semi-open adoption.
When a family starts the adoption process with us, they fill out an Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ) in which they outline the type of adoption communication they are open to. When your adoption specialist presents you with adoptive family profiles, she will only show you families whose APQs match your adoption plan. That way, you don’t have to worry about the family having totally different expectations. You’ll be on the same page.
As a prospective birth mother, you have all of the decision-making power when it comes to picking the adoptive family. Adoptive family profiles, especially food profiles, really help you to feel a personal connection with families before choosing them. This means you can start off your relationship already knowing that you like the family. It also gives you things to talk about, since you have seen some of their life in the video profile.
Being Patient as the Relationship Grows
True connectivity between birth mothers and adoptive families takes time. Relationship can’t be forced; it has to come naturally. With this in mind, set your expectations appropriately. You may hit it off on your first phone call with the adoptive parents, but it could also take time. If things don’t seem to go smoothly right away, don’t lose hope. You can still trust in the relationship to form over time.
Keep putting in the effort and the adoptive family will, too.
You can also rely on the help of your adoption specialist when you feel your patience being tested. Your adoption specialist can reach out to the adoptive family for you if you ever feel things need to get back on track.
Believing Open Adoption is Good for Everyone
Families are taught the benefits of open adoption when hopeful parents choose adoption. Over the course of their process, they are shown time and time again how good open adoption is for a child. This means that good adoptive families are eager to participate in open adoption because they believe it is a good thing.
If you can trust the adoptive family and believe this for yourself, as well, then the communication process will feel much easier.
Taking the Leap
Ultimately, you do have to take a step of faith. No one can totally predict the future. However, as outlined here, there are ways you can prepare that will increase your confidence and trust in the adoptive family.
We’ve been serving birth mothers and adoptive families for more than 25 years, and we’ve seen many open adoption relationships turn into a lifelong blessing for everyone involved. Whether you receive photos and letters, talk over the phone or meet in-person, you can decide to trust in the adoptive family and, from that trust, build a great relationship.
To learn more about trusting adoptive parents in open adoption, you can request more free information about adoption or call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with an adoption specialist today.
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