The most important thing to remember is that there is no typical open adoption relationship. You may feel a close kinship or warm friendship with each other, or an uncomfortable and even conflictual association. The actual degree of closeness is not determined by the kind of contact you have with each other, although it may be one of the influences.
You may contact each other by mail, telephone, or in person, while others relationships are conducted anonymously. There are some adoption relationships in which the birthparents and adoptive parents see each other regularly, but have not progressed beyond being polite to one another. If your relationship is not like others you have heard about, do not automatically conclude that there is something wrong. As long as everyone’s needs are met, especially the child’s, and as long as the relationship is not based on fear, distrust or anger
, your choice for an open adoption relationship may be fine just as it is. Nevertheless, if you think your relationship can be more meaningful, do not be afraid to put more energy into it.
Below are some common issues that both sides often face.
- Many open adoptions are cordial, but somewhat reserved. For most people, telephone calls have become the preferred mode of communication. Even people who telephone or visit each other sometimes feel detached.
- Sometimes feeling that they have nothing in common but the child, adoptive parents often tend to concentrate on reporting the child’s milestones to the birthparents.
- Sometimes people feel distant from each other because although they get along, one of them may not have the skills necessary to build a close relationship.
- Birthparents who have not faced their loss may find it troubling to be around the adoptive family.
- Sometimes the adoptive parents’ unresolved infertility keeps them from developing a sense of entitlement that would allow them to relax around the birthparents. Feeling threatened, they may be unusually sensitive to any signs that they are not viewed as the child’s "authentic" parents. They may look for reasons to cut off contact with the birthparents.
Many open adoption relationships have a warmth that comes from having shared a common difficulty - allowing yourself to be vulnerable to another human being, responding to that person’s vulnerability and being committed to a common goal, that of the child. The birthparents may seem like good friends of the family, gathering on holidays, or for the child’s birthday, and for other special occasions just as families would do.
Like all relationships, your open adoption will have peaks and valleys. As you overcome each hurdle, you will learn what to expect from each other and will gain confidence in your ability to make the relationship work.
Credits: Adoption Network Law Center