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Sharing Pictures & Letters with the Birth Mother

Little girl holding a camera up to her eye.In an open adoption, your post-adoption relationship with your child’s birth mother is an exciting, yet sometimes scary part of your new family’s journey. “Open” can mean different things when it comes to adoption, but the most common open adoption arrangement is the regular exchange of pictures and letters.

Your family may share pictures and letters with the birth mother and visa versa. Sometimes the adoption agency operates as the middleman, serving as a bridge for the two parties. Other times the birth mother and adoptive parents will arrange these communications, such as sharing pictures, themselves and determine how much involvement they want to have in each other’s lives. This is typically done early on in the adoption process. But no matter how you go about it, the regular exchange of pictures and letters can be a truly impactful experience for a birth mother.\

Why Sharing Pictures & Letters is Important

“If your birth mother wants pictures and letters, she wants them as often as possible,” says  Michelle Downard, American Adoptions Birth Mother Specialist and a birth mother herself. “The more, the merrier when it comes to pictures!”

Sharing pictures and even letters can have a huge impact on a birth mother, allowing her to feel connected to her child and constantly reassure her that she made the right decision.

“Please keep in mind the tremendous gift the biological parents have given you,” says Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C. “All they ask is for the pictures and a letter.”

  • Tell the Whole Story: Try your best to capture your child’s personality in the photos and letters you share. Sending a variety of photos can help: school portraits, photos of your child playing sports, holiday pictures, and any other activities the birth mother would enjoy seeing. 
  • Address Letters to the Birth Mother’s Name: While it might seem obvious, it is important to address letters to the birth mother by name, not just “To Birth Mother.”
  • Be Detailed: The birth mother probably wants as much detail as possible. So, be as detailed as you feel comfortable doing. Describe your child’s interests and personality traits. Talk about milestones. Share a fun story. The more the merrier!
  • Let Her Know She isn’t Forgotten: Let your child’s birth mother know that she is being talked about and that adoption is being talked about. 
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Send More: While your agreement may specify a minimum number of times you are supposed to share photos or letters, “remember it’s ok to send packages more often,” says Downard. And don’t be afraid to mix it up. “Kids’ artwork is great,” says Downard. “Help him or her sign their name themselves or color a picture. Handprint art is fun because it helps to show how your child is growing.”
  • Photos of the Birth Mother: You can also “ask your child’s birth mother to send you photos, letters or other items, if she’s comfortable doing so,” explains Downard. These can be incredibly valuable for your child as they grow and start asking more and more questions about their birth parents.


Adoption Makes Family was founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland.

If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at or use our online contact form


  1. “American Adoptions — America’s Adoption Agency.” Picture and Letter Correspondence with Birth Parents,
  2. Dischler, Patricia December. “10 Things Every Birth Mother Wants Adoptive Parents to Know.” 10 Things Every Birth Mother Wants Adoptive Parents to Know | ALP Blog | Adoption Learning Partners,
  3. “Honoring Your Child’s Birth Mother.” Lifeline Childrens Services,
  4. “OPEN ADOPTION.” Adopt Us Kids,
  5. “Tips for Sending Pictures and Letters to Birth Mothers.” American Adoptions Blog, 26 June 2017,
  6. “Tips for Sending Picture Updates to the Birth Family.” A Is 4 Adoption, 10 Feb. 2017,
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