Five Tips for a Healthy Open Adoption

Open adoption is the norm in this country, and almost all children who are adopted as infants through domestic adoption know who their parents are. Most of them even have regular contact with their mother and perhaps father, though the level and frequency of contact varies widely from family to family. If you are a birth mother getting ready to place your child for adoption, you are probably worried about how this will work, exactly. Most birth mothers wonder how well they will get along with the adoptive parents, how they will feel when they make decisions they disagree with, and how they can be present in their child’s life without being intrusive. If this sounds like you, read on for five ways you can make sure your child’s open adoption relationship is healthy and thriving. 

1.    Do everything for the best interests of your child. Ultimately, your desires are less important than the needs and desires of your child. This goes for both the birth and adoptive parents.

2.    Create a postadoption contact agreement. This sets out exactly how much contact you will have with your child, including modes of communication and how often you will communicate. While this does place some restrictions on you, the birth mother, in terms of how often you can see your child, it also ensures that the adoptive family will uphold their end, as well, and give you the agreed upon access to your child.

3.    Understand that things may change. As your child grows up, his or her schedule – as well as your own – will evolve. Maintaining an open, honest relationship with your child and his adoptive family will make these life transitions much smoother. In addition, a willingness to be flexible and change your schedule to accommodate your child’s needs will make your relationship much stronger.

4.    Understand that you are not a “co-parent” with the adoptive parents. This may sound harsh, but it’s true. When you choose adoption for your child, you relinquish custody. While you understand this logically, it can be more difficult to accept emotionally. Choosing an adoptive family with whom you feel extremely comfortable will help you relinquish your desire to control your child’s life. In addition, before you choose a family, you can discuss serious issues with them, such as religion, education, and parenting methods. Knowing that you agree on the larger issues will help you relinquish control when it comes to the smaller ones.

5.    As Dawn Davenport of Creatingafamily.org, puts it, treat your relationship with the adoptive parents much like a “marriage, where you are both joined together by the shared love you have for your child.” Try to compromise when you can, and again, when it is in the best interests of your child.

Placing your child for adoption is certainly one of the hardest things you will ever do, but following these five tips can help you get through. In preparing for a successful open adoption and a healthy relationship with your child’s adoptive parents, you can ensure a loving, strong connection that will last for the rest of your lives.

About the Author:

Robert A. Kasky, Esq. is a Florida adoption attorney and President of One World Adoption Services, Inc., a Florida-licensed not-for-profit child placing agency. He began his legal career in 1973 as a lawyer for the SEC in Washington, D.C. Robert has handled or worked on countless thousands of adoption cases. He also co-authored the book, “99 Things You Wish You Knew Before … Choosing Adoption” with Jeffrey A. Kasky, Esq.

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