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Navigating the relationship with your child’s birth family

All relationships change over time, and few relationships are as emotionally charged as those in an adoption. The team at ASC is here to help you handle the ever-changing relationship with your child’s first family.

The evolving definition of “open” adoption

Both you and your child’s birth mom went into the pre-placement process with hopes, promises and good intentions. But as the months and years go by, it can be hard for everyone to stick to all those lofty expectations.

You may become very close with your child’s birth mom, or there may be a bit of distance between you. You might hear from her once in a blue moon, or she might blow up your phone every day with texts. Sometimes she’ll cross a boundary with you. Other times, you will with her.

Open adoption doesn’t mean a relationship with no boundaries or respect. It’s about sticking to routines that are best for the child. Just as we helped you set the parameters for your relationship with your child’s expectant mom, we’ll continue to advise you now that she’s a birth mom. Our intention is to hold both you and her accountable for the promises and parameters that were set pre-placement.
Sharing info

Sharing updates with your child’s birth mom

Part of a healthy relationship with your child’s birth mom means sending her regular updates on your lives as an adoptive family. Before placement you agreed to a schedule of video calls, texts, emails or downloading photos over a photo share site. It’s time to hold your end of the bargain.

Sometimes, birth moms don’t answer those messages regularly or at all — that doesn’t mean you should stop sharing. You never know what’s going on in her life that’s causing her to go silent. She might not be emotionally ready to interact with the information or photos you sent over, or she might be going through a stressful time in her life. She may just not know what to say.

Whatever the reason, keep the messages coming. Your child’s birth mom will be relieved to look back on them when she’s able to — and your child will enjoy having a time capsule of your lives together. But most importantly, by sending these little love notes and pictures it shows your adoptee how much you care and respect their birth mom, no matter if she responds or not.
What about birth dad?

What if my child’s birth father comes forward?

One of the biggest worries adoptive families have is what happens if their child’s birth father comes forward. They worry that he will disrupt their life in some way, or that he’ll have bad intentions. Maybe he’s unreliable at best, and a criminal at worst.

In our years of experience, we’ve found that reality is usually better than those troubling fantasies. We’ve found birth fathers who feel like they’ve missed out on a lifetime of getting to know their child, and who are eager to share all the information they can.

Before anything else, we strongly encourage a DNA test to make absolutely sure that this man is the biological father of your child. The attorney who represented you for your adoption can help and guide you through this process.

Once paternity has been established, ASC will be there to set the stage for this new relationship. The first step is to have him schedule a support call with ASC’s post-placement team. He will get the chance to tell his story so we can learn all about him. We’ll find out his expectations for a relationship with you and your child, and what he can offer in terms of long-term involvement.

If he’s well intentioned, and is able and willing to continue to build trust, we’ll help arrange a meeting between the two of you. You’ll have an opportunity to get to know him before deciding on the next step. A relationship with your child’s birth father will inform your child’s story, and ultimately help them better understand themselves. And we’ll be on standby to help the relationship flourish.
Looking toward the future

The long-term relationship with your child’s birth family

You have a lot of special days ahead with your adopted child. Birthdays, holidays, graduations — there’s a lot to get excited about. And just as you’re excited to celebrate those milestones with your child, they might want to spend some of those days with their birth family, too.

When you agreed to contact with your child’s birth family, you agreed to be flexible, adaptable and optimistic. All of those traits will serve you well the first time your child asks to spend Mother’s Day with their birth mom, or you see an empty seat at the Thanksgiving table.

Our advice to you is to open that door. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable when they leave, but be excited for them to come back home and share their experience. The fact is that your child has two families who love and support them — and you’re both an indispensable part of their story.